It’s one of the most heart-dropping moments a dog owner can experience: Your dog, for one reason or another, bit someone else. Dealing with these kinds of incidents is no walk in the park, so it’s important to be well-prepared. Furthermore, whether your dog is dealing with aggression, fear, or anxiety, avoiding future dog bites is possible with the right training and discipline.
With that being said, here are some useful tips on handling dog bites:
Dog bites in America
It might come as a surprise that millions (yes, millions) of people are bitten by dogs every single year. It’s not an uncommon occurrence, and many victims can seek legal actions for their injuries. This can be one of the scariest moments for owners after your dog bites someone.
As Dave Abels, a personal injury expert, explains, “While nothing can [undo] the harm caused by these [dog bite incidents], those who are injured do have rights under state and local laws so that they can ensure they are protected. Many victims can bring a personal injury claim in or out of a court of law to provide them with payment for their injuries, whatever they may be.” With that in mind, it’s important to handle any accidents with your beloved dog seriously and quickly. It’s important to cooperate with both the laws and the victim. It’s also crucial to begin taking the right steps to avoid future bite incidents — to keep you, your pup, and others safe.
Always be prepared
No matter how sweet, calm, and friendly your dog may be, they can bite others at any moment if they feel in danger, stressed, or even caught off guard, so it’s important to always keep in mind what to do if your dog does bite someone. Taking the right steps can help minimize the pain and stress of everyone involved. If your dog bites someone, it’s imperative that you:
- Remain calm.
- Remove your dog (if possible) from the situation by crating them or moving them to another room.
- Help the victim by thoroughly cleaning the bite with warm, soapy water.
- Call an ambulance for severe bites.
- Don’t admit fault (what you say can be held against you if legal actions are taken) but be sympathetic and civil with the bite victim.
- Take all bites, no matter how minor, seriously and seek professional medical help ASAP.
- Offer to contact the bite victim’s spouse, family member, or friend.
- Exchange insurance and your contact information with the victim.
- Ask any witnesses for their contact information — even if the bite victim says they won’t take any legal actions.
- Contact your vet and ask for a copy of your dog’s medical records.
- Contact local authorities and provide as many details about the situation as possible.
Of course, that’s a lot of information to remember in the heat of the moment, but it’s important to know and take the correct steps for both the victim and your dog.
Why dogs bite
As mentioned earlier, no matter how friendly your dog is, big or small, there are a lot of situations that can put them under stress and cause them to lash out. For example, undergoing a big move can cause dogs to become aggressive and unlike themselves due to the changing environment.
Particularly, as stressful as moving houses is for you, the same can be said for your dog and other pets. Moreover, one sure way to get off on the wrong foot with your new neighbors is with a nasty dog bite. In situations like these, putting your dog at the top of your priorities can help keep them calm, safe, and prevent those dreaded biting incidents.
Safety should always be a number one priority during a move, but it’s also important to ensure you have enough food and water among all the moving boxes. Furthermore, during the actual day of the move, consider keeping your dogs away from the situation as much possible.
As Direct Energy advises, “On the day of the move … ask a friend to watch your pets or place them in a kennel until all your belongings are packed away. Keeping them in the quietest area possible will help reduce stress on the animal. Make sure you check on them regularly, and try to feed or walk them at the time you usually would; having some sense of a routine during all the changes will help a lot.” Keeping your dog from all the action can make the transition easier and prevent them from slipping out the front door and biting an unsuspecting victim.
This is also a generally good rule of thumb to have for a lot of other situations. If you’re hosting a big party, ask a family member to watch your dog for the night if crowds (especially if alcohol is involved) seem to stress them out. You also might consider keeping them crated if children are visiting and you’re not sure how your dog will react. Remember, kids have little to no boundaries when it comes to animals, and all that pulling and tugging can turn a sweet dog into a defensive one.
Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, your dog just needs professional help. Whether you adopt a dog with aggressive tendencies or your puppy has a rather painful way of saying hello to new friends, it’s worth enrolling in professional training. You can always ask your vet for a recommendation if you’re unsure of where to start looking.
Not only can training help reduce your chances of your dog biting someone, but you can feel more confident and comfortable as an owner. Trainers can also equip you with the right kind of knowledge and techniques to diffuse tense situations should they arise. You’re not a failure by any means if your dog needs professional training. In fact, enrolling in training means you take your responsibilities as a dog owner seriously and you want what’s best for Fido. Good luck!
Devin Morrissey prides himself on being a jack of all trades; his career trajectory is more a zigzag than an obvious trend, just the way he likes it. He pops up across the Pacific Northwest, dragging his dog around whenever possible. You can follow him more reliably on Twitter.