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Dog on Walk

Millions of people are bitten by dogs each year, which results in a lot of costly homeowners insurance claims. According to the Insurance Information Institute, in 2013 insurers across the country paid over $483 million in dog bite claims.

Aside from emotional trauma, dog bites can cause severe physical injury. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 26,935 reconstructive procedures were performed in 2013 to repair injuries caused by dog bites.

One of the most concerning stats related to dog bites is how often children are the victims of dog bites. According to the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control, dog bites were the 11th leading cause of nonfatal injury to children ages 1-4, ninth for ages 5-9 and 10th for ages 10-14 from 2003-2012. The Washington, D.C.-based American Humane Association reports that 66% of bites among children occur to the head and neck.

The good news, however, is that the majority of bites are preventable, according to the Schaumburg, Ill.-based American Veterinary Medical Association.

Here are eight tips on how to prevent dog bites:

1. Start when they are puppies

Puppies nip and bite — much like human babies, they learn about and explore their world with their mouths. Dog owners should teach puppies that any contact of their mouth with human skin or clothes is unacceptable, even if they are playing.

When a puppy bites, stop playing with it and giving it attention. Repeating this action will train them not to bite playfully — which can lead to accidents when they’re older and stronger.

2. Socializing is key

Socializing dogs is an important step in preventing dog bites. Many times when dogs show aggression when meeting or seeing unfamiliar people and/or dogs, it is because they feel insecure and are uncomfortable with the situation.

When a dog meets a new person or dog, teach them to look at the new creature and then at you. Reassure them that the situation is okay and you are there for them. When your dog learns that you are calm in a new situation, they, too will be more confident.

3. Know your dog

Sometimes even socialized dogs just don’t like interacting with others (sometimes, or at all). Their behavior towards others can tell a lot about how they may react towards strangers.

If you know your dog doesn’t like being pet by strangers, make sure to prevent the action from occurring. Tell the person how your dog reacts and wait for the dog to initiate any contact with a new person.

4. Let sleeping dogs lie

Touching a dog who is laying peacefully or sleeping can shock and disturb them and cause them to react aggressively.

Leave dogs who are resting or sleeping alone, and instead call them to you.

5. Desensitize your dog to a fear source

Oftentimes dogs act aggressive and bite because they are scared.

Find out what the source of a dog’s fear is and desensitize them to it. Like with socializing dogs, teach them that the source of their fear is nothing to be feared and that you are there to protect them.

6. Take them to the vet

If you can’t figure out why your dog is acting aggressively, or if they are acting uncharacteristically aggressive, it wouldn’t hurt to take them to the vet for a medical checkup.

Pain, chemical or hormonal imbalances can all trigger aggression.

7. Don’t respond with aggression or force

If your dog does bite, do not punish it with an angry or forceful response. A reaction like that from its owner will just make a dog more insecure.

Instead, go back and try to identify the source of the dog’s insecurity and try to remedy its behavior accordingly.

8. Always supervise dogs with children

No matter how good a dog is, it is important to always supervise it when it is around children. Sudden movements and acts of affection from children can frighten dogs and cause them to react by biting.

For more pet tips check out:

SOURCE - Property Casualty 360 - 8 Tips for Preventing Dog Bites
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