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Bite smarts: How to avoid being bitten by a dog

To those who own them, dogs are anything but threatening, scary or the kind of animal you go out of your way to avoid.
You love your dog, and you're always quick to defend your loyal, loveable pet when someone questions how aggressive or mean they might be.
Classic lines you'll utter when you verbally come to your dog's rescue include, "He's never bitten anyone before," or "He's always friendly."
Unfortunately, after someone is bit by that same dog, another familiar phrase comes into the equation.
"He's never done that before to anyone."

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Those seven words don't mean much after you've already been bitten, and you're trying to either receive medical attention or simply calm down after the incident had already taken place.
Dog bites, to some, might be considered the type of injury that doesn't happen all that often. But realistically, dog bites account for more than 4 million injuries per year in the United States.
But you also may be going over in your mind ways that you could have avoided being bitten, just by following a few key guidelines or picking up on subtle cues the dog might be giving you so you're better educated on dog behavior.
Anyone who works outdoors and spends time going door to door (think post office employee, UPS driver or utility worker) knows just how valuable dog behavior training is, and they're overly prepared in the event something would happen.
Not everyone is privy to that type of knowledge, so preparing yourself in lieu of taking formal classes isn't difficult. A person who runs through their neighborhood or has a dog of their own should have some inclination as to what to expect and, ultimately avoid.
Dogs will usually let you know if they're the aggressive type, mostly with body language (i.e. show their teeth, fur stands up on their back and if they position their head with their ears perked up.
Other things you note include snarling and the tail standing up and wagging slowly from side to side. You also can tell if that bark truly is worse than the bite by the sound, typically the ones that are ready to pounce have a bark that is low.
One major point that can't be overlooked is dogs often don't give off any clues if they're aggressive but still bite anyway, which is why you must approach cautiously but without giving off a feeling of fear; dogs sense that and can get just as fearful and subsequently territorial.
The goal isn't to paint a picture of "Man's Best Friend" as something terrifying or fearful but approaching dogs without at least paying attention is barking up the wrong tree.

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