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What to Do When Your Dog Bites Someone

Updated on October 8, 2016
DrMark1961 profile image

Dr Mark is a veterinarian in Brazil. He also trains dogs, mostly large breeds and dogs suffering from aggression problems.

Out of a total of about 4.5 million incidents of dogs biting per year, there are more than 350,000 that end up in US emergency rooms.

Only a small percentage of those bitten sue the dog's owner, but do you want to be one of the few who loses your dog, loses a home, or even goes to jail as a result of a dog bite?

Some dogs are trained to bite
Some dogs are trained to bite | Source

Why Do Dogs Bite?

  • Some dogs bite because they have been trained by their owners to be aggressive, and the owner may not even be aware he is teaching this behavior.
  • Some dogs bite because of previous incidents of maltreatment, like being subjected to misguided “trainers” practicing alpha rolls, being sprayed in the face with a water bottle, or maybe having been slapped with a rolled-up newspaper.
  • Some dogs bite because they feel trapped by a human's inappropriate attempt at affection.

It doesn’t matter why he does it, though, because if your dog ends up biting someone, you are in for a lot of headaches.

Some dogs only bite once
Some dogs only bite once | Source

If Your Dog Bites Someone, Here's What You Should Do:

1. Take him to a kennel or crate and lock him up, immediately. I have read numerous accounts of people who have lost their dog when the police showed up to investigate. Police might shoot the dog on sight or might haul him off to an animal shelter. But if you take your dog and lock him up in your house, it's less likely that the police will open fire. (This is not what the lawyers recommend, of course, but they are not concerned about your dog´s welfare.)

2. Talk to the person who was bitten and tell them that you will cover all their expenses. Have a first aid kit on hand and offer it to them. If they want to go to an emergency room, offer to drive. Do NOT tell them it was your dog's fault.

3. After you put the dog in the house and do what you can for the person who was bitten, call your insurance company. (Of course you should have homeowners insurance that covers your dog. If you do not, and you are sued, you could lose it all. If you own a dog that others consider vicious, you will have to pay more and will have trouble finding a carrier. The insurance company might not want to continue providing coverage after the first bite, but at least you'll be protected for that first incident.)

4. Make an appointment to see your veterinarian and tell them you need a referral to see an animal behaviorist who deals with dog aggression. Even if your dog bit because he was trapped and being abused, his actions are still not normal and need to be addressed.

5. If the police show up, just tell them the situation is being dealt with. You do not need to let them into your house without a warrant and do not need to surrender your dog. If they continue to harass you, tell them to call your lawyer. If the police become involved you will need a lawyer.

(Police and animal control officers hate this part of the article. They cannot bust into your home if they do not have a warrant. I have heard hundreds of people tell me stories about not being able to get their dogs back, and the dogs end up dead. Dog lives matter.)

6. Purchase a muzzle for your dog so that if you are ordered to buy a muzzle, you will already have one.

Q: What Is a One Bite Rule?

A: Some states have a rule that says that the dog owner will be held strictly liable for injuries caused by the animal only if the owner knew (or should have known) about the animal's dangerous or vicious propensities. In other words, if the dog bit before, then the owner is responsible.

Other Things You Need to Know

  • Some articles make claims about which breeds are more likely to bite, but these articles are full of misinformation, and articles that scare people are part of the problem. Any dog has the potential to bite, but larger breeds can do a lot more damage. A visitor might laugh off a ferocious little Chihuahua but get really upset if your Rottweiler growls at them.
  • A word of warning: some states have a “one-bite” rule and allow a dog one free bite before it is determined he is aggressive. If your dog has already bitten someone in one of those states, or if you have been stupid enough to train your dog to be aggressive, the penalties are going to be a lot harsher.
  • Even if you have the mildest, most mellow old dog that would never bite anyone, you should make sure you have a secure place to put him in the house, have an insurance policy that covers him, and make sure you know of a lawyer you can work with if a bite occurs.
  • Sometimes, bites happen to the nicest dogs. People can do the most annoying things, and sometimes it is just more than even the best dog can bear.
  • Protect your dog's life. After all, she is always there to protect yours.


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    • DrMark1961 profile image
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      Dr Mark 7 weeks ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Tien, my only advice would be to get a lawyer to represent you. It is going to end up costing you, but maybe a lot less than if you went against that guy and his lawyer alone.

    • profile image

      Tien 7 weeks ago

      Hello, my dog bit someone last year May of 2016, and they went to a lawyer and now they're asking for a compensation of $10k. When the incident happened, I offered helped and also assure them that I would pay any medical bills needed, but instead of responding to my request, they went to their lawyer. What should I do now? I am still a student and would not be able to compensate for that amount beside slowly paying for the medical bills.

    • DrMark1961 profile image
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      Dr Mark 7 weeks ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Lawyers will put anything in a letter.In fact, since they get a cut of the money from a letter and from suing, they will sue whenever they can. The safest thing is to hire a lawyer in the state where you live and have him write a letter stating that it is not your dog and you are not liable. A hassle, and an expense, I know, but this is a bad situation she has gotten you all into.

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      Mother trying to be helpful 7 weeks ago

      Last year, when my son and his family returned from oversees, my husband and I agreed to take in their dog until they were able to purchase a home. While the dog was living with us, my son and his wife would drop by and take their dog for the weekends. In April last year my daughter in-law came and got the dog for a few days while she visited her parents in Oregon. While there, my daugher in-laws older brother got too rough with the dog and it bit him in the face. Yesterday, my husband and I received a demand of compensation letter from an Oregon attorney that the brother hired. This attorney says that I am financially responsible. Is this true?

