Reducing Dog Bites by Preparing Pets for Post-Pandemic Life
State Farm® releases 2020 dog bite claims for National Dog Bite Prevention Week
A new report from State Farm provides insight into how the COVID-19 pandemic affected people and their pets. For some dogs, the increased stress and activity around the home resulted in anxious behavior like barking, aggressive or destructive behavior. As their owners and families begin returning to the workplace or school, experts worry the return to normal could result in a new surge of pet anxiety and behavioral challenges.
In 2020, State Farm paid nearly $157 million dollars for over 3,185 dog-related injury claims. The highest month for number of claims and amount paid for those claims was March, at the start of the COVID-19 lockdown. Experts fear another disruption—this time cause by the easing of restrictions for activities outside the home—could lead to a spike in dog bite incidents.
National Dog Bite Prevention Week® is April 11-17, 2021. The National Dog Bite Prevention Coalition - State Farm, American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), Insurance Information Institute (Triple I), American Humane, and dog behavior expert Victoria Stilwell are urging people to take steps to prevent a surge in dog bites as the weather warms, lockdowns ease, and life returns to normal.
As pet owners return to the work place or school, pets will be left home alone. Behavioral issues such as separation anxiety could result in aggressive and destructive behavior. This could be a particular problem for dogs adopted during the pandemic. Many shelters and rescues experienced an increase in pet adoptions and fostering. People were home, feeling lonely, and had time for a new dog. Unfortunately, many of these adopted or fostered dogs have gotten the impression that normal life is quarantine life. Now is the time to get your dog ready for the transition to post-pandemic life.
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Tips for successful dog interactions
Just like humans, dogs are individuals, and every dog has a unique personality. State Farm does not refuse insurance based on the breed of dog someone owns. While a dogs’ breed may dictate how they look, how a dog reacts in a situation isn’t guaranteed by breed or type. It’s important to remember that even well-trained dogs can bite if they are put into the wrong situation.
- Make sure your pet is healthy. Not all illnesses and injuries are obvious, and dogs are more likely to bite if they are sick or in pain. If you don’t have a pet medical insurance policy in place to cover illness or injury, talk to your State Farm agent or go online to learn how a Trupanion policy can help with medical expenses.
- If your dog has only been interacting with your family this past year, don’t rush out into crowded areas or dog parks. Try to expose your dogs to new situations slowly and for short periods of time, arrange for low-stress interactions, and give plenty of praise and rewards for good behavior.
- Gradually start arranging play dates with other dogs and people as allowed, and carefully increase the amounts of time and freedom together. This will help your dog get used to being with other canine companions again.
- Be responsible about approaching other people’s pets. Ask permission from the owner before approaching a dog, and look for signs that the dog wants to interact with you.
Upcoming dog bite prevention webinars - Click images to view details:
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