Dog Bite Prevention Starts in the Home
A dog can be an absolutely delightful addition to your family. But as a dog owner, you’re responsible for making sure your dog doesn’t injure anyone or damage another person’s property. Nobody ever wants to think that their dog could bite and seriously hurt someone, but the reality is that all dogs can potentially bite.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, 4.5 million people in the United States are bitten by dogs every year and almost 1 in 5 of those people need medical attention for their injuries. Under Michigan dog bite law, dog owners are always liable if their dog bites and injures someone, even if the dog doesn’t have a history of biting. The only situations in which the owner wouldn’t be liable would be if the person bitten had provoked the dog or was trespassing on the property where the bite occurred.
With these kinds of laws on the books, it’s very important for dog owners to protect themselves, their dogs, and the people around them by taking steps to prevent dog bites in the first place. By taking steps to prevent dog bites, everybody wins.
Don’t Adopt Too Soon
If you’re looking to adopt a puppy, wait until the dog is at least 10 weeks old. We know you’re very eager to have your new canine companion at home, but puppies learn many lessons about proper behavior by spending time with their mother and the other puppies in its litter, including not to bite too hard. It’s very common for dogs to use their mouths while playing around with other dogs, but there’s a difference between normal mouthing behaviors and biting, and dogs start to learn that lesson during this time.
Socialize Your Dog
It’s perfectly normal to be afraid of unfamiliar situations. But new people and experiences can make dogs nervous and uneasy dogs are more likely to bite. This is why it’s very important that you start introducing your dog to new situations and people as soon as you can. Doing simple things like taking the dog for walks around the neighborhood or to the local dog park can go a long way in making sure your dog gets comfortable being around other people, other dogs, and in other environments aside from your home.
Stay with the dog as it meets new people and pay attention to how it reacts to different situations. Depending on how it reacts, you may need to take special steps to make it more comfortable and train it so it reacts more appropriately.
Teaching your dog to listen to basic commands like “sit,” “stay,” and “come” can go a long way in keeping your dog under control. Dog training classes are a great way for your dog to learn these sorts of commands while getting to socialize with other people and dogs at the same time. Just make sure your entire family gets involved with the training classes so that everyone is familiar with the techniques used.
Beyond training classes, make sure you discourage things like playful chasing and biting. Even if you can tell the dog is simply trying to have fun, it’s not the sort of thing you should be encouraging. Keep plenty of chew toys on hand so that your dog has something appropriate to gnaw on.
Spay or Neuter
Not only does having your dog spayed or neutered help keep the dog population under control, it can help keep your dog’s behavior under control. When dogs go into heat, they’re more likely to behave aggressively and bite.
Know When to Leave it Alone
Lastly, it’s important to understand that there are some situations when dogs simply need to be left alone. If a dog is sick, injured, taking care of puppies, or scared or in distress, even a very well-trained and friendly dog will be prone to lashing out and biting. If you either have young children or your dog spends a lot of time around kids, make sure they are never left alone with the dog if it’s in one of these situations. Get familiar with the signs that a dog is anxious so you’ll know exactly when a dog needs some space.