dog terrierThe United States celebrate May 14 to 20 as their National Dog Bit Prevention Week. With millions of dogs in the country, not all of them are friendly towards humans and can also put you at risk from getting bitten. Even if you are a dog own, you will never know when your pet may bite you, whether accidental or serious. Here are what you need to know to educate yourself on dog bite prevention.

Never approach a strange dog – Just like how your parents keep on reminding you not to talk to strangers, it is also best not to approach a dog that does not recognize you especially if they are near their owner’s property. Like most animals, dogs are territorial, and they feel the need to protect their territory by intimidating intruders (that’s you). This can also happen in the friendliest of dog breeds.

Let yourself be sniffed first – Dogs identify you by your scent. If you are trying to avoid a dog, let it sniff you as you walk away. If you are approaching a dog, let it smell your odor before touching it. This is simple canine courtesy. If you are taking your dogs for a walk, let other dogs sniff your animals including the rear ends. This prevents aggression between dogs who are not familiar with each other.

Do not disturb a dog – If the dog is eating, chewing on a toy, or caring for her puppies, it is best to stay away. If you approach a dog while doing so, even if it is your pet, its first instinct is to protect itself and would bite you unprovoked.

Do not run away – If you spot a dog who seems to be raring for an attack, do not turn away and run. The dog’s natural instinct is to chase you, and that would make it worse. Instead, simply freeze, put your hands on the side, and do not look at the dog’s eyes. It will eventually lose interest, which gives you an opportunity to back off. You could also carry an umbrella with you, which you furl open and use as a shield as a barking dog approaches.

Be alert when a dog attacks – If all things have failed and a dog runs towards you, do not scream. Instead, put anything you have in the dog’s mouth like a purse, backpack, water bottle, or jacket. This would provide distraction to the animal. If you are knocked to the ground, curl up in a ball, cover your ears, and remain as silent and motionless as possible.