Dog bites cost insurers $489 million in 2012 – more than a third of all Homeowners Liability claims, says a study by the Insurance Information Institute and State Farm!
Pet owners can help prevent bites by following these guidelines based on the instinctual behavior of their best friends:
- Consider your dog’s “rank.” Canines have superior/subordinate relationships similar those in to the military; the rank of family and guests dictates a dog’s behavior towards them. A high-ranking “general” dog won’t tolerate insubordinate behavior from a perceived lowly “private” child or guest, such as trying to take food or toys away from him.
- Don’t yell. Because your dog doesn’t know you’ve ordered pizza, he’s agitated by the “threat” of the delivery at the door and starts barking. Yelling at him to stop increases his anxiety, so, when the door opens, he bites the delivery person. Instead, it’s best to greet guests at the door and reassure your dog.
- Treat strangers as friends. Dogs respond to their owners’ behavior about the safety of a situation. A dog can easily perceive a stranger who meets and interacts formally with its owner as being an enemy – or prey. Owners who hold a leash too tightly can unwittingly trigger a dangerous “fight or flight” response in their dogs. Relaxing and acting like a friend when you meet strangers should elicit a friendly response from the dog.
- Don’t let your dog feel trapped. Dogs don’t care about your home, car, or the valuables they might contain. When they’re in a home or car, they can easily feel trapped in an enclosed area and will respond to strangers with a fight-or-flight reaction. You need to: 1) to train your dog to signal someone’s approach calmly; and then 2) assert authority over the situation.