When Your Dog Bites

What to Do When Your Dog Bites

Schnauzer sitting in grass

Your dog is your responsibility. That means if it bites someone, you may incur damages. Even if you think your dog is friendly, understand the risks of dog bites and learn ways to help prevent dog bites.

A majority of states hold pet owners liable if a dog causes injury. For example, if your dog scratches or trips someone, you may be held responsible for any injury or property damage the dog causes. This can be costly for pet owners. The average amount paid for these claims in 2017 was $37,051 according to the Insurance Information Institute.

Preventing dog bites

Here are a few measures that can reduce the risk of a dog bite:

  • Spay or neuter. This procedure can help reduce your dog's aggressive behaviors.
  • Socialize early. Introduce your puppy to situations and people as early as possible. Early socialization makes for a more relaxed adult dog. But watch for signs of stress during socialization, as it's a leading cause of aggression.
  • Hire a professional. If your dog displays aggressive behavior, a trainer may be able to curb the problem and help the animal overcome stressors.
  • Know your dog's stressors so you can learn to avoid them. For example, if your dog growls at children, keep them and the dog separated.

Dealing with dog bites

If your dog bites someone, follow these steps:

  • Control the dog and separate it from the victim.
  • Seek medical attention for the victim if necessary.
  • Exchange contact information with the victim.
  • Decide who will contact animal control and the police.
  • Provide the victim with proof of your dog's rabies vaccination.
  • Follow all protocol stipulated in the legal process, such as quarantining your dog and seeing a dog behaviorist.


The information in this article was obtained from various sources not associated with State Farm®. While we believe it to be reliable and accurate, we do not warrant the accuracy or reliability of the information. These suggestions are not a complete list of every loss control measure. The information is not intended to replace manuals or instructions provided by the manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional. Nor is it intended to effect coverage under our policy. State Farm makes no guarantees of results from use of this information.