The winter holidays are when a lot of people make their annual rounds among their relatives – and that can also mean a lot of encounters with relative’s dogs.
It’s an unfortunate reality that 77% of dog bites happen to family members and friends of the dog’s owner. That makes it important to remember a few basic rules when you’re visiting a house with a dog.
Respect the dog’s boundaries when you visit
Dogs are as individual as people when it comes to their personalities. Some are never stressed by attention, while others are very shy or get easily stressed. It’s important to respect a dog’s boundaries – and to teach your children to do the same. That means not staring the dog down or putting your face close to theirs, never touching the dog while they are sleeping or clearly afraid and not touching their toys, bones or food. It’s wise to remember that dogs tend to be aggressive when they feel threatened – and you’re in their space.
It’s okay to ask if the owner will put the dog away
Responsible owners realize that their dogs, no matter how sweet, can respond to anxiety by biting – so many will put their dogs in a different room when they have guests. If you’re visiting someone who hasn’t taken that step and you start to notice that the dog is showing signs of stress, gently point out your concerns to their owner.
If you’re bitten by a family member’s dog, it may feel awkward to ask them to pick up your medical bills, lost wages and other expenses – but most will have insurance that may indemnify them and cover your losses. Obtaining fair compensation for a dog bite can be significantly easier if you seek legal guidance as proactively as possible.