How To Protect Yourself From A Dog Bite

You may not be able to prevent all dog bites, but you can certainly protect yourself from a dog bite by practicing preventative measures. No one wants to believe that their loving family pet can “snap” and bite a friend, family member or stranger, but it does happen.

In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that close to five million people in the United States get bitten by dogs annually. Many of these bites can be prevented and many of these same bites come from family pets or pets of people we know.

How To Protect Yourself From A Dog Bite

If you read the news on any given week you will have seen stories of people getting mauled, bitten and even killed by dogs. Statistics show that Rottweilers and Pitbulls are the breeds most often responsible for the dog bites, any breed of any size is capable of aggressive behavior and can be prone to biting.

Chances are you have told family members, “please stay out of the dog’s face” or “don’t reach into the dog’s food bowl” or phrases of that sort as a way to protect them from getting bitten. While we don’t want to think about it, any dog can turn aggressive if provoked and can bite.

If you watch your dog’s body language you may see signals that he is getting uncomfortable, anxious or stressed and those feelings could lead to him lashing out and biting — even when he is the most mild-mannered dog.

Here are some (rather) startling statistics on dog bites: 

  1. Dog bite deaths caused by an off-leash dog account for 24% of deaths by dog bite
  2. Close to 60% of deaths were caused by unrestrained dogs on their owner’s property
  3. Close to 20% of dog bite deaths occurred by restrained dogs on their own property
  4. The family dog makes up to 70% of fatal dog bite attacks
  5. Close to 75% of all dog attacks happened on the owner’s property

What is a dog owner to do?

You need to take as much responsibility for your dog’s behavior as possible and this involves taking preventative measures that include:

  1. Training your dog
  2. Socializing him with other dogs and people
  3. Getting her trained
  4. Keeping her restrained when on a walk
  5. Spaying or neutering can dampen aggressive behaviors

While rescuing a dog is something that we are proponents of, it does make it difficult to know his or her history. If the dog you’re adopting comes from an aggressive line, you won’t know until he or she bites. Then again, there are dogs born of aggressive parents who are docile as lambs. If you don’t know the history of a rescue dog, it is best to not bring him into a home with young children. The CDC estimates that more than 70% of all dog attacks happen to children; neer leave a young child or baby alone with a dog — even the friendliest, most laid-back dog.

If you adopt a puppy, don’t promote aggressive games like tug of war or biting games. Teach him to play gently and to drop toys when told. If your puppy growls or bites when playing, use positive reinforcement to redirect his aggression and encourage gentle play.

Socialization to unique situations, people and places will help your dog react calmly to new surroundings or people and may help prevent him biting out of fear.

Work with a positive reinforcement dog trainer who can show you how to train your dog to be the best, most gentle family member she can be.

Other preventative measures

  1. If your dog suddenly starts acting aggressively, seek advice from your veterinarian
  2. Don’t leave a dog alone with children
  3. Don’t leave your dog unsupervised or off leash when you’re off your property
  4. Don’t keep your dog tethered outside at home — he needs interaction with humans
  5. Pay attention to your dog’s body language and remove him from situations that are making him uncomfortable or anxious.

About FIDO

There are many reasons a dog may bite, and it’s not always 100% preventable. In addition to financially protecting dog owners from dog bite claims, our Canine Liability Policy also covers other injuries to people, including scratches and fall injuries caused by dogs and injuries to other animals. Please contact us today for more information at (407) 865-7477, ext. 101.

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