    • DrMark1961 profile image
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      Dr Mark 7 weeks ago from The Beach of Brazil

      I really, really hope things work out for you all. Boxers are sweet dogs and she is lucky to have a good home. I hope this was just a once in a lifetime event.

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      Ann 7 weeks ago

      Thanks. We are seeking out a behaviorist.... I am getting a couple referrals. I know that she was stressed out from the storms the night before and that morning, so I think that might have had something to do with it. We are going to put her in her kennel when other people are at our home and take any other suggestions from the behaviorist. Thank so much for your response. I really don't want to get rid of her - she is such a positive part of the family

    • DrMark1961 profile image
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      Dr Mark 7 weeks ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Ann, I am not sure what to tell you. Some dogs will only bite one person, some dogs will only bite a person who invades their personal space (like your boyfriend) but kids do this a lot so they are at risk. It is hard for me to tell you without a thorough exam. If you have a canine behaviorist in the area, it would be worth taking her to visit. If not, I would talk to the shelter and see if they have any other alternative homes for her.

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      Ann 7 weeks ago

      Our dog bit my boyfriend this morning when he was trying to give her a kiss. She was awake and he spoke to her prior to leaning down to give her a kiss on the top of her head, but she bit him on the mouth and it drew blood. She is a boxer and we got her from the pound about a year ago. She was a stray, so we are not sure as to her history. We are both heartbroken and are not sure what to do. We have young children at the home and now we worry what else could happen.

      He thinks we need to get rid of her and take her back to the pound to turn her over. I want to try to find an alternative but I also don't want to put my children or their friends at risk.

      Not sure what to do

    • DrMark1961 profile image
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      Dr Mark 8 weeks ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Jesse--are you referring to his vaccination certificate to prove he was vaccinated against rabies? If you do not have this, you can go to your vet, have them look it up and give you a copy.

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      Jesse 2 months ago

      My dog bit my neighbors son and i dont have his papers what should I do please let me know immediately i have 10 days or they will take his life.

    • DrMark1961 profile image
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      Dr Mark 3 months ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Grace, if you are in an area where a dog behaviorist is available get in to see one as soon as possible. There is no way anyone can help your dog without a full series of questions and an exam to watch his reactions.

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      Grace 3 months ago

      My dog cant stop biting what do i do

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      lisa gadd 7 months ago

      my dog bit my daughter but the dog didn't drew blode

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      Dogwalker 11 months ago

      Can someone help. I am a dog walker and one of my clients dogs bit a lady on a walk she had stopped to say hi and one of the dogs was sniffing her and then she started to turn away and he bit her ankle. She went to urgent care and saw that it broke the skin but I wasn't told if she received stitches or not. when we were standing on the sidewalk there wasn't any blood and from what I could see it just looked red and irritated where he bit her.

      She contacted someone because they called our business asking for the shot records and the owners info.

      This was the first time walking these dogs and the owners did not make me aware of an aggressive behavior towards people. They said that this was new to them. Im in the sate of California, can someone tell me what grounds I stand on liability wise??

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      wanda 13 months ago

      My neighbor dog was killing a puppy so me and my friend went to help the puppy.We got the puppy but it bite her we call the police they said nothing they could do privite property.She went to the emeremy room and they still said we could get in trouble for being on his property.

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      Paintmeblue 16 months ago

      Thank you for your reply. I haven't had time to fill out my profile information, but I live in the State of Hawaii. I tried looking up what happens, but I keep getting conflicting information. I most likely will have some scars on my hand, but I am not worried about it. It could have been much worse, and will take what I have over anything worse. :)

    • DrMark1961 profile image
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      Dr Mark 16 months ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Paintmeblue, I looked on your profile page to see if I could figure out where you live. There was nothing, and some areas might be different. If it happened here, and the animal control people came to my house after someone else reported it, I would just say that I do not wish to file a bite report and then nothing would happen to the dog.

      People get bit all the time and never report it (although mostly by small dogs, not by mastiffs). Kudos to you for thinking of the dog first and not thinking of filing a suit against your friend and causing the dogs death. I hope your injury was not too serious and does not leave any marks on your hand.

    • profile image

      Paintmeblue 16 months ago

      Yesterday evening I met up with a friend to say hi. She was walking her dog and we stopped in the middle of the street to chat. Her dog was acting very hyper and jumpy. Odd behavior for a mastiff. Anyway I talk a lot with my hands, and out of nowhere the dog lunged and grabbed my hand. He bit down hard, growled, swung his face once, but then let go. I have several puncture wounds and had to get stitches at the ER. I am not one to immediately point fault at the dog. I love animals and don't ever want to see them harmed. I am not reporting it, and she is taking the proper action with a trainer/behaviorist. There were a ton of witnesses though. A park full of parents and kids, who came rushing to me when they saw me crying and the blood gushing from my hand. I am afraid that one of them will report it. So here is my question. If someone else reports the incident, do I have to go along with it, or is there a way I can protect the dog since I am the one it happened to? I have not really been around dogs all that much, so I don't know the procedure if someone else calls in a complaint.

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      timmy6665 16 months ago

      Its sad to read all of these stories. I pesonally have been bitten several times and one perticuler i would like to share. I rescure dogs from the streets i had taken in a great pyranise who was obviously very badly abused well had him taken to the vet and had all his shots up to fatr had him fixed and he was very good during everything and a couple weeks passed i couldnt find him a home so i decided to take him in permenatly and he was great and a very happy dog well a couple of weeks passed and all seemed well till i was going to take him outside for a walk when out of no wear he latched on to my arm and didnt let go after a couple of seconds he relesed and got another bite in i was finnaly able to get him off of me. Unfortunately i put him down about five minutes later i didnt want to but ultamatly if he bit me he would bite anyone and thats not a chance i was willing to take l. So i ended up in the emergency room due to the bit and had to have twenty stitches in my arm the hospital called the sherifs dpt because of standard protocalls and they tried to charge me with animal cruelty because i put him down my self. Some time has passed since the bit and im still taking in rescues of all kind and of all breeds i personaly belive it was not the dogs fault he bit me he was very abused and somthing in his mind snaped and well my life has moved on

    • DrMark1961 profile image
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      Dr Mark 16 months ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Great point Susie, thanks.

