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Your Best Friend Bites

Each year, nearly 4.7 million Americans are bitten by dogs. As many as 800,000 people, require medical attention for dog bites annually, and about a dozen people die each year from dog bite injuries. The good news is that most bites can be prevented. All dogs should be treated with the utmost caution; every dog will bite given the right circumstances.

Each dog has its own distinct social and personal distance that a stranger is permitted to enter. This is why dogs that are tied may bite or snap when approached; they are unable to escape when there is a sudden invasion of their personal space. Always pay attention to signals given off by all dogs. Never assume that because a dog's tail is wagging that he will not bite. It can mean indecision on the dog's part. If a dog is chasing you, never run unless you can beat the dog to a safe haven.

Running is a sure way to aggravate an attack, so if you see a dog wandering loose without an owner and it approaches you, do not run away, yell or make loud noises. Stand very still like a tree and cross your arms over your chest, as if you are giving yourself a great, big hug. (This shape forms the trunk of your tree.

) Look away from the dog, because dogs sometimes think direct eye contact is a challenge for power and control. Your intention is not to challenge the dog. Instead you just want the dog to go away. Toss an object away from you and away from the dog. This should attract its attention toward the object and away from you. The dog should move toward the thrown object to sniff and investigate it, which will give you a chance to slowly, turn and walk away.

All stray dog encounters does not have to end in a bite. If you believe that a dog is going to attack you, offer it whatever you have with you, whether it is a clipboard, briefcase, or purse. If the dog is truly aggressive he will grab the object and hold on. As the dog holds on do not let go of the object, if you do he will soon realize that it is not you and will more than likely attack again. Normally, once the dog realizes that he is having little or no effect, he will stop the attack, or at the very least, give you time to plan your next move. You should only strike the dog as a last resort.

Inflicting pain on the dog can only make him more aggressive, as he will identify you as the source of his pain. If you happen to be knocked to the ground, remain motionless in the fetal position, and protect your face by crossing your arms above your head. It is also important to remember that turning and running are signals for a dog to chase and attack. Most people are bitten moving away from a dog when they turn to run. Dogs are usually less aggressive on neutral ground, so it is important to gradually increase the distance from where the dog lives, if that is where the encounter occurred.

Sometimes all efforts to resolve a stand off with dog fail and the unfortunate happens. If a dog that may attack you approaches, first follow some simple steps to avoid being bitten. If you are bitten or attacked by a dog, try not to panic.

Immediately wash the wound thoroughly with soap and warm water. Contact your physician for additional care and advice. Report the bite to your local animal care and control agency. Tell the animal control official everything you know about the dog, including his owner's name and the address where he lives. If the dog is a stray, tell the animal control official what the dog looks like, where you saw him, whether you've seen him before, and in which direction he went.

Johnny A. Jenkins, Distribution Director of Repeller Technology, provides self-defense and safety products, tips and advice to fit most situations. Make your surroundings safer for you and loved ones today at: Repeller Technology.

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