We love our pets.  They provide us with security and comfort.  But did you know that on average a dog bite claim costs about $37,000?

Dog bites can result in physical injury or death and also emotional trauma. And dog bites are just part of the risk! Injuries that occur if someone trips over your dog, falls while running from your dog, or from an auto accident caused by your dog running into the street could also trigger a lawsuit.

Because dogs are an attractive nuisance, they are hard to resist especially to children.  According to the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control, dog bites were the 11th leading cause of nonfatal injury to children ages 1-4 and ninth for ages 5-9 from 2003-2012.  Most of these attacks that were reported were to the head and neck.

There are ways to minimize the likelihood of an occurrence. When choosing a dog as a pet, research the temperament of the different breeds and find one that is suitable for your lifestyle. Higher energy dogs are prone to nip if they are not exercised regularly.

When they are puppies, they are like human babies and they explore their world with their mouths.  Puppies tend to in nibble and bite.  The best thing to do when they are puppies and biting is to stop what you are doing and leave them alone.  This will make them realize it is unacceptable. Wrestling with a puppy and allowing them to chew on you will encourage them to do it as adults.

Let your dog meet other dogs to socialize.  Some dogs do not like to socialize and may become aggressive if meeting a new person or dog.  Let the stranger know your dog might react in an aggressive manor to avoid a problem.

If a dog is sleeping, it is best to leave them alone or call to them to wake them.  If you touch a sleeping dog, it may shock them and they may react aggressively.

If your dog bites, do not be aggressive with them to punish them.  Try to understand why the dog is biting and remedy the behavior causing the problem. For example, sometimes as a dog ages, they start to have aches and pains that cause them to be defensive when touched. Understanding why the dog is starting to be aggressive can help you find ways to avoid a serious injury.

If children are in the presence of your dog, always supervise the situation.  Do not leave the child and dog alone even if they have done well together in the past.  Children do not understand the nature of dogs and my hit them or pull on their ears or some other behavior.  Children can be relentless and a dog might feel that biting is his only option to get out of the situation.

Since dog bites account for more than 1/3 of all homeowner liability payouts in 2014 some companies exclude animal liability on their policies.  If you have a dog, be sure to review your policy to be sure animal liability is included.  There are policies that specifically cover animal liability and can be purchased separately.