My dog bit someone! What do I do?
It's a situation none of us want to be in, but for some people, it's an unfortunate reality. Keep reading for step-by-step instructions for what to do following a bite incident.
Step 1: Damage Control
Try to remain calm; do not yell at or punish your dog
Separate your dog from the victim ASAP. If the victim is you, have someone else help separate the dog if available. Avoid grabbing collars, putting hands in the dog's face or startling the dog, if at all possible.
Make sure everyone is okay. Seek medical attention if necessary.
Step 2: Document Context
Try to do this while the incident is fresh in your mind
Document where/when the incident happened, what happened directly before/afterward, any stressful events, medical issues/medications or changes to routine leading up to the incident, who was bitten and any other details related to the incident.
Step 3: Document Injuries
Document any injuries that may have resulted from the bite
Include as much detail as possible, including contusions, lacerations & puncture wounds (or lack thereof)
Include where on the body the bite occurred and through what type of clothing, if any
Step 4: Contact a Behaviour Professional
Consult with a force-free behaviour professional as soon as possible; many will accept emergency bookings
Ensure professional has credentials and experience related to dogs with bite histories
Keep your dog at home or in very quiet, controlled environments until your trainer gives you a plan
Step 5: Review Legal Obligations
Review policies around bite reporting and quarantines in your community
Consider consulting with a legal professional
Ensure that you cover all expenses related to the injury for the victim (e.g. medical bills)
Concerned about a bite or aggressive incident with your dog? We can help.
Tess Morgan is a certified dog trainer and behaviour specialist in London, Ontario. She sees clients for issues related to aggression, reactivity, separation anxiety and fear in London and online.