How can you tell when a dog bite is likely?

One of the best ways to avoid a dog bite is simply to know when there is an elevated risk and seek to take yourself out of that situation. Many bites occur because people don't see the warning signs fast enough. This is why children are especially at risk, as they may think they're just petting a friendly dog when they're really agitating a nervous dog.

A few tips that can help you avoid these situations include:

-- Talking to the owner. Don't just pet a dog; ask for permission first. Many owners can tell when their dogs are acting oddly and may help you make a wise decision.

-- Be wary of how long you're around the dog. While it may put up with you at first, even if it doesn't want you to interact with it or pet it, the odds of a bite could go up the longer it goes on.

-- Limit sudden movements. Dogs are threatened by them and act instinctively. For example, instead of running up and reaching out to pet the dog, walk up slowly, with you hand extended and your fingers balled into a fist, and let the dog sniff your hand first.

-- Stay calm if the dog seems angry or aggressive. Yelling, running or trying to act aggressively toward the dog -- especially one that isn't on a leash -- can escalate the situation.

Unfortunately, even using these tips won't help you avoid all dog bites. If you are injured in an animal attack, you could need extensive medical care, and it's important to know if you can seek compensation from the dog's owner.

Source: American Veterinary Medical Association, "Recognizing Risky Situations Helps Prevent Dog Bites," accessed Feb. 24, 2017

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