A dog may be man’s best friend, but if your furry comrade bites another dog, or a human, your BFF can turn into one big lawsuit.
But take note: a lot of what your dog does is actually covered by homeowners insurance.
This comes in real handy for homeowners because according to Consumer Reports, more than half of all dog bites occur on the dog owner’s property, and they account for one-third of all homeowners’ insurance liability claims.
So how does your insurance protect you in the unfortunate event that Fido gets a bit too frisky?
Most HO3‘s (insurance speak for “homeowners policies”) have personal liability clauses, which detail where your coverage protects you if your dog bites someone else, or damages their property. For example, say you’re out at the dog park and Fang accidentally bites his doggie BFF, your homeowners insurance covers any vet bills that may come back to you by way of that dog’s owner!
A common misconception is that home insurance protects you only when you’re inside your home. Wrong! You’re also covered when you (and your dog) are out and about – yet another reason why home insurance is important.
Bonus: insurance also has your back if you or your dog injures or causes damage to others (which we hope doesn’t happen!). So you can walk your dog without worry!
There are, however, two exceptions that are important to note:
1. If Buddy your Basset Hound has a history of biting
2. If your dog is categorized as a ‘high-risk breed’
Dogs in this category include Pit Bulls, Staffordshire Terriers, Doberman Pinschers, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, Chows, Great Danes, Presa Canarios, Akitas, Alaskan Malamutes, Siberian Huskies, and Wolf-hybrids. Side note: we here at Lemonade HQ don’t discriminate against these types of breeds intentionally, but based on national insurance data, we find we must exclude certain breeds with a propensity for biting. This is true for the following states; NY, CA, TX, RI, NV, OH, DC, MD, IA, WI, AZ, NM, OR, AR, CO, TN, IN, OK, MA, MO, WA, KY, MT, and ND.
However, GA, IL, NJ, PA, MI, VA, and CT don’t have a breed restriction—meaning you won’t be penalized simply for owning a Pit Bull or other breed. In these states, the only time liability coverage would be excluded for your dog is if they have a previous, documented history of biting.
Some tips to prevent dog bites
For dog owners:
Getting a dog can be one of the most enriching, joyous, heart-warming experiences in life, but it’s also a pretty big responsibility. Aside from getting them vaccinated, buying doggie swag, and setting up food and water for them at home, you should also make sure you have a plan to properly socialize and train your pup.
Even the easiest-going dogs may be triggered by things that take them by surprise, or by people they haven’t met before.
To socialize your dog, you can do things like:
- Take regular walks in places where your dog will come across unfamiliar sounds, smells, and people
- Visit your local dog park to make sure your dog learns how to “say hello” and play with others
- Set up playdates with other dogs and people in your home
If you’re looking for more ideas, the Animal Humane Society has some pretty good tips on socialization for both puppies and adult dogs.
In terms of everything else related to the training of your pup, there are tons of solutions. We enjoyed this article on training from The Spruce. Cesar’s Way (yes, a website by the man himself, the legend, Cesar Millan) is a also great resource for all things relating to your new BFF. Additionally, you can find a lot of local support, with training groups and even private trainers working in your area.
For dog lovers:
You see that super-cute puppy wagging its tail, practically begging to be picked up and smooched… and then she gives you a nip! Sounds familiar?
There are rules of engagement when it comes animals (even the cutest among them). Sometimes we could be invading their personal time or space without even knowing it. When that happens, you won’t always get that wagging tail and goofy, drooly grin.
So here are a few tips to make sure both you and that furry guy have only a positive interaction:
- Try not to make any sudden movements when approaching a pup to say hello
- Don’t come up from behind a dog to pet it
- Always hold out your hand first for the dog to sniff (it’s their way of shaking hands)
- Never pet an unfamiliar dog when they are sleeping, eating, or chewing on a toy
- Make sure small children are petting a dog rather than grabbing / pulling – they often don’t know their own strength!
If dogs ever seem like they’re becoming aggressive, the best strategy is to stop making eye contact, slowly back away, and alert the owner of the behavior.
Just remember, it’s probably not the dog’s intention to be “bad” – their reaction is most likely a combination of things that are just out of their control.
In any event, the best way to stay safe and keep everyone happy is to be mindful for your pup and to make sure your coverage is up-to-date!