Don’t Ignore a Dog’s Warning Signs: How to Prevent Dog Bites!

For close to twenty-five years, Fiumara & Milligan Law, PC has handled dozens of dog bite cases; many times they are not only tragic, but they can be avoidable.  Nobody wants to believe that their beloved little cutsie dog would harm anybody, but all dogs have the potential to bite.  Hence, raising awareness of that reality is a very important part of successful dog bite prevention.

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It is important to determine what are the most common situations in which dog bites are most likely going to occur with regard to people or other animals:

  • When dogs are off of their leash and off of their own property.
  • When their owners carelessly permit dogs on extendable long leashes to roam.
  • When children and dogs are left unsupervised by their owner.

In addition to the above, there are other common situations that invite dog bites especially when unsupervised children, are permitted to enter a yard with a dog or several dogs in that yard.  Dogs which are tethered can be another problem as well as unneutered male dogs and situations where there are multiple dogs in one place.  Dogs will act as pack animals and become increasingly aggressive with more animals of the same species located in a small space.

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Here are some of the common mistakes people who are bitten by dogs make:

1. Reaching in to break up a dog fight.

2. Getting too close to a dog’s face.

3. Letting dogs approach other dogs or people without first asking permission.

Even the sweetest little dog can bite if he/she feels threatened or is even spooked by something like lightning, thunder, a bang, fireworks, a discharged gun or even a loud passing truck or vehicle, but most bites are preventable with the following ten precautions in mind:

1. Teach your dog to wait for permission before approaching people or other animals.

2. Only use a 4-6” leash instead of those extendable, very long leashes. It is often too common to allow your dog to get out of control with those extended leashes. They can injure people and pedestrians especially in a crowded urban area.

3. Be alert to your surroundings at all times so that you know if other people or animals are approaching. That means get off your Walkman, your cellphone and pay strict attention to your pet and those of others in the vicinity.

4. You need to always be ready to either control your dog or get him/her out of harm’s way if any aggressive dog or animal approaches.

5. Teach your children to ask permission before approaching any dog, especially a dog they have never seen before.

6. If you can afford it, take your dog to puppy kindergarten followed by obedience class. Look for free classes or very low cost classes through your community center. These are opportunities to work on training and socialization of your dog.

7. It is recommended to stay out of dog parks! They can become breeding grounds for canine bad behavior but there are other experts that think that dog parks are a good way to help your dog become used to other dogs and people.

8. Pay attention to your own actions. Don’t ever put your face to a dog’s face.  That’s just asking for a bite.

9. If you need to separate fighting dogs, avoid grabbing them by their head where their teeth are located. It is recommended that each owner  grab his/her own dog’s hind legs and pull the dogs away from each other.

10. It is recommended that you don’t let go since the dogs will reengage. Although it takes a bit of stamina it will be worth not having a dog mauled that can be very costly.

11. If you or your pet are ever bitten, it is recommended that you thoroughly clean the wound and seek medical or veterinarian attention at once. Please report the bite to animal control or to any other animal humane organization/ society in your area for follow up and for reporting.

12. Do not ignore or downplay aggressive behavior exhibited by your dog or someone else’s dog. Some of the signs can be as simple as lunging, pulling on the leash or growling when the dog sees other people or animals.  Nipping is a red flag also.  It is recommended that you get help or training from a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist or veterinarian behaviorist so that your pet is less likel to bite anybody.  You don’t need your insurance rates to go sky high and worse, you don’t need to be sued or to hire an attorney like our firm.  It is best to put prevention first and you will reap tons of benefits from it in the future.

A tip from Fiumara & Milligan Law, PC.  It is not all about making money but about quality of life and keeping pets and people happy. 

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