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Protect yourself against dogs
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Few people give thought as to how to deal with a dog attack situation until it actually happens to them. Each year, more than 4.5 million people suffer dog bites; of those, 60 percent are children, according to the Center for Disease Control.

Ask anyone who jogs, rides a bicycle, takes walks, mail carriers and delivery people, they will all tell you that the prospect of being attacked by a dog is one of their greatest concerns. And to some extent, there is no fully reliable method to avoid these attacks. To make matters worse, dog attacks are even more likely if a person is walking a dog and an unleashed animal takes a charge at the pet.

To avoid any misunderstanding, it should be made clear that dog owners who allow their dogs to stray or instigate unwarranted attacks are fully responsible for civil damages, and in some instances, may be charged with criminal violations. Dogs used for attacks and trained as such may be considered deadly weapons.

Nevertheless, the instances of stray, vicious dogs are frequent and it is important to know how to protect yourself and your family from these animals. No one way to avoid or fend off attacks is a perfect solution. Dogs have basic tendencies, but there are as many different dog behaviours as there are dogs.

It has been found that direct eye contact with a vicious dog will tend to intensify any desire the dog may have to attack. Running also may cause the attacking dog to be more vicious and determined to bring you down. Running from a vicious dog will probably confirm its need to attack you and the overall situation will become much more dangerous. Try to remain as calm as possible, stand upright and be sure to protect your face. Eye contact is a form of aggression in the dog world, so avoid it.

If a child is nearby, hold the child above the attacking dog as much as possible. Always keep in mind that you have the right to protect yourself, and if your defensive efforts do not succeed at first, you must use whatever force or means available to ward off the attack. Some dogs will not stop the attack until they believe the victim is dead.

In instances when a vicious dog appears to be in attack mode, try to keep something between you and it, like a coat or any other object that might be available to you and slowly back away. If the dog starts to circle you, turn with it rather than letting it get behind you.

One of the most important things that you should always keep in mind is that you should do anything possible to avoid being bitten in the face. Some of the worst injuries from dog bites have resulted from humans being bitten in the face. It is especially important to keep a dog away from your mouth and eyes. Stand up tall, pull your shirt up over your head or put your hands on your face to protect it from being bitten.

If your dog is attacked by a loose dog, do not place your hand or other body parts into the fight, as it is likely that you will suffer severe injuries. I was at a beach last spring when an unleashed dog attacked a dog that was on a leash. The leashed dog's owner tried to separate the two fighting dogs and in so doing, she lost her finger - which could not be reattached.

Where pepper gel or other pepper-based sprays and stun guns are legal and available, these devices are quite effective. Check local laws before acquiring these devices and make sure you have adequate familiarity with the sprays and stun guns. Lack of familiarity or misuse can be as problematic as it can be helpful.

If you are bitten by a dog, seek medical treatment immediately. Try to determine who owns the dog and obtain vaccination information. Bites should be reported to the local animal control service.