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Follow these rules when visiting relatives with pets

Are you looking forward to visiting some of your favorite people this holiday season? Millions of Americans take time during the holidays to make the rounds with family members and friends they don't often see. That also means, however, you may be seeing a lot of strange dogs.

There are approximately 43,346,000 American households with dogs -- which probably includes at least of few of the places you'll be visiting this year. Whether you love dogs or hate them, the reality is that your friends' and relatives' dogs don't know you that well. That means you need to take some precautions in order to avoid problems with the canines you encounter.

Some basic rules to remember as you visit include:

1. You're in the dog's territory.

Above all else, this is important to remember. Dogs are protective of their homes and their families, so keep that in mind before you decide to dart up the steps to the bathroom or roughhouse with the kids. The dog could misinterpret the action and bite you in a misguided attempt to protect his people and home.

2. If you have small children, ask the dog's owner to put the dog in another room.

Yes, this might make you uncomfortable, but small children get incredibly wound up during holiday celebrations. They make a lot of noise. They can suddenly start running around. This can make a dog frantic. Even a small dog can do some serious damage to a toddler, so don't risk it.

3. Listen to your friend or relative if they say the dog isn't friendly.

You may absolutely love dogs, but that doesn't mean a particular dog will love you. Even if you've never met a dog you can't charm, remember that you don't know a particular dog's history or condition. A dog with arthritis, for example, might bite you because you don't know not to touch her sore hip. A dog who was abused may attack you because your beard reminds him of the person that abused him. Unless the owner says it's okay, don't try to pet or play with the dog.

No matter what precautions you take, accidents happen. If you're injured by a dog bite this holiday season, you may have significant medical bills and lost wages. Our office may be able to help you understand your options and how to obtain compensation for your losses.

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DelVecchio & Miller, LLC

DelVecchio & Miller, LLC
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