Many instances of dog bites can be avoided by understanding that dogs have a different world view, and may thing certain activities, body language, gestures, or sounds as threatening. There is list of things to keep in mind when a dog is present in order to help reduce the chances of a dog bite. These recommendations apply to all types of dogs, including strange dogs, your own, and docile and aggressive dogs.

The most important thing to remember is that dogs don’t like having people, especially strangers in their personal space, so it is important to allow a dog to feel comfortable before moving closer to pet a dog (even if it is your own). To do this, you can extend your hand and allow the dog to smell your hand before slowly moving to pet her. Do not ever disturb a dog while she is eating, chewing on a toy, sleeping, or (especially when) caring for puppies.

It is also important to be mindful of how the dog reacts, and its body language can be a great indicator of its mood and intentions. Move away (slowly) from a dog to a safe distance if you see the dog displaying any of the following signals:

  • Tense body and tail (which is not wagging)
  • Ears that are pulled back
  • Brow that is furrowed
  • White of the eyes that are visible due to rolled eyes
  • Unbroken stare
  • Backing away and nervousness

When moving away from a dog, never run or turn your back to her; instead, back away slowly and without staring at the dog. This will trigger her natural predatory instinct which will result in chasing you.

If after all these efforts, you still feel that the dog may still attack, follow the below steps:

  • Do not make any noises indicating fear (such as screaming).
  • Do not run.
  • Stay as motionless as possible, with your arms on your sides.
  • Avoid eye contact with the dog.

By taking these steps the dog will hopefully lose interest and move on, at which point you can slowly back away until you are at a safe distance.

If, however, you find yourself being attacked by a dog, you should…

  • Put something between yourself and the dog, even if it is a handbag, and let it bite whatever the barrier is.
  • If you are knocked to the ground or fall down, curl into a ball, put your hands behind your head and cover your ears with your arms, and stay as motionless as possible. Make no noise if possible.