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You are walking your dog on the sidewalk, something startles your 4 legged pal and WHAM…out of nowhere, his jaws are gripping a random pedestrian’s calf. You feel terrible, guilty and scared because you don’t know what’s going to happen to you or your dog. Not many people really believe their precious best friend will bite anyone. It’s one of those things you deny will every happen; sticking your head in the sand with this possibility can be an absolute nightmare (physically hurting someone or another animal, incurring medical and legal expenses). It’s imperative to take the necessary precautions to avoid this from occurring so you won’t present a threat of harm to the health and safety of others.

Owners with dogs that have a documented bite history (with animal control) are often subject to administrative action and you may also incur criminal responsibility and/or face civil liability.

Believe it or not, 1 in 50 Americans has a chance of being bitten by a dog each year (according to the Center for Disease Control). It’s a staggering stat. With dog bite claims on the rise, it’s critical that owners become responsible and proactive by taking precautionary action to avoid future incidents.

The $64K question: What can you do to prevent your dog from biting?

1. Keep your dog in a well fenced area without access to other people.

2. DO NOT KEEP YOUR DOG ON A CHAIN!!!! How pissed would you be if someone kept you on a chain? Tying down your dog for 3+ hours is against the law!!! If you know of someone that does this, call your local animal control officer.

3. When in public, keep your dog on a leash and always be aware of your surroundings (other people, other animals, local activities that could potentially startle your dog, etc.).

4. Spay or neuter your dog. As a general rule, dogs that aren’t spayed or neutered are 3 TIMES more likely to bite. If cost is an issue, there are many low cost spay/neuter options. Call your local shelter or if you are close to San Diego contact SNAP at 619-525-3047.

5. Socialize and train your dog in a controlled environment.

6. Don’t play games that promote aggression such as wrestling, tug-of-war or letting your dog play bite.

7. Be cautious when introducing your dog to a new environment/situation. Don’t put your dog in a situation where it can fail/bite.

8. Never leave your dog alone with a small child. Supervision is necessary.

9. Make sure your dog is up to date on rabies shots and all vaccinations.

10. Purchase a home, condo, renter and/or liability insurance policy that also covers the actions of your dog(s). Check out for more details.

How can you best prepare to avoid being bitten by other dogs?

1. NEVER approach an unfamiliar dog without asking an owner if you can pet their dog. If the owner says yes, slowly put your hand out and let the dog sniff you first.
2. NEVER run from a dog and scream.
3. Remain still when approached by an unfamiliar dog.
4. If knocked over by a dog, roll into a ball and stay still.
5. ALWAYS supervise a child when playing with a dog.
6. DO NOT bother a dog that is eating, sleeping or caring for puppies.

As a dog owner, it’s your responsibility to make sure you do everything in your power to prevent any dog related issues. We all know, it’s not the breed, it’s the owner.

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