Tips to Avoid a Dog Bite

Twenty Dos and Don'ts to Avoid Potentially Dangerous Dogs and Tips to Follow if an Attack Occurs

Although every situation and dog differs, there are few things you can do to prevent a dog bite. Dogs that bite feel threatened or afraid for some reason, and instinctively react by attacking. It's important for you to know how to act and react around a dog you don't know to help prevent a potentially dangerous situation.

Below are twenty dos and don'ts Houstonians should remember when in the same area as an unknown dog to help reduce the chances of a dog bite:


1. Be alert, look, listen and be aware of your surroundings.
2. Soften your eyes, open your mouth, face the dog at an angle, breathe, and relax body posture.
3. Learn to recognize the warning signs of aggressive behavior such as wrinkled muzzle, teeth showing while growling, lips/facial muscles tense, hair on back standing up, dog freezes and holds breath, hard and direct stare, tail up and held in place.
4. While standing at a front door, after knocking, take several steps back to create space between you and the door in case the resident opens the door and lets their dog out.
5. Remain calm if ever approached by unknown dog.


1. Ever leave a child unattended with any animal.
2. Run from a dog.
3. Scream or make frantic gestures.
4. Pet a strange dog or try to give it food.
5. Tease a dog.
6. Startle a dog.
7. Approach a strange dog, especially if there are puppies present.
8. Touch a sleeping dog; awaken it with your voice first from a safe distance.
9. Violate a dog’s “territory” or cause it to feel cornered.
10. Chase a dog.
11. Bother a dog when it is eating or meeting another dog.
12. Get between a dog and its owner.
13. Turn your back on a dog or allow it to get behind you.
14. Challenge a strange dog with your “body language” such as making direct eye contact, facing the dog directly, or reaching out to make contact.
15. Never try to break up a dog fight with bare hands. Turn a hose on them, or use a broom, or other long object to try to separate them.


1. Substitute something for the dog to bite down on: a stick, notebook, sleeve, anything you may have. Make sure it gets into the dogs mouth.
2. If you do not have an object, you may have to sacrifice, or “take the bite”: give it your left arm if you write with your right hand.
3. Once a dog has bitten, DO NOT pull back; the damage is already done and will not get worse by going in the direction it is pulling, and resistance can excite the dog further.
4. If you get loose, square off and face the dog in an intimidating stance and in a firm voice command, “NO”. Back off slowly while facing the dog.
5. If you have the physical strength, you may try to push it on its side and kneel on its chest, pushing out the air and making more difficult to breathe. Do not push it on its back as it may enable the dog to use its legs to push you away, or to put a paw in your eyes.
6. If all else fails, go limp, curling up into the fetal position and protecting your head and trunk with your arms and legs. Do not fight back or struggle, and do not try to get up until the dog is at least 20 feet away. Back away from the dog.
7. Immediately wash and rinse all bite injuries and seek medical attention as soon as possible.
8. Call 311 to report the bite. State law requires all bites to be reported.

All dog bites must be reported to BARC Animal Shelter and Adoptions. Call BARC at 713.229.7300 or dial 311 to report the bite. It is required by law. This is strictly for safety reasons and to protect others from a potential dog bite.

BARC Information

3200 Carr Street,
Houston, TX 77026
Call 3-1-1 for more information

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