Animal Resource Library » Dog Articles » Dog Bite Prevention

Dog Bite Prevention

A bit of prevention will help reduce the risk of injury, expense, and heartache due to dog bites.

How should I meet an owned dog?

  • Practice your ABSCs
    • Ask the owner if you can pet the dog.
    • Bend down so you dont’ tower over the dog.
    • Let the dog sniff your closed fist.
    • Pet the dog under the chin or on the chest.
  • Approach slowly and quietly.
  • Do not pet the dog if his owner has to physically restrain him, or if the dog does not approach you (even if the owner says it’s okay).
  • Do not hug the dog, or put your face in the dog’s face.

What clues will a dog give me about whether or not I can pet him?

    • Ears are pricked, but relaxed
    • Body and tail are relaxed
    • Mouth is relaxed into a smile
    • Body is in “play bow” position
    • Tail and eyes are relaxed (or tail is possibly wiggly)
    • Back is hunched, he’s cowering, or he is close to the ground
    • Ears are pricked and forward
    • Body is tense and forward
    • Eyes are glared
    • Teeth are bared
    • Expression is worried
    • Or, if he’s sleeping or eating, playing with a toy or chew, or caring for her puppies.

What should I do if I see a stray dog?

  • DO NOT RUN. The dog may chase you.
  • DO NOT PET. Some dogs may be dangerous, infected by parasites, or carry disease.
  • Become a “tree.” Stand very still and put your fists under your chin.
  • Keep the dog in sight, but do not look him in the eye. The dog may view direct eye contact as a challenge.
  • Back into a wall or fence. When dogs stalk, they circle their prey. Walk slowly with your back against the wall or fence in order to get to safety.
  • Call Animal Care Services. If the pet is lost, this his best chance to be reunited with his family.

What if a dog jumps on me and knocks me to the ground?


  • Curl up on the ground to protect your stomach and face (knees down on the ground).
  • Stay very still.
  • Put your fists over the back of your neck to protect your throat and neck.

What should I do if a dog bites?

  • Wash the wound carefully and immediately see a doctor
  • Report the bite to your local animal control agency and the health department