Being attacked by a dog can be a scary experience. If you have been through this experience then you are not alone. It’s estimated that just under one in fifty people in the UK are bitten by a dog each year. Thankfully, only about a third of dog bites require medical attention, and less than one per cent need treatment in hospital.
However, being bitten can still be a traumatic experience, whether the bite is medically serious or not. If this has happened to you, it can make it difficult to know what to do afterwards.
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Dog Bites: What To Do Straight After
If you or someone close to you has been bitten by a dog, the first thing to do is to clean the wound
- Clean the area by running it under a tap for 2-3 minutes
- Remove any foreign material such as fur or dirt from the wound
- If the wound is not already bleeding, gently squeeze it to encourage a small amount of bleeding.
- If there is significant bleeding, apply pressure to the area to prevent further blood loss
- Seek medical advice unless the wound is very minor.
For more information on treating dog bites, check out the NHS website.
You may wish to get the dog owner’s details (name, address, phone number) as well as contact information from anyone who witnessed the dog attack, in case you need it later.
It can be useful to take photographs of the wound. But do not let this delay you cleaning it and seeking medical advice. You may also find it helpful to write down a few details of your experience; as the stress of the situation can make it difficult to remember the details later.
I Was Bitten By Someone Else’s Dog
Under UK law, the owner of a dog is responsible for its actions. It is against the law for a dog to be “dangerously out of control”. This used to only apply to public spaces. But as of 2014, it now also applies to private property, including homes and gardens.
A dog who has injured someone is usually considered to have been “dangerously out of control”. However, if they were defending their owner from an intruder inside their home, then this may be treated differently.
You can report dangerous dogs to the police, or your local dog warden. What happens afterwards will depend on the circumstances under which the bite occurred, and that dog’s history. In severe cases, the dog might be removed from its owner and could be “destroyed” (the legal term for euthanasia). The owner of the dog might also be given a fine, a ban on owning dogs, or even a prison sentence.
You can also sue the dog’s owner privately for compensation if you wish. Speak to a lawyer for more details, ideally one who regularly deals with such claims.
I Was Bitten By My Own Dog
Being bitten by your own dog is a difficult experience for any dog owner. Sadly, aggressive behaviour is one of the most common reasons for young dogs to be euthanased. So if your dog starts showing changes in their behaviour then this should always be taken seriously.
Once you have had your wounds treated, you should take your dog to see your vet for a checkup. Occasionally, aggression can be a sign of pain or other illnesses, so your vet will examine them thoroughly (if possible) and may need to run some tests.
You should also speak to an expert in animal behaviour – ideally a Clinical Certified Animal Behaviourist (CCAB), someone who is registered with the Animal Behaviour and Training Council (ABTC) or a member of the Fellowship of Animal Behaviour Clinicians (FABC). They can work with you to understand why the incident happened, and how to avoid it happening again in the future.
Safety is always the most important concern with dogs that have shown the potential to be aggressive, so you should train your dog to wear a muzzle when they are around strangers or in stressful situations. Your behaviourist can talk you through how to train your dog to happily accept wearing a muzzle, but this article can help you get started.
If someone else is concerned about your dog’s behaviour, you should be aware they can report it to the police or the dog warden, even if they have not been bitten themselves.
Being bitten by a dog is a scary and painful experience for anyone. It is important to clean the wound quickly and seek medical attention, but you should also consider documenting your experience with photos or written notes in case you need it in the future. Remember to get contact information from the owner of the dog (if possible), as well as from any witnesses. Attacks should be reported to the police or the local dog warden.