Dog attacks can result in serious injury. Understanding why dogs bite can help you avoid aggression when interacting with an animal.
Review the common reasons a dog bite may occur, even when a dog has never attacked before.
Fear or perceived threat
A dog will bite when it feels threatened by a person or animal. When approaching a dog, make sure the animal sees you coming. Avoid accidentally frightening or startling a dog. Do not disrupt a dog that is eating or try to take a beloved object such as a toy. Dogs will also bite if they are protecting their territory, belongings or puppies.
If a dog is sick or injured, it may display aggression when approached. When a dog is not eating and seems ill, talk to the vet right away. If an animal isolates itself, leave it alone.
Sometimes dogs bite in the course of play. Do not engage in rough games such as wrestling or tug-of-war with a dog. Even if the animal bites out of excitement rather than aggression, serious injury can still occur.
If you or a family member suffers a dog bite, seek medical care right away. Even if the bite does not seem serious, it can become infected.
Pennsylvania has a one-bite law when it comes to dog bite liability. Under this statute, a person bitten by a dog can seek legal compensation for medical expenses only. The owner only becomes responsible for other costs, such as lost wages and pain and suffering, if he or she knew the dog already attacked someone in the past.