Close to half of American households include a dog as one of their beloved family members. These furry friends bring us countless hours of joy, companionship and unconditional love. As much as you may think your dog is friendly, it’s important to know any dog can bite. In fact, most dogs bite people they know. Children are much more likely to be bitten and severely injured due to their size and not being aware of how to act around a dog. If your dog bites, you may be responsible for medical costs and damages.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, New York State had the highest average cost per dog bite claim in 2016 with a total of $58 million in claims paid. One in five dog bite victims require medical attention. If you are a pet owner, be sure to know if you are adequately insured.
Preventing Dog Bites:
While there is no full proof way to prevent your dog from biting, below are some steps you can take to reduce the risk:
Spray or neuter your dog– this can help reduce your dog’s aggressive behaviors.
Socialize your dog. It’s important for dogs to meet, greet and enjoy a variety of people, places, animals and things.
Dog training. The earlier the better- training opens a window of communication that will help you consistently and effectively teach and reward good behavior.
Always supervise children and dogs. Never leave a baby or child younger than 10 years old alone with a dog. Teach your children to treat your dog gently and with respect.
Understand your dog. Common triggers of aggression can include pain or sickness, the approach of strangers or strange dogs, the approach of people in uniforms, costumes or unusual attire (especially hats), unexpected touching, unfamiliar places, crowds, and loud noises like thunder, wind, construction, fireworks and appliances. If possible, avoid exposing your dog to these triggers. If she seems stressed or panicked in crowds, leave her at home. If she overreacts to visitors or delivery personnel, keep her in another room when they come to your house. Work with a qualified behavior and training professional to help your dog become more comfortable with these and other situations.
If your dog bites:
- Regain control your dog and separate it from the victim
- Seek medical attention for the victim if necessary
- Exchange contact information
- Contact animal control and the police
- Provide victim with proof of your dog’s rabies vaccination
- Notify your insurance company if you have coverage under your homeowners or renters insurance policy.