Your pets are a part of your family and there’s no doubt you probably have many memories with them around the holidays. Whether you’re traveling with your pet or welcoming other people into your home, make sure you plan ahead to make everyone comfortable and safe.
Visiting family over the holiday season is probably an event you and your furry family members look forward to all year. When combining family, friends, and different homes however, you must be careful about your pet’s interaction with others to prevent dog bites.
Whether traveling with your own dog or visiting a house with other pets, dog bite accidents can happen all too easily. If an injury does happen, this also can create an uncomfortable situation about the legal responsibility for the accident and the resulting medical conditions. Read on to learn more about how to prevent dog bites and what to do if one happens.
Know Signs of Dog Discomfort
Dogs give a lot of visual cues about how they’re feeling, and it’s important to know these cues to be able to predict the dog’s next move. The owner plays a very important role in helping a dog adjust to new environments or new people because dogs take a lot of their cues from an owner.
Furthermore, owners know their dogs best. They can identify when the dog is acting strangely and can help keep an uncomfortable situation from escalating any more.
The first sign that a dog is uncomfortable is when they look away. Many people don’t recognize that this is an indicator of anxiety. If a person reaches out to pet your dog and the animal looks away, it’s important to flag this situation as a potential bite concern. Your dog is telling you that he or she is not feeling safe or calm in the moment.
Panting is another top sign that the dog is uncomfortable and could be elevated to other reactions. Most people assume that panting is only used for a dog to show that they are hot, but it is also a stress signal. If there’s no immediate heat source or reason for the dog to be too warm, there’s a good chance that the panting means the dog is stressed.
Beware of Interaction with Other Dogs
Sometimes it’s not the risk of other people that pose the biggest problems but instead other dogs. Dogs will revert to their biology when faced with other dogs they don’t know and this can cause an otherwise friendly and calm dog to become fearful or even defensive.
If your dog doesn’t have a good history meeting and interacting with other dogs and you know they will be entering an unfamiliar territory with an animal they might perceive as a threat, consider alternative lodging or boarding arrangements.
Educate Visitors or Hosts About Dog Bite Risk
If you’re hosting the holidays and will have new people in the house, you’ll want to prepare your dog and your visitors for best protocol. If the dog’s reaction around children is unknown or you believe that your animal has the potential to get aggressive, make sure everyone knows the rules.
Warn parents and children that when a dog is upset and the child gets upset, the child’s natural instinct is to run away. It’s important for kids and adults alike to know that this can trigger the dog to run or give chase. Children should be taught to either avoid a dog who is a serious bite risk or to assume a pack leader position.
Adults familiar with the dog can help to introduce the dog to an unfamiliar child or other person safely and slowly. Springing a child into a situation where they are likely to run up to and try to pet a dog they don’t know could be very dangerous even if the dog has not previously displayed bite behavior.
Most children get very excited when seeing a puppy or a dog, but they should be advised not to run up on strange dogs because of the dog’s possible reaction.
Make things fun for kids by downloading the Dog Decoder App, which helps humans understand man’s best friends and their visual tells. This won’t just help kids during the holidays around your dog, either, but can teach them important information about interacting with all dogs safely in the future.
If you think your dog is a serious risk, whether you’re traveling with them or hosting others in your home, considering keeping them in a secure area like a basement or utility room out of harm’s way. Another option to remove the bite risk is temporary boarding at a local facility just for the time your guests are present.
Keep the following tips in mind when educating new family members or visitors about how to meet a dog in the right way:
- Stay calm during the first interaction and avoid any sudden movements
- Never try to pet a dog’s head or approach from above the first time meeting them
- Always approach an unfamiliar dog at his eye level or from the side
- Allow the dog to sniff a hand first-if this goes well, slowly pet them on their back or their side
- If the dog stays stiff during this initial meeting, it’s best to stay clear until he’s had a better chance to get to know you
Get Medical Attention for a Dog Bite Right After It Happens
If you or someone in your family is bitten by a dog this holiday season, get the bite checked out by a doctor right away. It’s tempting to avoid leaving the home and the holiday celebrations to visit the hospital, but doing so is your best chance to avoid dangerous infections and other complications linked to dog bites.
Dog bites can cause permanent scarring, trauma and anxiety around dogs in the future, and limited mobility in the bite area. If the dog is not up to date on vaccines, too, this can pose the risk of transmission of rabies and other conditions.
The costs of treating a dog bite can be significant, especially if an infection occurs. Many dog bites are covered under a homeowner’s insurance policy.
Have you been hurt in an incident with a dog over the holidays? An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you file a legal claim to recover the compensation you need to pay your medical bills and heal from this injury. The lawyers at Dunnion Law are familiar with dog bite injury claims and can provide you with the support and help you need during this difficult time.