What should you do if your dog attacks someone? Essential Tips

What To Do At The Scene

The first thing to remember is to remain calm. It’s important that you don’t begin to argue because it may cause your dog to attack the victim again. Not only is this for the well-being of both the victim and your dog but also because the victim has to make the decision as to whether or not they will want to hire a lawyer and sue you for damages. Being polite and nice is always the route to go because the victim may decide to be nice back and not involve a lawyer.

Get the victim medical attention. Be mindful and take them to the hospital immediately. It’s important that they get the bite mark checked and tended to. If you’re going along with the polite and nice route, you should offer to pay for the victim’s medical bills. This was not their fault and remember, you do not want to involve lawyers.

Give your contact information to the victim. In some jurisdictions, this is required. So be sure to give your name, address, phone number, etc. to the victim. Going along with this, you should also get the victim’s information as well as any witnesses.

How to Stop Dog Bites

As a dog owner, you must take responsibility for training your dog and keeping them under control at all times. You are responsible for your dogs behavior and are the first line of defense in preventing dog bites. Its important to do whatever you can to keep your dog from biting, and these tips can help:

  • At the very least, put your dog through basic training. Continue a training program throughout your dogs life to reinforce the lessons youve taught them.
  • Socialize your dog from a young age as recommended by your veterinarian. Start this when they are a puppy and be consistent throughout their life! Socializing your dog includes allowing them to meet and interact with different types of people under calm and positive circumstances, including children, disabled persons, and elderly people. It also means, exposing your dog to various situations on a regular basis, such as other animals, loud noises, large machines, bicycles, and anything else that might cause fear. If your dog is not well socialized or displays any signs of fear or aggression, work with a professional trainer prior to attempting any of the above. The trainer can help lay out a plan to safely and slowly socialize your pet if possible.
  • Learn your dogs body language, as well as key signs that may lead to a bite. When youre around people, pay attention to your dog and know when aggression is building up. Stop it or remove your dog from the situation before it escalates.
  • Do not discipline your dog with physical, violent, or aggressive punishments. Opt for positive reinforcement before resorting to the use of aversives. Remember to reward your dog for good behavior.
  • Always keep your dog on a short leash or in a fenced area. Know your dog well before letting it off-leash in permitted areas. Keep your dog in your sight at all times. If you know your dog can be fearful or aggressive, do not put them in situations where they may become fearful and bite another person or pet. Instead, err on the side of caution and work with a professional trainer who can guide you.
  • If you suspect or know that your dog has fearful or aggressive tendencies, always warn others. Do not let your dog approach people and other animals unless the situation is highly controlled. Be mindful of your dogs limitations and do not place them in situations that will stress them or put them or other people at risk. Work with a trainer if you know your dog has fearful or aggressive tendencies. They can discuss the appropriate use a basket muzzle if necessary.
  • Keep your dogs vaccinations current (especially rabies) and visit your vet routinely for wellness check-ups.
  • How to Interact With Dogs

    Dogs are cute and often friendly, so its easy to get excited when you see one. However, they can quickly turn on someone they dont know. Even if you dont have a dog yourself, its important to know proper behavior for interacting with dogs and how and when to approach one.

    All children and adults should learn how to keep themselves safe around dogs. Most importantly, dog owners must be responsible for their dogs. Fortunately, responsible dog ownership and education of the public can keep everyone safe.

  • Never try to approach or touch an unfamiliar dog without first asking for the owners permission. If an owner is not present, do not go near the dog.
  • When meeting an unknown dog, allow the dog to come to you. Allow it to sniff you. Do not reach to pet it unless the owner has given permission. If the owner and dog cues are appropriate you can, crouch down or turn to the side. Always let it sniff your hand before you pet it.
  • Do not put your face close to an unknown dog; this includes “hugs and kisses.”
  • Understand dog body language. Most dogs will show specific warning signs before biting. But some may not.
  • If you are cornered by a dog, remain still and avoid eye contact. Never run or scream. When the dog stops paying attention to you, slowly back away.
  • If youre knocked over by a dog, fall to your side in a fetal position, covering your head and face. Remain very still and calm.
  • Never approach a dog that is eating, sleeping, or caring for puppies. Dogs in these situations are more likely to be protective and can become startled.
  • Never leave young children or babies alone with a dog for any reason.
  • Do not approach, touch, or attempt to move an injured dog. Instead, contact a veterinary professional or animal control for assistance.
  • How to Survive a Dog Attack

    As much as we love our pets and consider them to be members of the family, sometimes we don’t do the best job making sure to avoid putting our dogs in situations where they feel threatened or provoked. Dogs that feel threatened or provoked may bite. As we learned in a previous post, over 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs in the U.S. every year—and the vast majority of those bites happen to children and the elderly. Read more about dog bites and your rights here.

