A little bite from a puppy may not seem like a big deal, but as your puppy becomes a dog, those bites can become more serious. As dogs get bigger, their jaws develop more strength and they have the potential to do a lot more damage. To protect your family, your friends, and even your dog, you need to stop the biting before it spells trouble. Even if it’s your dog’s one and only bite, you can be sued if someone is harmed.
Reasons Dogs Bite
Dogs bite for a number of different reasons. They may snap when they’re feeling possessive over an area, a toy, or their food. In other cases, they may bite out of fear, such as when they’re dealing with a vet or a stranger. Just as humans lash out when they’re in pain, dogs too may bite if they’re hurt. Mothers may even bite if they feel like their pups are in danger. Sometimes, dogs simply fall back on their evolutionary instinct to chase prey, and they bite because of that.
Stopping Your Dog from Biting
To prevent your dog from biting, try to identify why he’s biting. For instance, if he nipped you when you tried to take a toy back from him, he may be biting due to possessiveness. To prevent that from happening, you need to train your dog to “drop” or “leave” items on command. You should also train him to “wait” before giving him snacks so that he doesn’t encroach upon your plate or your hand. To be on the safe side, contact a dog trainer to help you. If you allow your dog to continue biting, the biting is likely to get worse.
Also, reduce stranger anxiety by exposing your dogs to a number of different situations, but do it in a slow and steady way that is easy on the dog. For instance, let him meet some of your friends when he’s safely on a leash, but limit interaction to 10 or 15 minutes until he’s comfortable. Also, get to know the signs that your dog is feeling anxious and may be about to bite.
Signs Your Dog Might Bite
Dogs usually show a number of aggressive behaviors before they attack. When dogs are uncomfortable, the fur stands up on their back. At the same time, dogs expose their teeth and the whites of their eyes while pinning back their ears. In other cases, dogs may act standoffish by holding their ground or making direct eye contact with other dogs. When you see these signs, get your dog out of that situation and into a space where he can calm down.
Risks to Your Children
If you have children, they face an even larger risk of being bitten than you do. In fact, over half of all dog bite victims are children under the age of 13. Children and even babies are also much more likely to die from dog attacks than adults. Arguably, their small stature makes them more vulnerable than adults, and small children may provoke or interrupt dogs in ways that make them snap.
In addition to thinking about your family’s safety, you also need to think about your liability if your dog bites someone else. When it comes to dog bites, Massachusetts is a strict liability state. In other words, you are criminally and civilly liable if your dog attacks someone. The only exception is if your dog attacks someone age seven or older who is trespassing on your property, physically attacking you, or provoking the dog.
If your dog has a history of aggressive behavior, you may face even greater liability. The prosecuting attorney may try to argue that you should have take action before your dog attacked.
Have you been attacked, bitten, or injured by a dog? If so, you may be entitled to compensation. To learn more, contact Mazow | McCullough, PC today. We can start with a free case evaluation and help you decide the next steps.