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      Susie 16 months ago

      I would also have a plan in place to have your dog mysteriously "kidnapped" and taken across state lines as a last resort.

    • profile image

      Cody 18 months ago

      While I was away my dog jumped the fence and got in a fight with a dog that was being walked on a leash in the street. The person walking the dog was bit in the leg tryong to break up the fight. They went to the ER but the wound on their leg didn't require stitches. The police came to my house and took my dog. They said it had to be quarintined for 10 days because i didnt have my rabbies vaccination paperwork. It has now been over a month and they are refusing to release my dog. The sheriffs department and the citys attorney keep giving me the run around. I'm scheduled to go to court over the matter but I would like my dog back and from reading over the city ordinance they have no legal cause for keeping my dog. This is the first bite incident involving my dog.

    • profile image

      jackie 24 months ago

      My dog got out in november of 2014. Supposedly she bit someone. Animal control came the day before Thanksgiving and put her down. Court case resolved fine paid. Now 6 months later someone else claimed they were bitten by the dog. No report with Animal control. What happend now?

    • profile image

      unfortunate 2 years ago

      Hi, I am from Mass and have 3 pitbulls. They have left the property a few times but never bit anybody and people filed complaints with animal control about them being loose off the property. They got loose again all by accident and attacked a man pretty badly. They also scratched the girlfriend who was screaming and went after a lady's pocketbook knocking her to the ground all during this one episode. Two have their rabies shots but one doesnt. The man who got attacked is suing me and i have homeowners insurance but all dogs have been quarantined for two weeks and animal control will not release them until after the public hearing. Animal control says thar i should sign them over so they can be euthanized because im

      never going to win this because of the witnesses, amount ofcomplaints, and the severity of the attack. and they will be put to sleep

    • DrMark1961 profile image
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      Dr Mark 2 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Hi Lucy you did not even mention what state or country you are in, and also if your brother´s friend plans on taking your dog to court because of the injury.

      Some states have a "one-bite law" and are a lot more lenient to a dog that has never bit before. If your dog ever bites again though, the state will most likely take you to court and force you to kill the dog.

      If the friend was not hurt, a lot of dog bites go unreported. It really depends on what he does at this point.

    • profile image

      Lucy 2 years ago

      Hi my dog has always been a good girl. Very sweet and quiet. Today I was gone and my brother and his friend came home. She met the friend once or twice and was good with him. I was not home and she jumped up and nipped his face more like scratching it. I'm not sure what I should do.

    • profile image

      debby 2 years ago

      why don't you address the pain and suffering the person has that gets bit? How about the loss ot time from work? Dr. bills, your just worried about the dog? You really should address both sides!!

    • DrMark1961 profile image
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      Dr Mark 2 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Angelia, you should try to contact a local shelter and find out if they know of any lawyers in your area that will help you with the animal control. It depends on where you are, but it is never a good idea to release a dog to the police.

    • profile image

      angelia 2 years ago

      I have a blue pitt who bit ny boyfriends daughter in face he more scratched her and a little mark on her chin but police called animal control and they took my dog can i get him back i don't want my dog to be killed :(

    • DrMark1961 profile image
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      Dr Mark 2 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Donna, Texas has a one-bite law but since this is his second bite you can be sued by the mailman, whether or not you put him down. That is a really rough decision, I know. The note on the door telling you to bring him to the pound has no legal power unless it is a court order signed by a judge, and if you release him to the pound you may or may not get him back. You will be releasing the dog to the pound and will be voluntarily giving up your rights.

      No matter what you decide to do, I would hire a local attorney to protect you in the months ahead. Do not do anything, including giving up your dog, until you have talked to a local attorney.

      Good luck to both of you.

    • profile image

      Donna W 2 years ago

      Live in Tx and my dog got out the front door and bit the mailman. This is his 2nd bite. He is a good dog when we are at other locations, such as the vet. dog stores, dog park etc. Just very protective of me at our home. I have had friends come over and I put him up for a few minutes then on a dog chain I bring him out and he is fine once he knows I'm ok. I have also taken him to friends house where they have dogs and cats and he does fine. He was penned up for 10 days then I took him home. Few days later a note was on the door to bring him back to the pound until we have a hearing this next week. He is not a bad dog just a protective dog. I'm not sure what to do. What are the laws in Tx. and should I put him down. I know he was just trying to protect us. Need answer ASAP Thanks

    • DrMark1961 profile image
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      Dr Mark 3 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Hi Brenda, Texas is one of the 18 states in the US with the one bite law. So, unless you were letting your dog run off leash, he cannot be killed for biting someone. I am not sure about medical expenses for the person bit, so if you are worried about this consult a local attorney.

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      brendagrl 3 years ago

      Is Texas a one bite state?

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      Joyce cats 3 years ago

      A friend came into the basement and opened the basement door, the dog was barking on the other side and the friend came in anyway. The dog bit him on the leg. What can I do?