    Here are some practical tips for dog owners to protect themselves, their dogs and the members of their community:

    Beware of dog bites and protect yourself legally1. Avoid circumstances that may encourage your dog to bite.

    You know what they say: the best treatment is prevention. It’s true in this case too—avoiding situations or triggers that may instigate your dog to bite. It’s important to remember that all dogs can bite because it’s an evolved form of defensive communication. Dogs will generally be more likely to bite if they are under stress of any kind—usually as a result of emotions like pain, fear, anxiety, or arousal. Different dogs have different triggers for these emotions and different responses to them: one dog may be afraid of children, and hide behind its owner upon seeing one; another dog may be afraid of bicycles and lash out upon seeing one by biting the cyclist to defend itself out of fear.

    Know your dog’s emotional triggers, responses and warning signs so that you can have a sense of how it will behave in different situations. Growling, snarling or snapping, for instance, are ways that your dog is telling you that its nearing its bite threshold. When confronted with such a sign, find a way to put some distance between the dog and the stressor. However DON’T excessively punish the dog for behavior that isn’t biting. Growling is actually a good response for your dog to have to a stressor, because it lets you know that it’s upset. Moreover, if your dog’s angry barking causes you to become angry and threaten the dog, next time it becomes angry it will likely be even more stressed and won’t let you know—until it reaches its breaking point and crosses the line by biting someone.

    If you dog is growling, snarling or snapping, consider contacting a reputable, licensed dog trainer or behaviorist to help you work through the behaviors before they escalate.

    Though this may seem self-evident, many pet owners will react to a dog bite by becoming defensive and argumentative against the victim’s accusations, or by becoming angry and punishing the dog. Anxiety or aggression will only stress out or anger the victim even more than they were already (as well as the dog, who may then be incensed to bite again). Conversely, it you are polite and helpful, the victim may be less inclined to pursue legal action against you.

    The worst thing you can ever do after an accident like this is to avoid responsibility. Instead, make it clear that you’re a good Samaritan and help the person bitten by your dog. Not only is this ethical, but it’s also a sound legal strategy. Should the bite lead to a personal injury trial and/or insurance settlement, you will be dead in the water if the judge or jury learns that you tried to flee the scene or conceal your identity. This may lead to either you or your insurance company having to pay far more in damages.

    For these same reasons, you should obviously never lie to protect yourself or your dog in any way. That said, try to be brief in any and all discussions involving the incident to avoid incriminating yourself. You’ll obviously need to detail the incident to police, insurers, or medical care providers, but don’t blab about it to anyone else until you’ve had a chance to fully discuss the incident with your attorney.Advise that the victim receive medical care as soon as possible and assist if necessary.

    4. Advise that the victim receive medical care as soon as possible and assist if necessary.

    Your best hope is that the person your dog bit fully recovers as soon as possible, and medical attention is the best way to ensure that that happens. If the victim does not seek medical help, it could worsen over time. Should this be the case due to a lack of health insurance, hostility regarding the incident or another reason, contact your lawyer as soon as possible to discuss options. It might be in your best interest to offer to pay directly for the medical expenses of the person or pet that was bitten (You will often need to do this right away.

    Though it may seem incriminating to call the police, attaining a police report is a good way to have the incident thoroughly documented by an unbiased third party and squash any potential false claims the victim may later make in court.

    Find out as soon as possible whether dog bite claims are covered under your home or renter’s insurance policy. They typically are. You don’t necessarily have to make a claim (you may decide it’s in your best interest not to if the injuries are minor enough so that you can avoid the insurance paperwork and premium-increases) but if you don’t notify your provider in a timely enough fashion of the incident, you may be unable to make a claim or receive reimbursement at a later time. If you make a claim, you will be assigned an insurance adjuster to protect your rights. If the case is filed, you will receive an attorney to protect your rights—at your insurance company’s expense. If you do not have homeowners or rental insurance coverage that covers dog bites, get it. A rental insurance policy with $500,000 or more in liability coverage should cost you $15 or less a month.

    Most importantly, make sure to have all of the animal’s vaccination records. This will help cap your liability by ensuring that the victim doesn’t have to seek additional treatment for rabies or other canine diseases.

    In addition to medical care costs and reimbursement for lost wages, dog owners can also be held liable for noneconomic damages and such claims as: bite-related expenses for spouses, pain and suffering of pets after a dog bite, and emotional distress due to the death or injury of a pet. Make sure to ask your attorney which, if any, of these situations may apply to your case.