Included as a part of your homeowner’s insurance is what is called general liability. Most people hear this phrase and are unsure how this coverage works or where it really applies. Well, do you own a dog? If you do, general liability could be an extremely important part of your homeowner’s policy. Dog bites and other dog-related injuries accounted for over one-third of all homeowner’s insurance general liability claims dollars in 2015. This amount totaled over $570 million, with the average claim amounting to $37,214. This number, however, does not truly reflect the amount of dog bites that occur each year. It is estimated that up to half of all dog-related injuries are not reported due to the victim being in close relation to the dog owner (such as a relative, friend or close neighbor). Unfortunately, half of these dog bites are suffered by children under 13. So, how can you go about preventing a dog bite from occurring with your own pooch? Check out these tips to stay out of the dog house!
- Keep the dog social. Early socialization can be extremely important toward preventing dog bites. If a dog is accustomed to being around people, the presence of people will not scare it. Get your dog familiar with those it will be interacting with on a regular basis, such as family members, a vet or even a postal worker. Often times, dog bites occur out of fear, but if a dog is familiar and comfortable the humans it interacts with most, the chance of it biting will decrease.
- Avoid making the dog protect himself. Many dog bites also occur as a result of the dog being pestered, poked or prodded too hard or just one too many times. If a dog is experiencing pain, its instincts will trigger and it may bite simply in self-defense. Educate your children about how to act around a dog so that they do not provoke it to the point of pain.
- Beware of mothers. Dogs that have recently given birth have a maternal instinct that will make even the friendliest dog bite. If a mother dog feels as though her pups are threatened or in danger, she will stop at nothing to protect them. If you do not plan on breeding, spay/neuter your pets to prevent this instinct from surfacing in your dog.
At the end of the day, you are financially responsible for your dog and its actions. Even one occurrence could lead to your insurance company cancelling you, or worse, your dog needing to be put down. Keep in mind, in Indiana it is considered a Class C infraction to allow a dog to stray from its property without being under the reasonable control of a person. This could lead to liability due to negligence. It is important to make sure your dog is trained, socialized and fenced when necessary.