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Humane Society of Greater Dayton

Protect Yourself from a Dog Bite

Protecting people and pets is a top priority for the Humane Society of Greater Dayton. We don’t want to see anyone get hurt, especially when it comes to dog bites. To help lower your risk of a dog bite, you need to understand warning signs the dog may be giving you. When you first encounter a dog, whether you know it or not, you need to be polite and respect the personal space of the dog. Never rush up to an animal or startle them. Let them see you and become aware of you before you pet any animal. In addition, here are four things you need to know before interacting with any dog. 

Assess Their Body Language

If you are face to face with a dog who is illustrating to you that he may attack, the safest bet is to put as much space between you and the dog as possible. If the dog appears to have a tensed body, stiff tail, pulled back ears, flicking tongue, intense stare or is backing away then you need to be on high alert. Also, while putting the space between you and the dog, never turn your back on the animal. If they see you turn and run, their first instinct will be to chase and catch you.  

Evaluate Your Risk

If a dog is approaching you and it appears to be in attack mode there are certain things you should do to protect yourself. You must first and foremost resist the urge to run away screaming. Instead stay very still with your hands on your sides and avoid any direct eye contact with the dog. Once the dog loses interest in you, slowly begin to back away from the animal until you are completely out of his sight.

Protect Yourself if Bitten

If you have evaluated your risk and remained motionless, but the dog is still in attack mode then you want to put anything you can between you and the dog. Use things such as your purse, coat or other items in your hands and “feed” it to the dog so that it puts more distance between your body and the dog. If the dog knocks you to the ground, your safest bet is to curl into a ball with your hands over your ears and remain motionless. Although you may be scared, try not to scream or roll around because this will only keep the dog interested in you.

Taking Care of a Bite

If you are bitten by a dog try not to panic or scream. Once you are safe and the dog has moved on, immediately wash the wound thoroughly with warm water and soap. You will need to contact your doctor immediately to ensure you are safe and don’t require any additional medical attention. You should also report the dog bite to your local animal control agency. For residents in Montgomery County, this means you should contact the Animal Resource Center at (937) 898-4457.


Do you have a question for Brian? E-mail him at AskBrian@hsdayton.org. Brian Weltge is the President and CEO of the Humane Society of Greater Dayton. The Humane Society is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to building loving relationships between people and pets. Founded 113 years ago, it is the largest and most established no-kill animal welfare agency in the area. It focuses on pet adoptions, eliminating pet overpopulation, providing education and ensuring the humane treatment of animals. For more information about the Humane Society of Greater Dayton, call 937-268-PETS (7387) or visit www.hsdayton.org.