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How to prevent dogs from biting

Dog bites can be a costly liability for pet owners.

Schnauzer sitting in grass

One of the most traumatizing accidents that can happen to anyone is being bitten or injured by man's best friend. Dog-related injuries result in physical and emotional scars to the victim. For the dog, it can result in abandonment or euthanasia. While an overwhelming majority of interactions with dogs don't result in injury, most dog bites could be prevented by practicing responsible pet ownership.

Insurance is an important aspect to being a responsible dog owner. When renting a property make sure to have renters insurance because most landlords do not provide coverage should there be a dog bite incident. If you are a homeowner, talk to your insurance agent about what is covered under a standard homeowner policy related to dogs. Some insurance companies like State Farm® do not ask what breed of dog is owned when writing homeowner or renters insurance. Under the right circumstances, any dog might bite, regardless of breed.

Your dog is your responsibility. That means if it bites someone, you may incur damages. Even if you think your dog is friendly, you should understand the risks of dog bites and ways to help prevent them. 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. State Farm® paid $123 million dollars for 3,280 dog bite and injury claims in 2018.

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. Understanding your dog’s body language will let you know when they might be ready to be petted.
  • Walk your dog regularly. This will keep your pet physically and mentally healthy and provide stimulation.
  • Regular vet visits. A sick or injured dog is more likely to bite.
  • And always be alert. If someone approaches you, ask them to wait before petting the dog. This might allow your dog to get comfortable with the new person.

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.

And remember, your dog is an integral member of the family. Don’t forget to insure them like family. Learn about pet insurance to help protect your dog against the unexpected.

The information in this article was obtained from various sources not associated with State Farm® (including State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company and its subsidiaries and affiliates). While we believe it to be reliable and accurate, we do not warrant the accuracy or reliability of the information. State Farm is not responsible for, and does not endorse or approve, either implicitly or explicitly, the content of any third party sites that might be hyperlinked from this page. The information is not intended to replace manuals, instructions or information provided by a manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional, or to affect coverage under any applicable insurance policy. These suggestions are not a complete list of every loss control measure. State Farm makes no guarantees of results from use of this information.


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