According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), as of 2018, there were more than 78 million dogs in the United States, which resulted in 4.5 million dog bites! The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports over 36% of households in the U.S. own at least one dog and bites often occur by dogs who are familiar to us.
Between 2000 and 2015, 56.7% of dog-bite related injuries were to children under the age of 16, which accounted for one-third of all homeowners' liability insurance claims, totaling $675 million in 2018. The average insurer payment for dog-bite related injury claims increased 5.3% from 2015 $37,329 to $39,017 in 2018.
Help prevent injuries by training your pooch
When considering a new dog, look for a breed that fits with your family, especially if you have young children.
Consider consulting a professional (veterinarian, animal behaviorist or responsible breeder) for help in selecting the best breed for your situation. Such animal experts can also assist with proper socialization and training.
Other important considerations:
- Take time to get to know a dog before buying or adopting it.
- Spay or neuter your pet.
- Seek professional advice if your dog develops aggressive behaviors.
- Make sure your liability insurance covers the type and breed of dog you own.
Avoiding dog bites
Children are most at risk for dog bites, but anyone can be a victim. Following these simple safety tips can reduce your chances of being injured:
- Do not approach an unfamiliar dog.
- If a strange or threatening dog approaches you, do not run or scream; remain motionless. Try to back against (or climb) a tree or car. Then call for help.
- If knocked over by a dog, roll into a ball, put your fists over your ears and lie still.
- Don’t allow children to play with a dog unless they’re supervised by an adult.
- Don’t stare; direct eye contact with a dog can make it feel threatened.
- Don’t disturb a dog that is sleeping, eating or caring for puppies.
- Allow a dog to see and sniff you before you pet it.
Additional dog safety resources
For more information about preventing dog bites, visit these sites:
- The Humane Society of the United States – dog bite prevention, breeds.
- American Kennel Club – Breeds, training, responsible dog ownership tips.