Tips to Avoid the Dangers of a Dog Bite

Would you know what to do in the event of a dog bite? According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), it’s a more common occurrence than you might think. More than 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year in the United States, and more than 800,000 receive medical attention for dog bites. Dogs have their own set of behaviors and instincts that differ from humans, and that means they can pose a serious health risk to people, especially children. 

Although each situation and dog differs, every dog is capable of biting under certain circumstances. Dogs that bite feel threatened or afraid for some reason and instinctively react by attacking. There are a few things you can do—and some things you shouldn’t do—to prevent a dog bite. Knowing ahead of time how to act and react around a dog you don’t know can help a potentially dangerous situation. Here are some tips to avoid the dangers of a dog bite.


  • Understand why dogs bite
  • Be alert, look, listen and take note of your surroundings
  • Observe a dog’s body language with a relaxed body posture
  • Learn to recognize the warning signs of aggressive behavior such as growling, snarling, baring its teeth, raising its fur and ears, staring at you intently, or charging at you 
  • Avoid dogs that are tied up or behind a fence as the dog may interpret your behavior as “invading its territory.” Other scenarios where you should avoid approaching are when a dog is sick, or injured, protecting puppies, playing with a toy, eating, barking, growling, or hiding. 
  • Remain calm if an unknown dog approaches you or you feel an attack is imminent


  • Approach a dog you aren’t familiar with unless it’s with its owner, and even then, you should first ask whether you can pet the dog because it could put you and the owner at risk. Arizona law imposes strict liability on dog owners for dog bites, meaning dog owners must pay for any damage resulting from dog bites, regardless of whether the dog owner was negligent or the dog has previously shown any propensity toward biting. It’s best to let the owner make the call on whether they want their dog to engage with strangers.  
  • Bother a dog exhibiting signs of being anxious or scared like tucking its tail, holding its head low, trembling, or avoiding eye contact.
  • Tease, startle, hug, or chase a dog. In Arizona, you could be held liable if you’re found to have intentionally provoked a dog. 
  • Violate a dog’s territory or cause it to feel cornered.
  • Touch a sleeping dog; awaken it with your voice first from a safe distance.
  • Get between a dog and its owner.
  • Try to break up a dog fight with your bare hands. Turn a hose on them, or use a broom, or another long object to try to separate them.
  • Ever leave a child unattended with any animal.

Tips to Avoid the Dangers of a Dog Bite

There are certain situations where a dog bite or attack is more prone to happen. And conversely, there are things you can do to avoid a bite in the first place. When a dog feels provoked in some way, its defensive or dominant instincts may kick in, even if it’s an otherwise friendly animal. If you find yourself in a dangerous situation, follow these tips to minimize the damage:

  1. Remain calm, stand perfectly still, avoid eye contact, and let it sniff you if it tries. In most cases, the dog will lose interest and walk away. 
  2. If the dog charges at you, “feed” it anything you have, like a jacket, bag, bicycle, or notebook—anything it can chew on instead of you. 
  3. In the event of a true bite or attack, offer your non-dominant arm, and more than ever, try to remain calm and don’t jerk your arm back. If you’re able to break free, face the dog and say in a firm voice, “No!” 
  4. When all else fails, and the dog continues to attack, drop to the ground, curl into the fetal position, and interlock your fingers behind your neck. The key is to stay still and avoid fighting back or struggling. Once the dog is at least 20 feet away from you, slowly stand up and back away carefully. 
  5. If you’ve been bitten by a dog, you should wash and rinse all bite injuries right away. If the injury is serious enough, call 911 to report the bite and seek medical attention immediately.

Contact Bache & Lynch if You’ve Been Injured from a Dog Bite

Preventing a dog bite before it happens starts with learning a dog’s behavior. If you were involved in an attack involving a dog, or wish to discuss the specifics of your case (including who may be liable in the event of an attack) in a free consultation with an experienced Tucson personal injury lawyer, please contact us today.