What to Know If Your Dog Bites Someone


Your dog might be your best friend and your closest companion, but even the sweetest and friendliest of pets can end up in a situation where they bite someone. This does not necessarily mean that your dog is aggressive or poorly behaved; it just means they are a dog. Dogs use their mouth just like humans use their hands, so it is easy for your dog to accidentally bite a person. If your dog bites someone, being informed can make a huge difference to the eventual outcome.

Discover How to Help the Person Who Was Bitten

Once you get the situation under control and remove your dog from the immediate area, your priority needs to be ensuring that the person who was bitten is getting the proper medical treatment. For more severe wounds, you may need to call 911 or take the person to the emergency room. In less serious cases, you just need to wash the wound with a mild soap, apply pressure to reduce bleeding, put on an antibiotic cream and wrap a bandage around the wound. It may be a good idea to visit the doctor if the person encounters any signs of infection in the next few days. Once you get this step out of the way, it is time to manage the aftermath.

Know About Potential Consequences

It is good to know what legal issues you may face after the bite. The exact outcome of a dog bite will depend on the situation, the severity of the bite, and the personality of the person who was bitten. If the bite is reported, you may expect a visit from animal control. They might cite you and fine you, and if it is a repeat offense, there may even be a chance that your dog is put down. If the person who was bitten wants to, they may try to sue you. Whether or not you end up owing them money will depend on whether or not the court feels you were responsible. Though rare, it is possible to end up in criminal court if the attack was severe and your dog has a history of biting.

Find Out How to Reduce Legal Liability

Since there can be legal consequences, you want to avoid doing anything that might make you appear liable for the bite. It may be kind and caring to check in with the victim in a few days and see how they are recovering. However, attorneys recommend that you avoid apologizing or blaming yourself because this may be used to make you look liable for the injury. Lawyers say to determine if your state has strict liability because this might make you liable even if you were not negligent or intending harm. Try to collect information from eyewitnesses, video evidence, your dog's medical records, and photos of the bite to help you in case of any legal action.

Figure out How to Treat Your Dog Following the Incident

Dog training experts recommend that you do not punish your dog aggressively following a bite because this just conditions the dog to feel like violent behavior is normal. Instead, try to identify potential stressors that caused the bite and learn how to condition your dog to not react to these situations. Taking precautions like keeping your dog on a leash can help to show that you are a responsible owner. By knowing how to manage your dog, you can reduce the chance of future bites that could lead to more issues for your pet.


As always, training your dog beforehand to stop incidents from happening is the best idea. Obviously there are situations you can’t control, but proper preparation generally tends to reduce the chances of it happening in the first place. If it happens though, you’ll be ready, and know what to do to protect yourself and your pet.

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