Prevent Dog Bites in the Home (& Outside)

The other day, I read an article regarding dog bite liability claims and how the amount paid out for insurance claims has increased drastically over the past few years…even if the actual number of claims didn’t go up as much. To me, that is absolutely absurd! Not only does it mean that insurance rates go up, but dogs get a bad reputation. If we are trying to keep dogs in their homes, how do turn this around?

So, I had an idea! Let’s talk about how to prevent dog bites in the home and outside!


Prevent Dog Bites in the HomeStatistics on Dog Bites in the Home

Before we get into how to prevent dog bites, let’s talk about statistics.

Dogs and Households

According to the Insurance Information Institute, approximately 85 million dogs reside in about 69 million households. Approximately 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year, and unfortunately, many of those bitten are children. Of these 4.5 million people bitten, 800,000 need medical attention (CDC).

  • 1 in 5 people in the U.S. who are bitten need medical attention
  • Children are more likely to become badly injured from a dog bite.

Insurance Claims and Payouts

In 2022, State Farm states they paid out $211 million in dog related injury cases. The number of claims only increased by 26 from 2021; however, the amount paid increased by approximately $49 million.

The Insurance information Institute shows that insurers paid out $881 million in 2021.

Overall, the number of claims has fallen over time; however, the amount paid out has increased exponentially (around 28%). An average dog bite/injury liability claim will pay almost $65,000.

Survey Says!

State Farm and the National Dog Bite Prevention Coalition also conducted an “Ask Suzy” survey in March 2023 that found the following: (over 1330 people responded to the survey)

    • 23% of participants said they have been injured from being scratched by a dog.
    • 19% of participants said they have been injured by a dog bite.
    • 17% of participants responded “YES” to the question of if their dog has either bitten them or another dog.
    • 11% of participants filed an insurance claim due to a dog-related injury.
    • 6% of participants have either sued or been sued because of a dog-related injury claim.

What States Are Seeing An Increase in Dog Bite Insurance ClaimsPrevent Dog Bites

There are 10 states that have seen an increase in dog bite insurance claims. According to State Farm’s story “When Good Dogs Have Bad Days”, California leads the pack when it comes to the number of claims and the amount paid out.

California is closely followed by Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas, New York, Minnesota, Indiana, and Georgia.

Not in Those States?

Even if you don’t reside in one of these states, don’t let your guard down. You may still have to deal with a dog bite situation or know someone who will go through something similar.

How to Prevent Dog Bites in the Home (& Outside)

Even though these pay out amounts are staggering, it doesn’t mean all hope is lost! There are multiple ways you can help prevent dog bites in the home or outside of the home.

For Dog Owners:

  1. Get to know your dog: This is especially important when you first adopt or purchase from a breeder. Take the time to talk to the shelter or breeder to find out if there are any known triggers or aggressive tendencies.
  2. Do not leave your dog alone with children: Remember, dogs are still animals and have certain instincts. Even if your dog is the best dog in the world and wouldn’t hurt a fly…still take precaution as instinct overrides personality. I remember hearing stories of the family dog attacking a baby when mom took a quick shower. There was no indication that the dog would attack; however, it did. It’s important to avoid that possibility.
  3. Make sure your dog is healthy: Sometimes dogs will bite because they don’t feel good or they are in pain. If you notice a change in their behavior, contact your veterinarian to see if they are sick or injured.
  4. Pay attention to your dog when out and about or when someone approaches the door: It is really important to keep an eye on your dog when on a walk or if you are around people they may not know. A lot of bites have happened when the delivery person comes to the door. Your dog may be super excited (and jump/scratch) or may be trying to protect the home. When out in a different environment, they may become stressed due to being in a new place; around new people or animals etc… Watch them closely and remove them from the environment if you see they are becoming more excitable.
  5. Learn dog body language: There are many behaviorists and training that will help you understand dog body language. A lot of signals may be missed because there is a misunderstanding of what the dog is trying to convey. For example, a dog doesn’t only wag his/her tail when happy. There are other factors to pay attention to when understanding what the tail wag means (where is the tail in relation to the body, is the body tense, how the dog is standing, etc.) This will also help if you are in a situation with an unknown dog.
  6. Take your dog through obedience training: Obedience training can be vital when preventing dog bites. It helps train your dog to listen to you and pay attention to your cues in certain situations. The more control you have over the situation, the more confident your dog will feel in following your direction.
  7. Socialize your dog: This is easier for puppies up to 6 months old as this is the optimal time period where they should be socialized with everything and everybody. For dogs older than 6 months old, it may take more guidance from you and possibly help from a behaviorist. Also remember that some dogs aren’t able to socialize properly, so it may not be good to force that issue. If there are any questions or concerns, talk to a behaviorist.
  8. Exercise your dog: Most breeds need about an hour of exercise a day. To avoid bad behavior or the possibility of dog bites, it is important to get them out on a walk, throw the ball…even, as my son does with Chai, run up and down the stairs playing chase.
  9. Walk your dog on a leash: Besides many states/communities having leash laws, so many people think their dog will be ok off-leash. We need to remember that even the best of dogs can bite, so keeping them on-leash helps reduce putting them in a bad situation.
  10. If you are worried about possible dog bites, there are tools on the market: If you know your dog can be aggressive or get stressed in certain situations, there are tools that you can utilize to minimize damages. One of the best tools is a basket muzzle. This is a muzzle that will keep your dog from biting anyone, but they will still be able to drink and breathe comfortably. Click HERE for options:

