When your dog bites someone, a lot of emotions come into play. Often disbelief, fear, denial, guilt, and sadness surface, all of which can be difficult to experience. While Oakhurst Veterinary Hospital would love to see a world where only puppy kisses exist, we know all too well that sometimes nature takes over and our sweet pets show their instinctual behaviors.
So if your dog bites someone, what do you do? Keeping your wits about you is a good start so that you can address the immediate situation and prevent it from occurring again.
Stop, Drop, Roll
Obviously, if you witness your dog biting someone, you need to get involved in the situation immediately. Take a deep breath then go ahead and:
- Remove the dog from the situation (this may mean putting them outside, in a crate, or even just closed in a different room).
- Attend to the victim and apply pressure to stop any bleeding and wash the wound
- Seek medical attention, even if the injuries do not appear serious
- If the person is not someone from your immediate family, provide them with your contact information
- Notify the appropriate authorities
Assessing the Situation and Taking Action
After you are sure that the bite receiver is okay, you will need to go back and assess the biter. Most dogs do not bite without a cause. It is important to try to determine the cause so that you can prevent the situation from happening again.
Common reasons for dog bites include:
- Protecting territory, resources such as food or toys, or a member of the pack (including yourself)
- Startling the dog
- The victim running away, either out of fear or play
- Injury or illness
Training early in life and ongoing can certainly help you to handle your pet better, learn warning body language, and navigate difficult situations. Never discipline your pet for growling or exhibiting other warning behaviors that precede a bite, as these are valuable signs for you to intervene in the situation.
There are certainly pets who may bite without warning or obvious triggers. Please contact us if you need help determining how to best proceed with these types of predicaments as it can be very emotional and difficult.
The Legalities of Dog Bites
In New Jersey, you are liable for a dog bite as the dog’s owner unless you are able to prove negligence on the part of the bite-e. This means that you are going to be on the hook for medical expenses and the like no matter what, especially if the bite took place in a public area, so there is absolutely no reason to not comply and do the right thing from the start.
If your dog is determined to be dangerous, other penalties such as state-mandated training classes, muzzling, and the like may be ordered. In rare situations a pet may be ordered euthanized, but these are typically extreme cases.
You can definitely help the situation to have a better outcome by being sure that your pet is up to date on its rabies vaccination, taking your pet for training and socialization classes, and cooperating and reporting bites promptly.
Dog bites happen, and most of the time something can be done to prevent them from occurring again. In the event of a bite, you should always work on training with an experienced trainer so as not to make the situation worse, and never hesitate to ask for help.