If you're spending Thanksgiving, Christmas or other holidays this season at relatives' or friends' houses, it's important to be careful around their dogs. Even if the pet knows you well, a large holiday gathering can cause them to behave in ways they normally wouldn't -- like biting.

If you have kids, you need to make sure they don't agitate the dog. After all, you're in their home and territory. When a lot of people they don't know are visiting and kids are running around, dogs can get frightened or overwhelmed. This can cause them to lash out.

As one attorney notes, "Dogs don't know it's Thanksgiving or Christmas. They don't know who is there -- or why. And, meanwhile, the adults are paying less attention to the kids.'' He says the number of people he sees regarding dog bite injuries "doubles or triples" between Thanksgiving and New Year's.

If an owner sees that their dog is becoming frightened, anxious or rambunctious, it's often best for everyone (including the dog) if they put them in a quiet room away from the activity with their favorite blanket and toys and some soothing holiday music. This will help them calm down and feel safe.

If your hosts don't do that, it's essential to watch for signs that a dog is frightened or upset. If a dog's ears are pinned back, their tail is tucked under their body or they start slinking or crouching, don't try to approach them. Give them plenty of space.

Don't lose sight of your children if a dog is part of the gathering. Even a friendly attempt to pet them, hug them or give them a treat can cause a frightened or overly excited dog to bite. Don't let the kids touch any of the dog's toys, bowls or other items they have claimed.

If you or your child suffers a dog bite, it's wise to have it checked out by a doctor as soon as possible even if it doesn't warrant a trip to the emergency room. Dog bites can be particularly severe for children. If extensive medical care and treatment are required, the cost can be significant. It's wise to determine how best to seek the needed compensation to cover your expenses and other damages.

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