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What can you do to prevent dog bites?

You love dogs, and you always look forward to seeing them. When you saw a dog running toward you at a park, you assumed it would be friendly and crouched down to say hello. Unfortunately, the dog wasn't interested in niceties and bit into your arm.

The owner was nearby and was able to get the dog to release, but now you have medical concerns. You called an ambulance, went to the hospital and filed a police report.

You're not alone. There are millions of people who suffer from dog bites every year. Most people who suffer from bites are between the ages of 5 and 9. Around 20 percent of bites require medical attention, particularly when those bites are suffered by children.

How can families prevent dog bites? Here are a few helpful tips for keeping children safe.

1. If a dog approaches, beware

Not all dogs are friendly. If it's approaching you quickly, stay calm and don't make eye contact. Do not scream or run away, since this could cause the dog to chase you or bite at you.

2. Approach slowly

Children tend to suffer bites more because of a tendency to know less about approaching animals. Teach your children to approach dogs slowly and to allow the dog to approach on its own. If the dog takes the chance to sniff you and approach on its own, it's less likely to become scared or aggressive.

3. Don't leave kids alone

Never leave children alone with dogs, even if they're your pets. There are many things that could cause an animal to snap, and it's better for you to be present and able to stop an aggressive situation from occurring.

If your child is bit or you suffer a bite wound, the owner of the dog is usually liable. Your attorney can help you seek the compensation you need after an attack.

Source: WebMD, "Dog Bites," accessed May 16, 2017

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