    • profile image

      juliana 3 years ago

      my grandma's dog molly when she get's to crazy she bites people and it really hert

    • DrMark1961 profile image
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      Dr Mark 3 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      I would contact a lawyer there in Sacramento as soon as possible, because he will need to call and send a letter to animal control and make sure you do get Rosco back.Yes, the forums are right, since sometimes they (animal control) will determine a dog is dangerous and put him down. Do this immediately!!!

    • RiF916 profile image

      RiF916 3 years ago

      today my 4 year old rottweiler "Rosco" attacked a man that just walked in my home. i heard someone open the front door and walk in and then saw my dog sprint toward him. i yelled for him to get out, and was yelling for rosco to stop as i ran after him. instead of just going back out the door he just walked in, the man squares up with my dog and punches him twice then rosco grabbed his arm i grabbed the dog and the man continued trying to punch my dog so i pushed the guy off and secured my dog. i gave the guy a towel for his wound and offered to pay his medical but he said no. animal control took rosco for a 10 day rabies observation cause i didn't not have his paperwork right that minute. he also told me that the dog was in the right, didn't charge me for impound and says they will release him in 10 days. and yes there were BEWARE OF DOG signs posted in clear view. my question is......

      am i really going to get him bac.k? i have been reading all kinds of forums that say no matter what, do not turn the dog over to animal control. im totally stressed out, that's my best friend they took. hes a very sweet, very smart dog. oh yeah, this was in sacramento california

      https://sphotos-b-lax.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-prn2/66...

    • DrMark1961 profile image
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      Dr Mark 3 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      It sounds like you did everything right--like getting out of there before the situation got worse. Is this his first bite? The laws are very strong against dogs, and you should definitely talk to a lawyer in your state; since the dog has bitten before you may have to muzzle him when taking him out in public from now on. That might be your best chance of keeping him, but of course it depends on where you live. Sorry I could not be of more help--I hope things work out for you and him!

    • DrMark1961 profile image
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      Dr Mark 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      How terrible! And probably not even a lock will do it, as if the trespasser climbs over the fence it is the dogs fault. That is like that post from the woman in California; the kids went into her yard and messed with the chickens but when the dog bit it is he who will have to be declared "dangerous".

      I put a "beware of pit bull" sign up at my gate, but if someone comes in and is bit my dog will be blamed anyway!

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      MizBejabbers 4 years ago

      Our state requires a 10-day quarantine after a dog bite, and they will allow you to take the pet in for quarantine. It is very disgusting, however, when a person is warned not to go into the pen with a dog, goes into the pen and gets bitten, and then the owner has to pay a couple of hundred dollars for the dog's quarantine. That happened to us with the last dog we owned. It didn't matter that the bitten person was trespassing. After that we put a lock on the gate.

    • DrMark1961 profile image
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      Dr Mark 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Hi Rebecca, the sad thing is, that wasn't really his fault. Kids bit on the fences and run away, he thinks they ran away because of him, and then he thinks everyone is going to attack his property, even your neighbor. Poor dog.

      Dirt Farmer, I think the insurance companies are sometimes the worse culprits. Like you mentioned, sometimes they settle just to get rid of a lawsuit, and then they jack up rates for dog owners everywhere to cover the costs. And then sometimes they will not even allow families to have dogs because of POTENTIAL bites.

      I´m glad you built that fence. If your dog bites again the insurance company will do their best to make you take it in and kill it.

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image

      Jill Spencer 4 years ago from United States

      Our dog bit the mailman recently. Because he was "protecting me and his territory," as the animal control people put it, we simple had to keep him quarantined in the house for a week while he and his shot records were investigated. However, the mailman sued us. For his emotional pain. (His injuries were ... well, perhaps nonexistent since he refused to show them to the county authorities.) Our insurance settled, but THEY have a one-bite rule. We just finished fencing in the back of the house, something I thought the pooch would hate, but he loves it, and has discovered all sorts of areas, especially in the woods, to play. You're so right: any dog will bite. I wish that provocation were factored into the equation a bit more, though, when it comes to lawsuits. But perhaps insurance co. find it less expensive to settle than to fight.

    • Rebecca Furtado profile image

      Rebecca Furtado 4 years ago from Anderson, Indiana

      We lost a chow to the pound because hit bit a neighbor, it was after the neighborhood kids had been running sticks along the fence. The dog was just riled up and the neighbor there at the wrong time. Of course I never will understand why people mess with dogs in fences.

    • DrMark1961 profile image
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      Dr Mark 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Planes, trains, and automobiles-- it is painful to be in an accident, and oh yes, they can also kill you.

    • livewirez profile image

      Romel Tarroza 4 years ago from Pearl of the Orient Sea

      One of the animal that I fear most is the dog. Aside that it is painful bitten by dogs, rabies can also kill you.

    • DrMark1961 profile image
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      Dr Mark 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Thanks, Perry; Two problems, unfortunately. Laws vary state to state, and if you don't post the sign and someone comes in, you are negligent, and if you do post the sign, you are claiming that your dog can bite. Personally I would just as soon post the sign, and maybe people will be less likely to trespass (like those neighbor kids she describes).

    • Perry the Cat profile image

      Perry the Cat 4 years ago from Mouskin, Texas

      According to Texas law, posting a Beware of Dog sign is an indication you know your dog is dangerous

    • DrMark1961 profile image
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      Dr Mark 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Did you have "beware of dog" signs posted? It is going to be very difficult for you to win, even though it was obviously not your dogs fault. Make sure you have a lawyer, go ahead and make an appointment with an animal behaviorist so that you can tell the judge that your dog is getting "therapy" for this bite incident. Also make sure you buy a muzzle for your dog before the judge orders it--even though you know the dog will never need to use it!

      Even though you do the right things, your dog is most likely going to be branded "vicious" by those jerks in California and if he bites someone again the police will come in and kill him. It really shows how unfair the rules are.

