Did you know that dog bites cause over 800,000 injuries requiring immediate medical care in the United States each year? This statistic is based on a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If your dog bites someone, you can be held legally liable. (Fortunately, this loss is normally covered by your homeowners policy.) However, there are steps you can take to reduce or prevent dog bites, including the following.
1. Carefully consider dog breeds prior to selecting a pet. Some breeds have worse reputations than others, and a veterinarian can help you decide which breeds might best fit your lifestyle. Note that some insurers will not insure you for homeowners insurance if you have a breed that is viewed as more dangerous than others, such as a Pit Bull.
2. Spay or neuter the animal as this often decreases the aggressive tendencies of dogs.
3. Seek a veterinarian’s advice quickly if your dog becomes aggressive.
4. Socialize your dog from an early age to encourage appropriate behavior.
5. Never leave dogs alone with small children.
6. Avoid aggressive games with puppies and dogs, such as tug-of-war.
7. Do not place your dog in situations where he or she can be teased or feel threatened.
8. Train your dog to obey commands.
There is one other loss exposure concerning dogs you should consider. You may face liability claims if your dog gets out into the road and causes or contributes to an auto accident. Home-owners can be sued for violation of leash ordinances by allowing their dog to “run at large.” Use a well-maintained and sturdy fence or other safeguards to reduce this exposure.