If you’ve ever come across an adorable dog and their owner, your initial response might have been to reach out to say hello to the dog while greeting the owner. It’s not a good idea to do that, even if the owner has given permission to approach.
Dogs who feel threatened or scared may nip at a stranger to get them to back off. If they feel you’re a threat to the owner, they may bite, too. Usually, there are warning signs, but there aren’t always.
If you are coming onto someone’s property or approaching someone with their pet, now is a good time to remember that you should ask to approach and avoid touching the dog without permission.
How can asking and getting approval help?
If a dog is not socialized well or is fearful of strangers, asking the owner if you can come onto the property or even walk by them on a sidewalk is a good idea. While you might think that the dog looks friendly or that there is no harm in petting it, not asking permission means that the owner won’t have time to warn you or to say no if they feel that you could be at risk of being bitten.
Dogs could bite because they:
- Feel threatened
- Are unwell
- Are too tired
- Are in pain
- Are protecting their owners
- Are poorly trained
- Are not properly socialized
To protect yourself, it’s better to ask if the dog is friendly from a distance. Then, allow the owner and dog to approach you, not vice versa.
What should you do if an owner and dog approach and the dog attacks unexpectedly?
Unfortunately, it’s not possible to avoid every dog bite or attack. If you’re bitten, the owner should secure the pet and stay at the scene at a safe distance. They should call 911 (or you should), to get medical attention as soon as possible for those dog bite injuries.
You should ask the owner for their information as well as for the dog’s vaccination records, if it has any. Once the emergency team and police arrive, they can take a record of the incident and get you the care you need.
After you are stable, you can reach out to ask about coverage through the dog owner’s homeowner’s insurance or other insurance policies.