With 43 million dog-owning families in the US, it’s not surprising that accidents occasionally happen. According to State Farm, they processed 3,670 insurance claims due to dog bites in 2012. While the bad news is the average incident costs $29,522, the good news is claims decreased 2.1 percent over 2011. Unfortunately, postal carriers are frequent targets. The USPS reported 5,879 dog bites on mail carriers in 2012, an increase over 2011.
Whether you’re a responsible dog owner or an enthusiastic dog lover, consider the following tips suggested by the USPS and the Insurance Information Institute—and avoid the bite.
Ask first – Never approach a dog without asking the owner’s permission first. Make sure the animal is aware of your presence before attempting to pet it.
Be aware of body language – Nervous or angry dogs are more likely to bite. Look for the signs including tense body, stiff tail, pulled back ears, rolling eyes, intense stair or baking away.
Don’t run – If you encounter a wandering dog, don’t run away from it. If you do so, it may become excited and start chasing you. Instead, stand still and remain silent. Don’t make eye contact with the animal. The dog may sniff you but should then go on its way.
Watch your kids – Teach your children how to behave around your dogs and those of strangers. Kids are more often injured on the face and head because they are close to mouth level.
Enlist a trainer – If your dog is apprehensive towards strangers, consult a trainer. There are exercises you can do to improve his socialization skills and lessen the chance of bites.
Secure your dog – If your dog gets aggressive at the front door, put him in another room before welcoming guests into your home or attempting to sign for a package. Many incidents with mail carriers happen as they deliver packages at the door of the home.
What steps do you take to avoid dog bites? Share with us in the comment section!