      Let me know how things turn out for your boxer. I hope for the best.

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      Destinee 4 years ago

      I have a boxer Almost 2 we live on property where 5 acres are fenced off my dog has never showed any signs of aggression and I have 2 kids 3 years and 6 months. We have some neighbors who's kids showed up with out invitation and took the lock off the gate to come over the boy 9 was playing with our chickens and the dog bit him...I live in ca our dog has now been in quarantine for 10 days and now we have to go to court for a potentially visious dog ...what are my options on how to win this???

    • DrMark1961 profile image
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      Dr Mark 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Hi Jmillis2006 I don't know if you read all the comments but I had a discussion with a hubber Perry the Cat about that type of issue. My god-daughter was bitten by our Lhasa and she still has the scar on her lip, about 10 years later. Thankfully she admitted it was her fault, so we didn't blame the dog.

      Thanks for coming by and commenting!

    • Jmillis2006 profile image

      Jmillis2006 4 years ago from North Carolina

      I was bitten by my grandfathers lab when I was about ten years old, it was completely my fault and I would not have wanted him to be put down for it, it left a nasty puncture that I still have a scar from 16 years later, but like I said my fault. Great hub.

    • DrMark1961 profile image
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      Dr Mark 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      It is more likely to get worse with your new baby on the way. If you do not have the money to take her to a behavioral consultant, you really need to consider finding another home for her, with someone aware of the behavioral problems you are having.

      Do something quickly Ian, before your new baby comes.

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      Ian 4 years ago

      I'm having a lot of issues with my 2 year old wire haired, german Shepherd, and lab mix. My wife is 9 months pregnant and my dog has been acting really crazy, especially when we're out of the house with him. Today, we went to a cafe and we're sitting outside when someone came up to enter the place and my dog freaked out and pounced on the guy trying to bite him. This has happened twice now and I don't know what to do. We don't have a lot of money at this point and would like to find ways to train at home. Also, is there a possibility this behavior will stop when our baby is born?

    • DrMark1961 profile image
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      Dr Mark 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Hi Amie was it your dog? Send me more details on my email (go to my profile page, open fan mail and you will find it) and I will try to help.

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      Amie 4 years ago

      I'm a kid and I got bit by a dog and I told my mom she did't know what to do what should I do

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      dog 4 years ago

      thanks

    • DrMark1961 profile image
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      Dr Mark 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Great comments. I agree on the second chance, but unfortuantely there are a lot of places that do not. It is not always the dogs fault, and if bite inhibition is taught properly it is sometimes not even that serious. (Look at the comments from Perry the Cat. A lot of people do not agree with you or me.)

      I like your comment on growling too. It is SO wrong to try to stop a dog doing what comes naturally! I wonder if the little Lhasa I adopted was always yelled at when he growled (he bit my god-daughter). I let my Pit Bull mix growl all she wants when she is wrestling with the kids and never worry about her.

    • Nature by Dawn profile image

      Dawn Ross 4 years ago

      Great article! I see a lot of varying opinions about dogs and biting. In general, I think everyone who has a dog should be aware that dogs could bite and take precautions accordingly. Even the mildest dog like my Lab could bite by accident when playing. I also believe dogs should be allowed to growl. Growling is their way of telling someone that they are crossing their comfort boundaries. Punishing a dog for growling is like teaching them not to warn people and they may bite without warning instead. If your dog growls, it is up to you as the owner to not punish the dog, but to help him learn that he doesn't need to be uncomfortable. If you can't teach him that, then it is your responsibility to help your dog avoid those uncomfortable situations. I also believe dogs should get a second chance and that the situation surrounding the dog bite should be considered.

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      Reality people 4 years ago

      Um excuse me? All of your info is against the law, if your dog bites someone a rabies vaccination needs to be shown and a 10 day quarantine must be done. If it is refused by the dog owner a warrant will be served to impound your dog at your expense. I am an animal control officer and it is the law in every state to handle bites in this way. It is the dog owners responsibility to keep your pets vaccinations up to date for the protection of your pet and the victim, neglect in doing so is your own fault enough said. Ant responsible pet owner should know this. We are not going to kill anyone's dog ever unless the owner signs it over to us.

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      Southernmapart 4 years ago

      Good advice. Thanks.

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      Dr Mark 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Thanks for the comment. I really appreciate your visit and note, and hope you do not need the advice!

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      GlstngRosePetals 4 years ago from Wouldn't You Like To Know

      Great hub and I hope I never have to deal with my dogs biting somebody but if it ever does happen your hub has made it helpful on what to do.

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      Dr Mark 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      I understand your point but my first thought would be to get the dog away, put it inside the house.

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      Joe Njenga 4 years ago from Nairobi Kenya

      Dr Mark,

      Your Hub is interesting and I enjoyed reading it. I think the first thing I could do if my dog bite someone is to possibly give them first aid and then call my insurance company.

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      Dr Mark 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Thanks for your comment jainismus.

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      Mahaveer Sanglikar 4 years ago from Pune, India

      I was looking for such information and here it is. Thank you for sharing.

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      Perry the Cat 4 years ago from Mouskin, Texas

      Tell me about it. We even tried to warn the rest of you folks about George Bush, but no one would listen!

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      Dr Mark 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      That is sad. Too bad the people of Texas keep electing the same kind of legislators.

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      Perry the Cat 4 years ago from Mouskin, Texas

      Agreed. It IS Texas. We do the same thing to humans.

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      Dr Mark 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      DIFH: the Belfast City Council would have killed the dog anyway. They even had offers to fly the dog to the US so that it would no longer be in their city, but they decided to kill it anyway. Even being a Nerf dog wouldn't have helped.

