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What to Do if Your Dog Bites Someone: 5 Steps to Follow


Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as a substitute for professional legal advice.

It’s a nightmare scenario for any dog owner when their four-legged friend bites another person, and it’s not always obvious exactly what you’re supposed to do in that situation. While it can be hard to imagine your dog biting someone, it’s always best to be prepared and learn what to do for the sake of safety. Read below for the blow-by-blow on what exactly you should do in the event that your dog bites someone.divider-dog

The 5 Steps to Follow if Your Dog Bites Someone

1. Contain Your Dog & Contact the Authorities

The very first thing to do is to physically separate your dog from the victim. Stay calm and take your dog to a confined space nearby. That could be somewhere like their crate or a bathroom. If nobody has done it already, you may call the authorities after your dog is safely confined. Make sure your dog will be comfortable and safe until you get through the next steps.

Shiba Inu resting in its crate
Image Credit: WH_Pics, Shutterstock

2. Remain at the Scene

Depending on your state or local laws, you’re legally required to stay at the scene of the incident with your dog. You’ll also likely need to exchange contact information with the victim at this stage, and it’s a good idea to call and have someone bring your dog’s vaccination records too. Law enforcement or animal control will ask for your dog’s most up-to-date rabies shot, and if you don’t have that, they may need to place your dog under quarantine.

3. Assess the Bite & Assist the Victim

After calling emergency services and reporting the bite, you should try to assess the victim’s bite and offer assistance. The most important thing to do with heavy bleeding bites is to put pressure on the wound and wash it as soon as possible to prevent infection. If possible, you can help the victim locate running water nearby before emergency services arrive. In some cases, the victim may be understandably upset, in which case you should remain calm and wait for medical professionals to arrive.

person applying first aid on someone bitten by a snake
Image Credit: Microgen, Shutterstock

4. Contact Your Insurance Company

Most dog bites, even those away from home, are typically covered under the average homeowner’s or renter’s liability insurance. Coverage amounts vary by policy, but $100,000 is fairly standard, and of course, you’ll have to check the fine print for any caveats. For instance, some renter’s or homeowner’s policies may specify that they’ll only cover dog bite incidents that occur on your rented or owned property. Contact your insurance provider for next steps.

5. What Happens After

Afterward, the victim may decide to sue you, in which case we strongly urge you to contact an attorney. In some rare cases, your dog may even be removed from your care or euthanized, but those instances are extremely rare and are usually reserved for when a dog grievously injures a person.

One of the consequences of your dog biting someone is usually paying for their medical bills, whether that’s out of pocket or via a homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy. However, some state laws are looser with liability than others. California holds dog owners to a high standard that almost never considers extenuating circumstances, while other states may interpret things differently in a legal manner.

Angry dog on a chain
Image Credit: Alexandr Ivanov, Pixabay



We hope you never need to be prepared for your dog biting someone, but hopefully this guide has been of use in describing how to handle the situation. As mentioned above, it’s a really good idea to get an attorney for more specific details on the laws in your state or area and what to expect.

Featured Image Credit: Piotr Wawzryniuk, Shutterstock

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