Your dog is a part of the family and you love them as such. But as with any family member, they can cause you a headache from time to time. The difference, is that you are liable for their actions. That liability can cause you significant financial and emotional stress, especially when a claim is filed after your dog has bitten someone.
Whether your dog exhibits aggressive tendencies or is frequently calm it is important to understand that the potential is always there. Even if the actions of someone were logically threatening in the eyes of your canine you can’t trust that the individual will be understanding after the fact. Today, we hope to put a leash on potential liability concerns surrounding your beloved family pet.
6 Ways For Dog Owners to Minimize Liability and Keep Others Safe
1. Know the Truth About Your Breed
It’s important to note the breeds most commonly associated with attacks. These indeed include Pit Bulls and Rottweilers, but also German Shepherds, Dobermans, Huskies, and wolf hybrids. However, don’t assume that because your dog doesn’t fall under the “usual suspects” list of breeds most likely to bite that you’re off the hook. For example, more recent reports from overseas show that popular family pet, the Labrador, is responsible for the highest number of canine attack personal injury claims. After Pit Bulls were banned in Ontario in 2005, reported dog bites have actually been on the rise, with the Labrador taking the second spot behind the German Shepherd.
Contrary to some beliefs, temperament of species may not be the issue. These animals are stronger. If they have the same bad moment that a small poodle has, the physical impact on the person is greater. So, even if the temperament of your large family pet is mild, the breed and strength alone indicates that you will need to exercise more caution in public spaces.
2. On-Leash at All Times
One of the easiest ways to prevent a dog bite is to keep your dog on a leash at all times unless in a designated park. Liability goes up exponentially if your pet bites someone when it was supposed to be on a leash in the first place. Every municipality website has an off-leash directory. In Vancouver, this list is complemented by a map, guidelines and dog etiquette strategy. Take advantage of these resources to remain free from lability concerns surrounding your pet.
3. Clear Signs on All Yard Entryways
Most dog attacks occur on the pet owner’s property in either the front yard or front entrance to the home. Take stock of where your dog is allowed to roam during the day. Keep them in the backyard as an alternative and install a retractable dog gate in the home so that they don’t have access to the hallway entrance. If a backyard is not an option, post signs at the front of your property to let visitors know that a potentially aggressive dog is on the premises.
4. Be Extra Cautious Around Kids
Most dog bite reports involve children. Children don’t understand the risk that we do, and are more likely to push the wrong buttons (pull a tail, swat the dog, etc.). Your dog may simply be defending itself but given its strength (and sharp teeth) the physical impact on a child can be significant or worse. Don’t bring your dog on school grounds or near a children’s playground, the breeding ground for aggravation. But diligence must also occur at home with respect to the education of your own children, or that of family and friends. Owned, or known dogs, account for most attacks, so prevention must happen on the home front first.
5. Consider a Dog Whisperer
Certified Applied Animal Behaviorists (CAAB), more affectionately known as Dog Whisperers, can be a big help. If you have adopted a new puppy, you can nip the potential for aggression in the bud at an early age. However, if you have a mature dog, a specialized behaviorist can still be effective.
6. Make Sure You Have Adequate Insurance to Protect You from Dog Bite Liability
The facts are simple. As a dog owner, you are liable for any injuries that your pet causes, even if it does not involve a bite. Contact PARK Insurance to ensure that you have the coverage you need to keep safe from the potential bite of owning a dog.
View more (from PARK Insurance) on how to prevent dog aggression here.