Encounters with dogs outside the home

  1. Always ask if you can pet somebody’s dog: It is so difficult to keep your hands to yourself when you encounter a floofy ball of cuteness. Unfortunately, if you reach out to the wrong fur baby, you may get bitten. Be sure you (and your children) always ask for permission to pet a dog.
  2. Don’t run towards a dog: If you run towards a dog, the dog may take that action as aggression and may bite you in defense.
  3. Don’t bark or growl at a dog: This can be considered teasing the dog and can increase their excitability. They may see it as play…or they may see it as a sign of aggression. It’s best to keep things neutral with dogs you don’t know.
  4. Don’t approach barking, growling, or scared dogs: This is extremely important for those who are not trained to handle these types of issues. If you come across a stray that is barking, growling, or is scared, keep your distance and call animal care and control.
  5. Teach your children to respect the dog’s space: Kids are notorious for wanting to interact with cute, fluffy animals. Teach them how to approach a dog; ask for permission to pet the dog, and to steer clear of sketchy situations.
  6. Remember Service Dogs are not to be disturbed: When you are out and about and come across a service dog, please be respectful of the dog and his/her handler. The dog is working and cannot be disturbed. If you approach and distract the dog from his/her job, they may miss important triggers for their handler’s illness or disability. This can result in the handler becoming injured or hospitalized.
  7. Remember dogs are animals…not human. We tend to anthropomorphize our pets, but what we forget is that they are not fully domesticated. Our dogs still have certain instincts and may act on them even when you don’t understand why. This means, even though you may have good interactions with a neighborhood dog, it may not happen in the future. Be aware of your environment, the dog’s body language, and remember they are still very much an animal.

It’s Not Better to Ask Forgiveness

I understand there are many people who have well-trained dogs and understand their dogs behavior inside and out. Unfortunately, this is not the case for the majority of us, so being precautious is always beneficial when it comes to avoiding dog bites.

It’s not like the saying “It’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission”. If you don’t take the precautions, forgiveness may never come and your insurance policy (and maybe you) pay a lot of money for a dog bite claim.

Talk To Your Property Insurance Agent For Coverage Information And How to Prevent Dog Bites in the Home

So much information on how to avoid dog bite claims, but what do you consider when it comes to your insurance policy?

Many insurance companies don’t exclude certain dog breeds; however, it is important to talk with your agent or broker to ask if your insurance company does exclude your dog’s breed. If your dog’s breed is excluded for liability coverage, you will be responsible for the full amount of damages if your dog bites someone.

Liability Options

When you determine if your dog is covered, talk to your agent or broker regarding liability limits. Remember, the average dog bite/injury claim has jumped to an average of $65, 000, so you will want to be sure you have enough coverage. I recommend at least $500,000 in liability coverage to be on the safe side.

