Has your dog bitten you or someone else? Here’s what to do with a dog that bites, including tips for prevention and protecting yourself.
First things first, when your dog bites, regain control of your dog. That will help you prevent the situation from escalating. Make sure that everyone is ok – your dog, the victim of the bite, and anyone else involved. Be understanding, kind, and offer medical assistance. The victim will be less likely to make it a legal issue if you’ve been kind and supportive.
Then, get your ducks in a row.
1) Make sure your dog is up-to-date on his rabies vaccine and you have documentation handy.
If your dog bit another person or dog, the person/owner may want to see proof of vaccination. If your dog has not been vaccinated against rabies, the victim may need to be screened for rabies. Same for your dog. This may include your dog being quarantined to watch for signs of rabies.
2) Work with the victim.
They may take you to court, which will become a bigger problem if you’re not willing to work with the victim and court. Be honest about your dog’s behavior and what you’re willing to do – cover medical costs, follow restrictions if your dog is labeled a dangerous dog, etc. – and you and your dog are likely to come out looking better than if you’d argued and not been willing to cooperate.
3) Identify the cause for biting.
Does your dog often show aggression in a specific type of situation? Was it an isolated incident that will not be repeated? Did it stem from fear, aggression, guarding behavior, or something else? Answers to these questions will help you determine if the potential exists for another bite. You may not be able to determine this on your own. So…
4) Call a qualified dog trainer immediately
Some trainers are experts in rehabilitating aggressive dogs and will be able to help you prevent any future bites. If the victim takes you to court, it will be beneficial to show that you’re already working with a trainer to ensure it never happens again. The court is more likely to be lenient if you show you are a responsible dog owner.
Be prepared and realistic for what may come next. Your dog, if labeled dangerous, may be required to be muzzled in public. Your home insurance premiums may go up if your insurance company gets involved and deems you to be a higher risk because of your dog. Worst case scenario, your dog may be put down.
This is a situation where prevention really is the best medicine. If you want to read more about how to prevent dog bites, here are 3 posts you should read:
• 7 Kinds Of Aggressive Dog Behavior - Are you wondering if your dog exhibits aggressive behavior? This post details the 7 most common kinds of aggressive behavior. See if you recognize any of these behaviors you may not have realized were aggressive.
• Dog Body Language Decoded - You know those stories of dogs that bit “out of nowhere”? Typically, the dog showed signs of feeling threatened. It’s just that the people around the dog didn’t recognize them. Learn how to read a dog’s body language with this overview.
• How To Get A Puppy To Stop Biting - Habits form early. Here’s how to teach your puppy that biting is never acceptable.
It’s better to know how to prevent a bite than to worry about what to do with a dog that bites. If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of having a dog that’s bitten someone, follow the steps above to get the best outcome.
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Photo credit: Robert Montalvo