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Friend or foe? How to spot an aggressive dog

Outdoor recreation in Wallingford comes with its own set of hazards. For example, is the area where you are running or walking safe from criminal activity? Are the roads or paths well-maintained? Do you have to cross any major thoroughfares where there is heavy traffic?

Another, often overlooked danger, is the threat from an animal, especially a dog. In general, we tend to consider dogs fairly low on the totem pole of threats. Unfortunately, there are many instances where it turns out the Fido is not actually man's best friend, and an well-meaning person suffers a dog bite injury.

If you are engaging in outdoor activities, from simply taking a walk in the park to riding your bicycle through the neighborhood, it is important to be aware of the danger of dogs, even those that are leashed. Read below for common signs of aggressive dogs and what steps you can take to avoid a dog bite.

Warning signs

Just as with humans, a dog's body language can indicate intent. For example, if a dog is making direct eye contact with you, consider this a threat. Perked ears, a solid stance with legs wide and a puffed-out chest, as well low growling or exposed teeth are all also signs that a dog may be aggressive.

When a dog shows its front teeth, it is usually a sign that it is willing and ready to deliver a bite. In addition, do not mistake every tail wag as a sign of friendship. While a low- or medium-level, relaxed tail wag might indicate happiness to see you, a high, stiff wag is usually a sign of attention, energy and possible aggressiveness.

Moving past an aggressive dog

If you have to get close to a dog that is showing signs of aggression, there are several things you can do to defuse the situation. First, approach slowly but not in a direct manner. Keep your hands low and speak in a soft and soothing voice in order to remain nonthreatening. Do not try to tower over or intimidate the dog, as it could perceive this as a direct challenge.

If a dog attacks

If a dog makes a move to attack you, try to give it something else to bite. If you are carrying a bag, a walking stick or have some other object, be sure to put it between your body and the animal. Every time the dog opens its mouth to bite, shove the object directly into its mouth.

If a dog bites you

If you find yourself face-to-face with an aggressive pooch, the main thing to remember is to stay calm. This is especially true if the situation escalates and the dog bites you. While your first instinct might be to pull away or try to harm the dog, these are not the best steps to take. If you try to pull your arm or leg from the dog's mouth, you risk doing further damage to yourself.

On the other hand, if you try to hurt the dog to make it let go, you risk making it become even more aggressive. Gagging the dog with one of the aforementioned items can cause it to let go and give you the chance to get away.

Pet owners bear some responsibility for the actions of their pets. Therefore, if you have suffered an injury due to a dog bite, you may be able to take legal action. Your attorney will be able to help you make a claim for compensation for your medical expenses and other damages associated with the dog bite.

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