Umbrella Coverage

Also discuss the possibility of a personal liability insurance policy (PLUP). This will cover over and above the homeowner’s liability limit up to the policy limits. (the average is $1M limit) These policies are fairly inexpensive; however there are certain conditions you have to meet to qualify. For example, my PLUP requires that I carry higher auto policy limits.

Overall, the insurance premiums will be a little higher; however, you know that in the event of a covered dog bite claim, the insurance company will have your back.

When in Doubt…

When in doubt, talk to your agent or broker. They will be able to give you the rundown of specific state laws, insurance regulations and what you need to do in the event of dog bite liability claim (being the insured or the claimant).



I understand there is a lot to unpack in this article; but I want to make sure you, your family, and your fur baby are safe…(and that you don’t end up in one of these types of claims). The amount of insurance claims paid out in 2022 was crazy! Let’s see if we can’t do something on our part to reduce the payouts in 2023 and in the future.

Let’s Work Together!

There are so many things we can do as responsible dog owners and dog lovers to keep our dogs out of these situations. Let’s work together to educate our community and help each other out, so our dogs can live long, happy lives!

Have you been involved in dog bite claim? What was your experience? Are there any tools you use to reduce the potential of a dog bite (like a basket muzzle?)


Sources Used:

8 thoughts on “Prevent Dog Bites in the Home (& Outside)”

  1. Hello Kelly! I just finished reading your article, Prevent Dog Bites In The Home (& Outside), and I really enjoyed it. I would have to agree, sadly it is children who are often the ones that end up caught in the middle between a dog and its bite, unfortunately. But, as you mentioned in your article, there are tons of ways we can prevent this. 

    I would say one of the major issues I’ve noticed between children and dogs is that some parents don’t ensure their child knows how to properly interact with a dog. This is usually where young children like to pet or rather “lightly” hit or “tap” a dog thinking they are petting their dog. But, in reality, dogs are animals, and they don’t think logically sometimes, and they could see this child tapping their head and thinking “Ooh they’re going to hit me!” They’re fighting response kicks in and the jaws lock onto the child. 

    Parents should never leave their children alone with their dog or any dog for that matter. As you said, even if you think your dog is the best-behaved dog in the world, children and dogs for that matter are both quite unpredictable. You step out of the room your child is playing in for all of 10 seconds, that’s all it takes for your baby or toddler to find their way over to your dog, and pull their tail or try and play with your dog in a way they might not be used to. 

    You could return to that same room, and the dog will have forgotten all about having bitten someone, but your child will not. I’ve seen this a lot in adults, who were bitten by their family dog at home when they were 3-5 years old, and those years are formative years. When something like this happens, it stays with you for the rest of your life. I also have encountered people whose dog bite experience,  scarred them for life. And they refused to approach, or even own a dog themselves because they were too afraid of dogs by this point in their life. 

    In my personal opinion, I’ve had dogs my whole life, so have my parents, and I was taught from as young as 3 years old, how to properly care for, and pet dogs. We’ve been lucky, we’ve never had a dog that was a biter. We’ve only ever had 1 dog who was slightly problematic, but he was only problematic when he was around our other dogs. So there was a high risk he might bite one of our other dogs, but he has never bitten any of us before. 

    I think the children are probably the issue in the scenario of dog biting. It usually happens to children who have no experience with dogs, or, they aren’t being supervised by a parent or guardian at the time they get bit, unfortunately. I’m a big believer you train your dog from a young age that biting for any reason isn’t cool for them to do. 

    The same as you might try to teach a child the exact same lesson. And, you might even use that same time to teach your child how to approach their family dog too. And so long as they don’t “bite” or “play rough” with their dog, the dog won’t bite them, and your child won’t get bit either. It’s easier said than done I know, but, we can always try.

    Excellent article Kelly! Thank you for such a great read! 🙂 Looking forward to what article you write next!

