Preventing Dog Bites and Aggression in MA
Dog ownership in the U.S. increased dramatically during 2020, as reported in a Washington Post article. This boom in dog sales and adoptions is largely attributed to the global pandemic. More than 11 million American households have acquired a new pet during this time, according to Today’s Veterinary Business. With this increase, it is more important than ever that people learn how to interact safely with pets.
Tips for Dog Owners: Why Is Training Important?
When you welcome a new dog into your home, it is important to train your pup to prevent aggression and bites. Massachusetts has strict liability dog bite laws. Dog owners can be held liable when their dogs cause personal injury or property damage, provided the injured person or owner of the damaged property was not trespassing, provoking the dog, or committing a tort (wrongful act or infringement of a right) when the incident occurred.
Under state law, it does not matter if your pet never acted aggressively or bit anyone before. If your dog causes injury or property damage, you can be held liable. The statute applies even if you took reasonable care to restrain your dog and prevent the animal from harming others.
Training Your Dog to Help Prevent Aggression
Any dog is capable of biting under certain circumstances. It is a natural instinct for these animals to bite when they feel threatened in some way. With this in mind, owners are responsible to keep their pets under control and to train them not to act aggressively. The following tips can help you prevent biting and aggressive behavior in your dog:
- Take your dog at least through basic obedience training, and continue with the training program throughout the dog’s life.
- Start as early as possible exposing your dog to different situations, such as other dogs, machinery, automobiles, bicycles, motorcycles, loud noises, and anything that could make the dog feel fearful or nervous. Keep these exposures as positive as possible for your pet.
- Allow your dog to meet and interact with all types of people of different ages in calm, positive situations.
- Use positive reinforcement—praise and treats—to train your dog. This is more effective than violent, physical, or aggressive punishment, as dogs naturally want to please their owners.
- Observe your dog carefully for any signs of aggression or situations that may trigger it.
- Keep your dog on a leash or in a fenced area until you know the dog well. If you let the dog off the leash, do so only in permitted areas and keep your eye on the animal at all times.
- If you suspect your dog might be aggressive, warn others, and do not allow the dog to approach people or animals, except in strictly controlled situations.
- Keep your dog’s shots up to date, and particularly the rabies vaccinations.
Tips for Non-Owners: How to Interact with Dogs Safely
Children and adults alike need to know how to interact with dogs safely—and when not to approach them at all. A good rule of thumb is to never approach a dog that is sleeping, eating, or caring for puppies. Never approach an unfamiliar dog unless the owner gives his or her permission first, and don’t put your face near the dog. If you see an injured dog, call animal control or a vet for assistance—do not approach, touch, or attempt to move the dog.
Get Legal Help After a Dog Bite
If you or your child were seriously injured in a dog attack, call DiBella Law Offices, P.C. at (617) 870-0907 to schedule a free consultation. We have handled cases throughout Massachusetts and have a reputation for results. Our Boston dog bite attorneys can explain your options under the law.