Fall is a big season for dog parks, as owners try to get their canines outside as much as possible before the cold air of winter sets in. Bite risk will be heightened as a result.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a public agency devoted to population health management, states that America experiences 4.5 million dog bites annually.
The Insurance Information Institute, a nonprofit organization that focuses on insurance research and analysis, notes the average bite claim was $37,214 last year, and such claims accounted for more than 33 percent of all homeowner liability claims.
Here are some steps you can take to prevent your dog(s) from biting people or another canine.
Best practices of bite prevention
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, a national nonprofit organization devoted to animal rights, suggests the following to dog owners:
- Socialize the dog with people and other animals from a young age.
- Train the dog for obedience, as this will increase control and reduce the chances of a bite.
- If there is any moment when the dog shows an aggressive side, bring it to a certified applied animal behaviorist.
- Know the dog's personality and behavior, especially when faced with triggers such as strangers or aggressive animals.
- Never leave dogs alone with children under the age of 10.
The American Veterinary Medical Association, a nonprofit organization that represents veterinarians, points out that children and senior citizens are the most common victims of dog bites. As such, do not put your dog - nor the children and senior citizens in your family - in harm's way by leaving them together unattended.
Further steps to protect yourself
If you do not own a dog, make sure you understand the warning signs of body language and aggression to protect yourself and your family. The Humane Society, a nonprofit group dedicated to the protection of animals, states that intense stares, furrowed brows and stiff tails are all warning signs that a dog might attack.
If you do own a dog, the steps above can help, but you will also want to ensure you have sufficient liability coverage in case an attack occurs. Do not let an event occur and then face an average price tag of more than $37,000. Instead, get in touch with your independent agent to protect your family and assets in the event of a dog bite and #rethink your personal insurance.