    1. Thank you so much! It is unfortunate that kids tend to be the ones to be bitten. I wish parents would take into consideration that dogs are not human (even if they are the best behaved) and that they can still be a bit unpredictable. It is also important that parents teach their children at a young age how to interact. Since my boys were little, we always talked through dog behavior, body language, when to not approach, etc…I wanted to set them and the dog up for success instead of having to deal with dog bites, quarantine, and insurance claims. 

      I appreciate your comments!

  2. As a dog owner, I believe that it is crucial to take responsibility for our pets and their behavior. We should take the necessary steps to prevent dog bites and ensure that our dogs are well-trained, healthy, and socialized. It is disheartening to hear about the rising number of dog bite insurance claims and the negative impact it has on dogs’ reputation. However, it is reassuring to know that there are ways to prevent dog bites, both in the home and outside.

    I have personally witnessed the importance of obedience training and socialization in preventing dog bites. My dog used to be reactive towards other dogs, but after attending obedience classes and socializing with other dogs, he has become more confident and well-behaved. Additionally, I have learned to read my dog’s body language and understand his triggers, which has helped me avoid potentially dangerous situations.

    What are some effective ways to educate the public about responsible dog ownership and prevent dog bites? How can we encourage more dog owners to take the necessary steps to train and socialize their dogs?

    1. I am so happy to hear that you had great success with obedience training and learning your dog’s body language! That is amazing! 

      It will be an ongoing conversation with the public regarding responsible pet ownership. Not everyone will want to hear what you have to say; however, you will have a number of people interested in learning dog bite prevention. One thing I do is, when I bring my dogs out, I talk to the kids and adults about the breed, about what my dogs are conveying with their body language, and to trust their gut instinct when they get the “hair on the back of their neck’ feeling” when coming in contact with a sketchy situation. 

      Another way to continue to the conversation is to support your local shelters. They may be able to hold certain classes or training sessions for the community.

      Lastly, be your dog’s advocate. You know better than anyone else what your dog is able to handle. If you know they are a bit stressed and you have people who want to interact, take the time to educate them on how your dog is feeling and why it is in their best interest to leave your dog alone at that time.

      Thanks so much for your comments!

  3. There is so much good information on this blog post about how to avoid dog bites and people should be careful at all times, especially with kids around. Besides going to dog training schools, is there any way I could learn more online about dog training classes? Or would you recommend any books? I used to like Cesar Milan, but I think he has gotten way to aggressive with his training for dogs that bite and I’m looking for other ways. 
    You also have a good point when saying that you should look at the dog’s health as well, because having pains could make them more aggressive, thanks for mentioning this!

    1. Hi Lizzy,

      I agree that Cesar is too aggressive in his approach. I trained under Sam Kabbel at Pet Behavior Solutions in Phoenix, AZ; however, I am sure you can go to the Association of Professional Dog Trainers or Certified Professional Dog Trainers websites to find a qualified behaviorist in your area. They may have training available, or a local shelter like Humane Society or SPCA may have programs or materials to review. 

  4. The article addresses a crucial topic that is often overlooked – preventing dog bites. It emphasizes the significance of understanding canine behavior, recognizing warning signs, and implementing proper training and socialization techniques.

    What impressed me most about the article was its comprehensive approach to preventing dog bites both inside and outside the home. It covers various scenarios, such as interactions with children, unfamiliar people, and other animals. The article provides practical tips and guidelines for creating a safe and harmonious environment for both dogs and humans.

    Furthermore, the article highlights the responsibility of dog owners in educating themselves and others about dog behavior and safety. It stresses the importance of teaching children how to interact with dogs appropriately and respectfully, reducing the risk of incidents.

    I appreciated the inclusion of real-life examples and case studies, which helped illustrate the potential consequences of neglecting dog bite prevention measures. This added authenticity and urgency to the article’s message.

    Overall, “Prevent Dog Bites in the Home and Outside” serves as a valuable resource for dog owners and anyone who interacts with dogs regularly. The article’s emphasis on education, training, and responsible ownership fosters a safer and more compassionate environment for both humans and dogs. It is a reminder of the importance of proactive measures to prevent dog bites and promote positive relationships between humans and our beloved canine companions.

    1. Thank you so much! It is definitely crucial that we promote the positive relationships between humans and our doggy companions!

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