      Perry: If that is the case the people of Amarillo are stupid and sick for enacting such a law.

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      Perry the Cat 4 years ago from Mouskin, Texas

      Well, first off, here in Mouskin and nearby Amarillo Texas, there is a death penalty for dogs who are or resemble pit bulls. When the animal control folks pick up a pit, they put it down. They are not adopted out or returned to owners, as I understand it.

      And humans have been cutting off cats' claws for years.

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      DoItForHer 4 years ago

      I wonder if the owners of that dog considered having its teeth removed to save its life. That's what one would have to do to absolutely prevent bites from a living animal.

      Then someone would go overboard with the deaths of people from being scratched. Then dogs would have to have their toenails removed.

      Then someone would die from a from being bumped by an overly rambunctious dog. (Hey, it happens!) Dogs would then be required to be covered in federally approved Nerf.

      Then someone would choke on a lump of Nerf...

      lol: Nerf is a good name for a dog o_O

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      Dr Mark 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      There was a case there recently where a dog was killed for looking like something that they had banned. It had the POTENTIAL to be a biter. That is the next step, of course: kill any potential biter.

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      Perry the Cat 4 years ago from Mouskin, Texas

      uh, ok. Belfast Ireland?

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      Dr Mark 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      That is your choice. Good thing the kitten did not have to be quarantined by the Belfast City Council.

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      Perry the Cat 4 years ago from Mouskin, Texas

      If your god daughter was eight, she should have known better. And yes, my children were always supervised around animals and taught to keep away from strays. Last winter I was bitten by a kitten I rescued from a dog. I nearly lost my finger to infection and the kitten had to go for rabies observation. Of course I hope the kitten was adopted out, but I was not about to risk rabies or amputation in order to "be kind" to a frightened kitten.

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      Dr Mark 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      i4u, I have seen a few dogs who seem aggressive and seemed to want to hurt but I do not want to condemn all dogs for the actions of a few.

      Hey, DIFH, cool tattoo idea!

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      DoItForHer 4 years ago

      I have an armband tattoo of the canine teeth of a wolf. When most people see that, they see something tough and scary, but their perceptions don't allow them to see the tattoo as a whole.

      There is no doubt that a canine's teeth can inflict terrible damage, but those very teeth that are capable of extreme harm are also most capable of extreme gentleness.

      Have you seen a canine pick up a pup to transport it? What about dogs that have aggressively confronted fire or water to pull a person from danger with nary a scratch on the victim?

      A canine's mouth is like a hand; it can be used destructively or constructively. Like some creepy, violent people who are in little control of their emotions and physicality, some dogs are the same way. This occurs primarily from ignorance which can be changed. Ignorance is not a life sentence unless you let it be.

      Many things in life can be used for good or bad; my tattoo represents this well.

      And it looks kick-ass! lol

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      i4u 4 years ago

      Tips during such a situations always come in handy.

      Most of the time people don't agree to the talking as they first of all tend to become more aggressive and lose their entire patience. Not only they but their loved ones never take time to understand what could have happened.

      I really hope people understand that the dog isn't a beast who simply wanted to hurt them.

      Let all of ours dogs be safe with us and the people around us too.

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      Dr Mark 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      I think she was about eight at the time. Do you have kids? Are you able to monitor everything they do 24 hours a day? She was not abusing the dog, but I do think he was grumpy. He was in a new house, had lost his previous owner, and was restrained. I do not know if he had ever been restrained before.

      Just now a neighbor (I think she is 12) was roughhousing with my dog and she might have bitten by accident, although she was not. (They have been playing like that since my dog was a tiny puppy.) I would not condemn my dog to death if she bit the girl while they were both so excited.

      I really appreciate your comments but I disagree. I think that a dog deserves a second chance.

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      Perry the Cat 4 years ago from Mouskin, Texas

      @Dr. Mark. I think it is never all right for a dog to put teeth on skin. If your god-daughter was not being properly supervised around the dog, it is your fault, not hers and not the dog's. I would be interested to know how old this god daughter is and who taught her to treat dogs that way.

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      Dr Mark 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Thanks. Great to hear that she could tell the difference when necessary.

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      DoItForHer 4 years ago

      The best example I can think of is a time Waffles and I were walking in an alley behind a convenience store downtown at night. Waffy began woofing and growling. Sure enough this drunk dude was staggering up behind us. He saw that he wasn't going to get any closer to us, so he walked around.

      30 seconds later another dude of similar height, same nationality, and also with long hair, and staggering, came up to us and asked if he could pet Waffy. She wagged her tail the whole time he had walked up to us.

      Of course he could pet her!

      As Waffy happily soaked up the lovings, she periodically turned toward the previous man and gave him a woof to remind him to stay with his buddies grouped at the end of the store.

      The second guy was sober and had polio and was partially paralyzed. The first may have been only drunk, but walking up to a person unawares in an alley is not cool.

      Waffy knows this and used the minimum amount of force necessary to stop a threat, unlike people who are more likely to jump up to the maximum amount of force available no matter the context.

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      Dr Mark 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      I don't want to sound like a ranting PETA type but I do not want to condemn every dog because of a bite incident. Do you think your dog can differentiate situations where she should be aggressive and others where she should be calm (like the hospital)?

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      DoItForHer 4 years ago

      I encourage aggressiveness in my dog. Yes, that likely sounds bad to many readers, but here is my take:

      It's happened only a couple of times with people and a few times with other dogs, but we have been attacked. People and dogs have used excessive force for their own means without any instigation from us.

