None of us wants to believe that our dog could bite someone, but unfortunately, dog bites do happen. According to the Insurance Information Institute, dog bites accounted for more than one third of all homeowners insurance liability claims paid out in 2012 in the United States. That’s more than 489 million dollars in claims, or an average claim amount of nearly $30,000! (http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/national/2013/05/15/291947.htm) To lower your risk, and your children’s risk, of getting bitten, keep reading.
Lower Your Risk of Getting Bitten
Never pet dogs without allowing them to smell you first.
Do not approach a dog that you do not know, or a dog that is barking, growling, or seems frightened.
Do not turn your back to a dog and start to run away if you feel threatened, because their natural instinct is to chase and catch you.
If a dog runs at you, give it your jacket, bag, or anything else that you can put between you. Avoid eye contact and try to stay as still as possible until the dog moves away.
Avoid disturbing a dog that is sleeping, eating, chewing on bone or toy, or caring for puppies, as it may bite out of fear.
Do not intentionally tease or provoke a dog. Even a dog that you know or that seems docile is likely to bite when angered or threatened.
If you see a loose dog, do not approach it. Never pet any dog, even one on a leash, without first asking the owner, or dog walker. Then, pet the dog on the shoulders or chest – never on the top of the head.
Tips for Your Own Dog
Consider waiting to own a dog until your youngest child is 10 years old.
Make sure you know the conditions in which a pet was bred and raised before purchasing it. Puppies from “puppy mills” and pet stores, or those with an unknown history, may have been mistreated and are more likely to bite.
Spay or neuter your dog to reduce its desire to roam and become aggressive with other dogs and humans.
Introduce your dog to various situations and people so that it will not be nervous in new social circumstances.
Accompany your dog to training courses to learn how to respect humans and the rules you establish in your home.
Try not to leave your dog alone with children under 10, and don’t allow children to walk your dog without an accompanying adult.
Avoid leaving your dog tied up for long periods of time. Dogs who spend most of their time alone, even in a fenced-in yard, are three times more likely to bite.
Teach your dog to act properly at all times. When the dog exhibits signs of aggression, even in a playful manner, put a stop to it. Your pet does not understand the difference between playtime and a real life attacking situation.
Provide your dog with regular veterinary care, vaccinations and licensing.
Do not bring your dog into social situations if you are unsure how it will react. This will reduce the chance that something could go wrong.