Tips to Prevent Dog Bites

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Tips to Prevent Dog Bites

Responsible pet ownership starts with education and having the right tools for success. And let’s face it - it really is a community effort! Veterinarians, animal behaviorists and trainers, emergency room doctors and pediatricians, pet industry leaders, insurance providers, and lawyers across the US are joining forces to lower these statistics and ensure safer human-canine interactions. Continue reading to learn about the steps you can take with your dog to be part of the winning team!

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Dog Bite Statistics

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), roughly 77 million dogs are living in households across the US. That’s a lot of warm noses and wagging tails to love and care for!

Unfortunately, accidents happen, and those tail wags can sometimes turn into bites. Hospital emergency rooms are treating almost 400,000 people for dog-bite related injuries per year, with over 10,000 of those victims being children. The AVMA also reports that insurers paid $700 million in claims related to dog bites.

Why do dogs bite?

  • Response to something scary or stressful - fear or unfamiliar situations or places can increase the chances of a dog biting

  • Defending itself, its territory, or its owners

  • Protecting something valuable (food, toys, puppies, bed)

  • Feeling threatened or startled

  • Sick or painful due to injury or illness

  • A special note about nipping and play biting - While these behaviors may seem innocent when the dog is excited, they can still lead to accidental injury. Discourage your dog from nipping and biting during playtime.

How to Prevent Dog Bites

  • Early socialization and training - Look for reward-based puppy and adult dog training classes

  • If your dog shows signs of fear, aggression, or guarding, seek professional help from a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (CAAB), a veterinary behaviorist (DACVB), or a qualified Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT).

  • Spay/Neuter - This is helpful to minimize roaming behaviors and hormone-associated aggression

  • If your dog is easily stressed or startles easily, learn how to recognize what may trigger these reactions. Avoid them when you can.

  • Never approach an unfamiliar dog without the owner’s permission.

  • When out with your dog, be aware when people with other dogs are approaching you. Ask them to meet your dog slowly and calmly.

  • Understand basic canine body language

Children and Dog Bites

Always closely watch children when dogs are around - even if your pup has always been gentle and calm.

Watch Jimmy the Dog videos with your child - This fun series was created by the AVMA to promote dog bite prevention.

Teach children to prevent dog bites by following these rules:

  • Never approach a dog that is eating, sleeping, or chewing on a toy or bone.

  • Leave a mama dog alone if she’s caring for or acting protective of her puppies

  • Keep away from a dog that is barking, growling, or cowering

  • Never reach over or through a fence to pet a dog

  • Always ask a grown-up for permission before approaching an unfamiliar dog

  • Never run away or scream when around a stray dog

Be a Dog Bite Prevention Champion

  • Keep your dog’s vaccines current

  • License your dog according to local laws

  • Ensure that your dog receives yearly check-ups with his vet. When a dog doesn’t feel well or is in pain, he’s more likely to bite.

  • Make sure your renter’s/homeowner’s insurance policy covers dogs. Remember, most landlords don’t provide renter’s insurance.

Quick Facts on Pet Liability Insurance

  • Your pet might not be covered if he’s an unneutered male, has a history of biting, or is trained as an attack/guard dog.

  • Some policies don’t cover (or charge extra) for certain breeds or sizes

  • Most policies cover medical expenses if your dog bites or injures a guest and damage to other people’s property caused by your pet.

  • Many policies don’t cover dog bites or injuries to yourself or damage to your personal property including furniture, carpets, or structural damage to your rental.

What To Do If Your Dog Bites

  • Gain control of your dog and remove them from the victim if it’s safe to do so.

  • Get medical attention for the victim if necessary (veterinarian or physician)

  • Exchange contact information with the victim/victim’s family

  • Contact animal control and/or police for further instructions

  • Provide proof of your dog’s rabies vaccination and license information

  • Follow local laws and guidelines for quarantine, behavioral consults, or veterinary evaluation of your dog as needed

  • Contact your homeowner’s/renter’s insurance provider.

Don’t have a policy that covers your pets? Or have questions about coverage for your pet? Visit our friends at Toggle for help!

Read more:

Puppy Socialization

Is it normal for my puppy to bite?

How to Find the Right Dog Trainer

Need to speak with a veterinarian regarding your dog bites or another condition?

Click here to schedule a video consult to speak to one of our vets. You can also download the FirstVet app from the Apple App Store and Google Play Stores.

Published: 4/9/2021
Last updated: 8/29/2021
Dr. Sheena Haney, Veterinarian

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