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Preventing dog bites:

Tips to keep you and your children safe

Madison, Wis. (July 9, 2013) – There are tremendous responsibilities and potential liabilities that come with owning a dog. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports there are approximately 4.7 million dog bites per year, resulting in 800,000 injuries that require medical attention. Half of those injuries are to people under age18.

Dog behavior is a serious concern for everyone. Insurance companies often pay civil judgments for dog bites that happen on their customers’ properties. Those payments affect insurance premiums that policyholders pay.

Dog bites cost the property/casualty insurance industry roughly $413 million in 2010. Since 2003, the cost of these claims has risen nearly 37 percent. When you consider those types of claims account for nearly one-third of homeowner’s liability claims, it is important to do everything you can to prevent dog bites.

The Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. Humane Society offer the following tips on how to prevent dog attacks. Share this information with your loved ones for protection in a variety of situations:

For owners:

  • Responsibility as a dog owner begins before the puppy or dog is brought home for the first time. Research dog breeds and select a dog suitable to your family and lifestyle. If you are buying a puppy, ask to meet the parents and observe the setting in which the young dog was raised.
  • Train or socialize your dog. Don’t play aggressive games with your dog.
  • Spay or neuter your dog.
  • Seek professional advice if your dog starts to become aggressive, such as growling or nipping.
  • Closely supervise children when around dogs. The size of a child may cause a dog to act in a dominant way toward a child. 
    For everyone:
    • If a strange or threatening dog approaches, stand still. Don’t run or scream. Try to back against a tree or car. If you have time, climb on a car or up a tree. Then call for help. If the dog moves away, you can then move away carefully.
    • If a dog knocks you down, lie on the ground with knees tucked to your chest and a fist over each ear. Remain very still and quiet.
    • Don’t stare. Staring threatens dogs.
    • Be aware that approximately 80 percent of dog bites occur in the victim’s home or at a friend’s home. These “friendly” dog bites account for the majority of treated dog bites.

    To learn more about preventing dog bites please visit our Learning Center.

    American Family insurance is the nation's third-largest mutual property/casualty insurance company. Web: www.amfam.com; Facebook: www.facebook.com/amfam; Twitter: www.twitter.com/amfam. Google+: https://plus.google.com/+amfam