6 Important Things Dog Owners Can Do to Prevent Dog Bites
Many dog owners consider their dogs to be part of the family, but it’s very important to remember that dogs are still animals and as such, they might not always behave the way you want them to. No dog owner ever wants to think that their beloved pet would ever hurt someone, but the simple fact of the matter is that every year, over four million people are bitten by dogs and about 800,000 people require medical treatment as a result of them.
As a dog owner, you have a responsibility to keep your dog under control so that it doesn’t hurt anyone or damage another person’s property. While a lot of people tend to think that dog bites involve random dogs, it’s actually just the opposite — most dog bite victims are actually bitten by dogs they know. Here are a few things you can do to protect your friends and family, and hopefully avoid being involved in a dog bite lawsuit.
Contain Your Dog
Whether it’s in your yard or in your home, keeping your dog properly contained is a very effective way to prevent dog bites.
Dogs need to spend lots of time outside, so it’s important to make sure your yard is securely fenced in and that your dog won’t be able to escape by jumping the fence, by digging underneath, or by climbing through a gap in the fence. If you have gates, get in the habit of keeping them closed as much as possible. Of course, you’ll also need to keep your dog on a leash when taking it out for a walk or if you’re spending time with it in a yard that’s not fenced in.
When your dog is in the house, it might be very excited to meet visitors at the door. However, if your dog tends to get a little too enthusiastic about greeting people, it’s best to keep it in another room until it settles down or your visitor leaves.
Spay or Neuter Your Dog
Not only does spaying or neutering your pet help keep the dog population under control, it also helps curb aggressive behavior. According to The Humane Society of the United States, spayed or neutered dogs are less likely to bite and have a lessened desire to roam and fight with other dogs.
In many cases, dogs bite because they’re scared or uncertain about a situation, so it’s good to give your dog lots of opportunities to socialize. Allow them to interact other dogs, visit new places, and meet new people. This way, your dog is able to get more comfortable in different situations and learn to handle meeting new animals and people. However, it’s very important that dogs be allowed to socialize at their own pace and that they not be forced into situations that make them uncomfortable.
Get Lots of Exercise
Dogs love to run around and play. Not only is this fun, it helps them stay healthy and gives them a chance to burn off some of their excess energy. When your dog doesn’t have a lot of pent-up energy to deal with, it’s less likely they’ll direct it into biting someone. Taking your dog for walks or bringing them to play at a dog park also help to socialize your dog.
Sign Up for Obedience Training
The earlier you’re able to start teaching your dog basic commands like “sit” and “stay,” the better. The ASPCA recommends taking your dog to reward-based training classes when the dog is as young as eight weeks old. Best of all, dog training classes are another excellent way to socialize your dog.
Understand Your Dog’s Needs
Last, but certainly not least, it’s important to understand what your dog needs. Even if your dog is normally very well behaved and you’ve made every effort to socialize them, there are certain times when your dog might be afraid or need to be left alone. If a situation is making a dog visibly uncomfortable or you have a visitor who won’t stop doing something that you know annoys your dog, remove the dog from the situation right away. If a dog is sick or taking care of newborn puppies, make sure it’s being given plenty of space and be particularly mindful about keeping children away from the dog during that time.