Dealing with dog attacks: what you should do and how third party dog insurance can help
The number of people being taken to hospital as a result of dog bites has risen by 76% in the past decade, while 13 children have died in the same period from dog attacks.
Attacks occur due to a number of reasons including a lack of socialisation from an early age, defending territory and natural instincts.
Petplan takes a look at the things you can do if you encounter a situation involving an aggressive dog and how third party liability cover is a vital part of any dog insurance policy…
How can I ensure my dog doesn’t attack people or other dogs?
Ensure your dog is socialised from as early an age as possible through contact with other animals and people, whilst also making sure they are exposed to a wide range of events, environments and situations. The younger the puppy, the easier it will be to socialise! This is because as they get older, the more cautious they become when faced with new experiences.
Going to parks with your puppy is a great way to get them meeting other people and dogs, whilst puppy parties (opportunity to socialise with other puppies and are usually run by local veterinary practices) and obedience classes also allow them to encounter others outside their immediate circle.
The more comfortable and confident they are around other dogs and people, the less likely they will grow up to be fearful, and fearful dogs may bite.
How can I spot the tell-tale signs that dogs might be about to attack?
Understanding dog behaviour is one of your best weapons for preventing dog attacks, allowing you to stop the bad behaviour the second you notice it and prevent an escalation.
Try to learn about body and tail language in dogs so you can be aware of the behaviour that signals a dog is about to attack – a dog wagging their tail doesn’t always mean they are happy.
Other possible signals include:
- Showing of teeth
- Ears going flat to their head or pricking up
What can I do to break up a dog on dog fight?
Most importantly, try your best to stay calm and don’t put yourself in any unnecessary danger – if your dog is being attacked then both pets will be in survival mode and the chances of you getting hurt are very high.
Make loud noises by shouting or use a horn to scare the attacking dog. This also serves to draw attention to passers-by who may be able to help.
However, remember to use your own judgement and to look after your own safety – or the safety of others such as children or bystanders – as a first priority.
After the event, what action should I take?*
If your dog is threatened or injured, report it to the Police and Council Dog Warden.
Make sure to get the details of the dog owner so action can be taken against them if deemed necessary and check that they also have pet insurance and with which company.
Take a photo of the attacking dog, the owner and, if you can, any injuries your dog sustains – sometimes the injury may seem minor at the time, but can actually be quite serious.
*This advice references the current British Law, the Dangerous Dogs Act (DDA), is different in Scotland
Does my Petplan policy cover me if my dog is attacked?
If your dog is injured in an attack by another dog then your Petplan dog insurance policy will cover you.
Simply claim for the veterinary fees as per normal. Petplan may take action against the owner of the other dog on your behalf if we feel the other dog owner can be proved legally liable.
Up to how much does our third party cover you?
This depends on which policy you take out. Our third party cover ranges from £1 million to £3 million per incident.
Does my Petplan policy cover me if my dog causes injury to another dog?
This situation would be deemed as property damage - as the injured dog is the property of the owner. This is where our third party liability cover would come into effect.
All of Petplan’s dog policies automatically include third party liability in addition to covering vet bills, complementary treatment, boarding fees and emergency repatriation.
If you are not covered by third party liability you may find yourself responsible for any veterinary fees and compensation if you are proven legally liable.
What else does third party liability insurance cover me for?
Third party liability cover means dog owners are covered if property is damaged, or someone is injured, falls ill or is killed, as a result of an incident involving your dog.
You will also be covered for compensation and costs awarded against you by a court and the legal cost and expenses for defending a claim against you.
Examples of claims paid out by Petplan have included an incident where an over protective border-collie chased a postman from his garden. Although the dog did not cause any actual injury, in his rush to escape from the garden the postman fell over a low wall, injuring his back. Damages for personal injury, loss of earnings and the legal fees of both the third party and the client amounted to £60,000.
In another case an owner was walking his Rhodesian Ridgeback and in his excitement at seeing someone coming the other way the dog jumped up at an old lady, knocking her to the ground and causing her to break her wrist and her hip. Damages for that claim amounted to nearly £40,000.
Take a look at our dog insurance policies to find out more.
What are your top tips for training your dog to be comfortable around other dogs and people? Let us know below…