The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that around 4.5 million dog bite incidents are reported every year. While some states have a “one bite rule” so that owners, under specific circumstances are protected from liability for the first injury caused by the dog, other states follow the “mixed dog bite” statute, and owners have strict liability. Florida does not recognize the “one bite rule” and also uses “dangerous dog” laws, wherein certain canines have been known to be dangerous to people in the past. Victims may sue dog owners for damages such as lost wages, medical bills, and emotional trauma. If you are a dog owner, here’s what you can do to prevent your dog from biting people.
Take your dog to an obedience training class.
The earlier you do this, the better your chances of avoiding a dog-bite situation. Obedient dogs tend to be calm and relaxed and trust their human companions better than the untrained ones. They should obey basic commands like sit, stand, come, leave, etc. Apparently, Queen Elizabeth’s corgis sit in a semi-circle according to seniority and wait patiently for their turn!
Help them socialize.
Most dogs bite because of their fear of humans. This is especially true when they’re startled. So teach your children to never surprise a dog when it’s sleeping or relaxed. Introduce your dogs to people outside the family early in their life so that they’re comfortable around humans. Well- socialized dogs are also less likely to be territorial or anxious when guests come visiting.
Learn your dog’s body language.
Pet owners who spend time with their dogs are likely to recognize the early stages of aggression or anxiety. Make sure that the dog is removed before the situation escalates.
Better safe than sorry.
Use a muzzle when you’re taking the dog out for a walk or while training. Never leave children younger than ten alone with dogs. Teach children to respect dogs and treat them gently.
But you aren’t liable for damages if the victim had trespassed on your property. Speak to a personal injury lawyer in Florida to discuss your rights and obligations when owning a dog.