It’s common to see people with canine companions all over Texas. People bring their dogs with them to the park and the beach. Other individuals may have emotional support or assistance animals that go into public businesses with them. It’s also likely that you have friends or family members who have dogs living in their homes.

You probably rarely stop to think about how dangerous dogs can actually be. If you are fortunate enough to have only had positive experiences with dogs, you might not worry about the potential for a dog bite. However, dog bite attacks are relatively common. Their consequences can be severe, especially if a dog bites vulnerable areas like the neck, hands or face.

A dog can also severely injure or traumatize your child, which is something every parent wants to avoid. Learning how to avoid dog bites is a great way to keep yourself and the people you love safe.

Treat every dog you don’t know like a dangerous dog

Looks can be deceiving, even when it comes to dogs. An animal that has perky ears and a wagging tail one second could be snarling and lunging at you the next. Also, certain characteristics like color or fur density may make people consider a dog to be cute or harmless when it actually has aggressive tendencies.

In order to reduce the risk to your face, you should always act as though any dog will want to bite you. Ask before interacting with or attempting to touch a dog. Always approach a dog in a cautious and safe manner. Teach your children to do the same.

Watch for signs of anger or fear

Because they can’t speak, dogs can’t communicate that clearly about their emotional needs with humans. However, carefully watching a dog can help you determine what it’s thinking or feeling.

Certain kinds of body language, such as laying back its ears, pulling back its gums, exposing its teeth and snarling, or crouching down could all be signs of impending aggression. Both you and your children should understand what to look for in a dog nearby.

If you sense potential aggression, move slowly and calmly but directly away from the animal. If the animal is not restrained, alert its owner if possible. Seek shelter in a building or vehicle until the dog has been removed from the space.

Sometimes, no matter how careful you are, a dog does manage to hurt you or someone you love. If that happens to you, it’s important to understand that you do have rights. Laws about dog bites can be complex. Your first step should be to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney who can advise you of what rights and options you have under Texas laws.