      Because of this, I've taught my dog to protect us, to use an appropriate amount force to stop threats against us. Montana state law also supports us in this matter.

      Interestingly, she is also certified to work at the local hospital. This is a demanding environment where people tend to act inappropriately; yet this dog who has aggressively bit others with encouragement from me, has stellar behavior with stroke victims with altered minds and people in immense emotional turmoil from pain and disruption in their lives.

      And this dog was a pound puppy that had such issues that she was going to be euthanized at 18 months. Many people would not have benefitted from this dog if she had been put down because of her past abuse.

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      Dr Mark 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      I will give you an example of a case in which you are not correct. I used to have an old Lhasa that was abandoned in one of my apartments so I rescued it and kept the dog on my porch (chained up) until it was used to hanging around my house. My god-daughter was playing with the dog, getting down in the dog´s face and teasing him (she was not being mean but she was teasing him) and I do not know if the dog tried to get away but could not, or if he just became tired of being messed with, but he bit Pamela on her lip. He had never done anything like it before; he never bit anyone after. Dogs do not have hands, cannot speak and tell someone to back off, can not shove someone away, and in this case he could not even run away. This is their only option. Do you really think he deserved to be killed?

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      Perry the Cat 4 years ago from Mouskin, Texas

      I agree that abuse engenders aggressive behavior. However, if you are in the business of protecting humans from dogs, you have to take into account that humans abuse dogs. Human abuse of animals is not an excuse to allow animals to attack humans. Animals ruined by abuse should be put to sleep in order to put them out of their misery and protect other humans from their aggressive behavior. Animals that bite humans, especially those who can carry deadly diseases or cause permanent harm or death must be kept from humanity. Don't blame the animal for this situation, blame the human. But either way it's the animal that suffers for the human's behavior.

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      Dr Mark 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      "It doesn't matter what the human does"? Do you really think a human can abuse an animal in any way and not be expected to pay the consequences? How about a twisted kid taking a stick and hitting a dog over the head over and over? How about throwing firecrackers at the dog to see how upset he can get? How about future serial killers who are learning how to kill and torture by using their family pets as practice? Do you think a family cat would not bite and defend itself?

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      Perry the Cat 4 years ago from Mouskin, Texas

      ALWAYS call animal control or a vet to have the dog observed for rabies. After ten days, if the dog shows no symptoms, he may be released back to you. NEVER take a chance when a dog bites a human. Teeth on skin is completely unacceptable.

      As a child my human mom was bitten on the face by her grandmother's dog. Her father wouldn't allow her back there until the dog was removed from the premises. He was raised on a farm and understood that animals had their place in the human world. If an animal attacked a human, the animal was the loser. Life was fragile enough without putting up with dangerous animals.

      It doesn't matter what the human does, dogs who attack should not be allowed to remain around humans.

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      Dr Mark 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      He was socialized with your husband also, since that early age? If that is the case it is going to be rough. It seems like he is "resource guarding" (you) and some poorly socialized dogs do this, but if he is well socialized it is going to be harder to deal with. Does he have much impulse control? (Wait at doors, hold a "stay" even when he wants to run off and chase a cat/rabbit/whatever, sit calmly when it is feeding time). If he does not have much impulse control that might help, but the other (and probably only really safe option) thing I can suggest is to only have your husband walk him. I imagine you do not like that idea but the possibility of losing him to the legal authorities would be much worse. Dogs with strong resource guarding instincts/predilictions do not always respond to behavioral counseling.

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      KysEyes 4 years ago

      I enjoyed your writing, I have been a dog trainer since I was 12, trained them for the blind, deaf, and a few other asked for custom training for people with real need like therapy and what not. Though my own dog has a tenancy to be aggressive around men, but only when they are around me. When my husband has him out and about my dog doesn't even pay attention to the other men about. But with me, I have seen him nearly tear through a fence because he didn't want some random man near me. We never trained him to behave this way and he is perfectly well behaved in every other way but this one. I can not afford a dog behavioral specialist. My husband believes that his aggression is brought on by his desire to protect me, especially now that I am 9 months pregnant. We have tried all sorts of things, quit with the rough play that my dog loves so much, no more tug-a-war and games of its kind, instead we try to play games that works his mind instead of anything else. He is a Boxer, Pit bull, Australia Shepard mix and he is my baby, and a huge part of my life. But having him bite someone has been one of my biggest fears, and having him taken away or even forcibly put down, this would break my heart. Are there perhaps any suggestions that you can throw my way. I am not accustomed to working with any dog with this problem, he is my first and I am stumped. He is 4 years old, and like I have stated above he is only aggressive towards men when they are around me. Its been this way even before I got pregnant. We have had him since he was barely old enough to leave his mother, and we have never allowed anything to happen to him, he has in fact lived a very lavished life since we got him. I worry for my dog and my family, but don't know how to get my dog to let go of his aggression towards men. Hes never been abused, hit, spanked or even yelled at, but yet there is this problem. Any in-site you have would be helpful. thank you

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      Dr Mark 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Thanks Janine. I was without a dog for several years after my dog was born and waited until he was a little older to buy another one. Sometimes they do not get the hugging concept and cause a lot of stress for the dogs that they just do not know how to handle. I am glad this helped.

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      Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

      Thank you for this most informative Hub. My girls are young, but we have taught them how to be around larger dogs from the time they were babies, because my in-laws have dogs. We will most likely be getting a dog when they get a bit older, because that is all they ask for and you truly have written some invaluable information here. Thanks again, voting up and sharing!!

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      DoItForHer 4 years ago

      When a child comes up to me and asks me, "Can I pet your dog?" I then say, "Good job for asking! Yes, you can pet her." For those that don't ask I say,

      "Always ask an adult before making animal friends."

