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5 Ways to Reduce the Risk of Dog Bites

Published August 31, 2014 by Scott Gottlieb, Injury Law Attorney
Dog bite

Every year as the weather warms, it is not uncommon to spend far more time outdoors. This is especially true of people with pets. Pet owners can be found walking their dogs around town, playing with their dogs in the parks, taking their dogs to the beach and even bringing their pets to eat at restaurants with outdoor seating areas. With this increased socialization also comes an increased risk.

Dogs are animals. It can be difficult to predict how they will react in certain situations. If you are a dog owner, here are 5 ways you can dramatically reduce your risk of dog bites in summer:

  1. Do not allow children or others to approach your dog while he or she is eating, playing or interacting with another dog.
  2. Learn how to read your dog’s signs. Growling is not the only sign your dog is uncomfortable or upset. If your dog’s ears are pinned-back, lips are tight, tail is tucked under or your dog is heavily panting, it could be a sign something is wrong.
  3. Give your dog a lot of opportunities to socialize with other dogs and burn off energy. Exercise, scheduled playtimes and time where your dog can interact with other dogs in a safe environment can all reduce the risk of dog bites.
  4. Keep your dog well hydrated. When possible, keep your dog inside in a cool space during the hottest times of the day. While a hot sidewalk may not seem hot to you, it could burn the pads of your dog’s feet. Putting your dog in a stressful or painful situation could invoke aggressive behavior.
  5. Invest in professional behavior training for your dog. If your dog is properly trained, listens to commands and knows how to act in certain situations, he or she will be less likely to act aggressively regardless of the situation.

These actions alone cannot only protect others from being bitten, but it can prevent your dog from being unnecessarily punished.

If your dog bites another person, can you be held liable?

In the state of New York, a dog owner can only be held liable for his or her dog biting another person if it can be proven that the owner was aware of the dog’s aggressive tendencies and proper steps were not taken to prevent injury. If a dog has no record of aggression and the owner has no reason to suspect his or her dog may have a tendency to exhibit vicious behavior, the owner is rarely held liable.

As our lead lawyer, Scott C. Gottlieb, points out in this article in the New York Post, “You try to make peace, you apologize to the person who got bit, but you don’t make any admissions.”

If your dog has no history of viciousness or aggression towards others, you had no way of knowing what would happen, and it is very possible that it will not be possible to hold you liable.

Steps Dog Owners Can Take to Protect Themselves and Their Dogs

Those who live in the state of New York and own a dog have certain actions and steps they can take to protect themselves and their dogs if accused of aggression, biting or any attack.

  • Training. The first thing you should do is get your dog trained by a professional. Even the most basic training can instill positive behavior that could prevent a future disaster.
  • Fences. If you do not have a fence around your property, get one and put a sign on it to let people know there is a dog on the property. If you keep your dog inside, be sure to take steps to prevent the dog from getting out and running off.
  • Insurance. Find out if your renter’s or homeowner’s insurance policy covers dog bites and if necessary, purchase a dog bite rider.

Read through our dog bite injury FAQs page to get answers to other questions you may have.

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