Dog owners know that sometimes dogs bite. Something may have scared or threatened the dog. They could be protecting someone or even be playing. While your dog is not likely to bite someone, a serious bite can cause great damage. Dog owners need to be prepared if that happens.
About dog bites
About 4.5 million dog bites happen per year in the U.S., according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). When compared to the 328.2 million people who live in the U.S., a dog will bite 1 out of 73 people each year. However, the vast majority of those bites (81%) cause either no injury or injuries too small to require medical attention.
Protecting yourself and your dog
There are several ways you can prepare in advance for the chance that your dog may bite someone. Yes, your dog is a good dog—most dogs are good dogs. You never know what a dog may do if backed into a corner and threatened.
Dog liability insurance
Yes, an insurance policy just for dog bites exists. If your dog bites someone, you can file a claim. Dog insurance is particularly good for renters (and landlords) or if you have a “dangerous dog breed.”
Be aware that some breeds bite more often than others. Pick a dog carefully, know its individual temperament and avoid aggressive dogs. The breeds that bite most often are:
• English Bulldog
• Pit Bull
• German Shepherd
• Australian Shepherd
• Lhasa Apso
• Jack Russell Terrier
• Cocker Spaniel
• Bull Terrier
Train your dog
Spend time socializing your dog when you first get it. If it is used to being around people, it is less likely to bite. Unneutered dogs bite more often, so spay or neuter your pet. Do not encourage aggressive play with your dog, its play may be too rough for other people.
The risk of a dog bite is low, and a harmful one much lower. Still, the cost of a dog bite is high, averaging $37,000 for bites that injure. A little preparation can take you a long way.