      I've even said that to a couple of adults, but they found my comment condescending. But I bet you they asked next time.

      I also teach Waffy to accept being hugged. Safer that way.

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      Dr Mark 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Thanks for stopping by Paul. The kid must have been bothering the poor dog a lot. I´m glad it didn´t have to go to court.

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      Paul Richard Kuehn 4 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      This is all useful advice and it is everything you should do. Years ago I had an Afghan Hound and kept him in the backyard. One day a neighbor kid was bitten after teasing the dog at the fence. I didn't follow your advice at the time and I was sued by the parents of the boy who was bitten. Thankfully, the matter never went to court, but I did have to hire a lawyer. Voted up and sharing.

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      Dr Mark 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Quarantine is fine, the problem is when uneducated police show up and shoot the dog on the spot. I do agree that most of the bites are because of people doing something to the dog; almost all dogs will back down and try to get away if you give them even a small chance.

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      ractelbeast 4 years ago from Missouri

      Interesting perspective, although, even if you attempt to hide a dog from the authorities, most cities have laws requiring you to quarantine your dog following a dog bite. And if you take someone to the hospital after a dog bite, then the staff there are required to report it to animal control or the police. The quarantine is for rabies control purposes and has to be done even if your animal is current on its rabies shot. Most of the time we do it at a person's house (we call at a home quarantine). A person usually has the option to do the quarantine at a veterinarian's office, unless the dog is determined to be dangerous and they do get a court order to hold it at the shelter. I know because I quarantine dogs every day, and most of the time it's because someone did something stupid and just doesn't understand dogs.

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      Dr Mark 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Yes I have posted signs outside my gates but I worry about that too since if my dog bit a thief I would be the one in trouble! The licking you are describing sounds like a submissive/anxiety type behavior. It really helps if you will lean down and let her lick your face when you come in the house. Gross for some people but it really calms submissive dogs down as that is the way they greet dominants.

      Hugging is the absolute worst but people really love it. They even hate when we tell them "don´t hug my dog". If you see two dogs fighting at a dog park a dominant often puts a paw up on the other dog to show who is boss.

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      Melissa Flagg 4 years ago from Rural Central Florida

      Florida is pretty stringent on dog bites. Dog breeds are also restricted in certain areas.

      I didn't realize dogs didn't like to be hugged. Sekhmet (the biter) seems like she's always trying to crawl inside me (that sounds weird but it's the only way I can describe it). But indeed when I hug her, unless I'm rubbing her chest, she thinks I'm pinning her. So, I've learned not to do that. Quick question.. she's has a problem with CONSTANTLY trying to lick you. It's incessant. I assume it's a reaction to anxiety, but I didn't know if it was related to her aggression. She's our guard dog, so she has the run of the porch, which is always locked. But I think even if someone did break in and she bit them, I'd be in trouble lol.

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      Dr Mark 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      I don´t think my dog (the bottom photo) would bite either but today we were visiting a friend of mine and her kids were hugging my dog, a typical primate behavior that canines detest. My dog did not growl but you could see the discomfort on her face. I let her go to the backyard to escape them but what if I didn´t notice? What if i didn´t care?

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      wetnosedogs 4 years ago from Alabama

      Interesting and did not know all the stuff to go through. I don't see my dogs as biters, but one never knows if the wrong person comes along.

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      Dr Mark 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Yes Melissa it is almost impossible to have a wild animal anymore because if something does happen you can get sued and lose everything. I have a large tegu and will not let anyone else handle him for just that reason; he would probably never bite but if he did my neighbors would go straight to IBAMA (our conservation department) and demand that he be destroyed.

      Daughter of Maat, be really careful with that old girl because you live in one of the states that does not have a "one bite" law. (I remember Florida´s law but am not sure about all of the states.) Even though she has only shown dog to dog aggression you could probably be sued as owning a biter. She would definitely be put down if you did not provide her a home, since most shelters won´t even try to find a home for a dog with any issues. No telling what her history is. I have a friend with a rescued street dog and she is really sweet but is dog aggressive.

      Thank you all for commenting.

    • Melissa A Smith profile image

      Melissa A Smith 4 years ago from New York

      Great hub, I haven't considered all these things as I never suspected my dog of committing an attack on a member of the public. Being an enthusiast of exotic pets, it's really interesting that despite the high prevalence of dog bites, whenever an unusual animal bites someone, people freak out more and insist no person should own that animal, period. However all animals with teeth can bite, and it is just as big of a problem for dog owners, perhaps bigger. They are lucky in a lot of ways that they are given more chances than we are, however. It's also essential for dogs to keep up with their rabies vaccinations (exotic pets have no approved rabies vaccines and will immediately be euthanized).

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      Melissa Flagg 4 years ago from Rural Central Florida

      Just out of curiosity, how about if your dog bites your other dog? lol I have a larger breed dog that bit my much older yorkie. I think she's been abused, or at least neglected, the poor thing acts like she's starved for attention. Everyone told me to get rid of her, but I refused, because I knew in Florida, they'd put her down and I wasn't sure it was her fault. If she's attacked by another animal, she retaliates, because she does it to my cats if they swat at her, except for one. It's really quite weird, her behavior, and I'm the alpha to her, even when my hubby is home. He can't call her off, but I can. She's quite the odd puppy. Just curious as to your opinion.

      This was good info though, I know what to do if she does decide to bite a human. :D Voted up and shared!!

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      WhydThatHappen 4 years ago

      Very informative hub. I didn't know that there were steps you could take if your dog bit somebody. It's great to know I can protect my little buddy if anything were to happen. Voted up as useful and shared!

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