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Page 2: Breeds that bite and preventive measures

Prevention is the best medicine

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The best way to make sure your home insurance won't get canceled because of your dog is to make sure your dog won't bite anyone.

Dan Hattaway of State Farm outlines ways to make sure a dog won't bite the hand that pets it: "Socialize the pet with people and other animals outside the household," he says. Training it to obey your commands — whether on your own or with the help of obedience school — will also lessen the chances your dog will strike out on its own. Keep your dog healthy; if your dog is in pain, it's more likely to lash out. Obey leash laws, even on your own property.

Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show the majority of dog-related fatalities involve unrestrained dogs, both on and off an owner's property. Spaying and neutering a dog can also improve its disposition, especially with male dogs.

Don't put your dog in situations where it will be threatened or teased. Hattaway notes 60 percent of dog-bite victims are children, who might not be aware that their behavior is threatening to dogs. "Most importantly, be alert to signs that your dog is having a problem," says Hattaway. If your dog is agitated or appears threatened, take the necessary steps to calm it down.

If there's a bite

If your dog bites someone, respond right away. Restrain or confine your dog immediately. Then do whatever you can to help the victim, whether that means calling 911 or driving them to the emergency room.

Once the victim is taken care of, you might have to contact the local authorities to report the dog bite. You should then call your homeowners insurance company, especially if there are medical costs involved. Be sure to cooperate with your insurance company. No doubt, the adjuster will want to investigate the circumstances surrounding the incident.

Take steps to make sure a similar incident doesn't happen. That might mean building a fence around your yard or sending your dog to obedience school. When all else fails, a certified animal trainer might help.

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