We deal with a lot of clients who are bitten by dogs. In fact, every year nearly 5 million people are bitten by dogs and roughly 20% of those dog bites will result in medical treatment. Orange County’s dog bite guidelines allow victims to recover compensation when a negligent person has caused the dog attack, when a pet owner has violated leash laws or when someone has knowingly housed a dog with a reputation for hurting people.
If you’re seeking legal advice for dealing with a dog bite in Orange County, check our dog bite victim information page. If you’re a dog owner and want to learn about the best practices for preventing dog bites so you can reduce your risk, check out these 5 things pet owners need to do to prevent dog bites:
1. Keep Your Dog on a Leash. At home, make sure your dog is behind a fence or inside. When guests come to visit, be mindful of your dog’s body language and energy level before introducing him to others. As far as the dog can tell, these people are invading his territory and unless you’re 100% sure that the interaction will be friendly, it’s probably not worth the risk. According to Cesar Milan, dog possessiveness, dog fear and maternal instinct are the most common forces behind dog bites and these instincts are more likely to kick in at home.
2. Re-home a Dog That Could be Risky. Some dogs simply aren’t suited to homes with children or other pets. Instead of discovering, after the fact, that your dog isn’t OK with your lifestyle, do the responsible thing and work with an agency that specializes in finding a new home for pets. The humane society is a good resource for helping find doggy foster care.
3. Spay or Neuter. Spaying and neutering your dog can help prevent dog bites by decreasing behaviors that often precede dog bites.
4. Exercise and Play With Your Dog Regularly. Dogs who have a ton of nervous energy will bite more often than dogs who get plenty of exercise. Small dogs often require more play and exercise than large breeds, but large breeds require more energy to play with. Choose a breed whose energy level you can work with and make sure he gets plenty of playtime. Playing is one way dogs socialize with each other and for puppies, biting is a form of play. They learn from humans not to bite and proper training of a puppy will come in the form of discipline while playing. The American Kennel Association, pet stores and The Humane Society often have fliers and information on their website about how to train your dog.
5. Learn Dog Bite Warning Signs. A wise observer of dog behavior can sometimes detect a dog bite before it happens. If you see any of the following signs, remove the dog to a safe place:
- The dog’s ears are pinned back
- The fur along the dog’s back is standing up
- You might be able to see the whites of their eyes
- “Yawning” is actually an aggressive baring-of-teeth, not a sign of tiredness
- Freezing in response to touch
- Intense eye contact with or without growling
Nearly every dog bite can be prevented and if you’ve been involved in a dog bite, contact us to learn more about your legal rights and responsibilities.