dog bite

Did you know that May 18th – 24th is National Dog Bite Prevention Week?  Did you also know that according to the Insurance Information Institute, dog bites accounted for more than one-third of all homeowners insurance liability claim dollars paid out in 2013?  The average cost paid out for these claims in 2013 was $27,862.  No one wants to deal with a disaster such as this, not only is it traumatic for the victim, it can also be traumatic for yourself and your family.  In order to avoid these situations, we’ve come up with some tips to prevent you from being bitten, and to prevent your dog from biting.

  • Make sure your dog is properly socialized at a young age.  It’s important that they interact with other dogs as well as people so they learn how to properly act.  Under socialized dogs may bite out of fear when approached.
  • Be cautious when exposing your dog to new situations where you are unsure of how they will react.
  • If you own a dog that can be defensive, make sure there are signs posted in your yard warning visitors to “Beware of dog”.
  • Avoid aggressive games such a tug-of-war, it can encourage inappropriate behavior, fetch is a much better option.
  • Make sure your dog is always leashed when walking them outside.  If you allow your dog to run outside, make sure it is inside a fenced enclosure.  Putting them on a runner or behind an electric fence will keep them in your yard, but won’t prevent humans or other animals from approaching your dog.
  • Never leave young children alone with a dog unsupervised.
  • Teach children to always ask for permission before approaching an unfamiliar dog.
  • Never approach a dog you don’t know without asking it’s owner for permission.  Some dogs may react differently than others and may even feel threatened, especially if you’re on their property.
  • Do not disturb a dog if it is sleeping, eating, playing with a toy, or caring for puppies.  They may interpret you as a threat and react on instinct to defend their territory.
  • Pay attention to body language, if you come across a dog with a tense body, raised hair, a stiff tail, bared teeth, and especially if they growl at you, avoid eye contact and slowly back away to put some space between you and the dog.  Whatever you do, do not turn your back and run, as their instinct will be to chase you.
  • If a dog that appears tense does approach you, stand very still and avoid eye contact, try to toss an object away from you so that the dog will go investigate.  That should give you enough time to slowly walk away without provoking the animal.
  • If your dog does being to display aggressive behavior, consult your veterinarian or a behavioral specialist immediately.

We all hope to never encounter a situation where our dog bites someone or we are bitten, but sometimes it happens.  These tips are a good way to avoid such situations, and to keep your family and your dog as safe as possible.

Photo By: John M. P. Knox