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Liability Issues

Make no mistake. Although dog laws vary from community to community and state to state, you ARE liable for your dog's aggressive behavior and in most cases, will be held accountable, if not by the law, then by the insurance companies.

If your dog bites someone, you can lose your dog or your homeowner's or renter's insurance, or both. If you lose your insurance, you may not be able to obtain coverage from any other company.

If you have an aggressive dog and there are children in the house consider the child endangerment laws.  

There are aggressive dogs in every breed and therefore, breed-specific or anti-breed legislation will not solve the problem. The problem is irresponsible breeders, trainers and dog owners -- who create or allow the problem to go unresolved. The important thing is to recognize the problem and do something about it for your dog's sake and for the well being of other people and animals. 

Please visit our Woof Gazette for more detailed information about laws, liabilities and insurance.

Dealing with Aggression

Options: Making the right decisions

Most aggressive behavior is treatable. If your dog is still a puppy and under one year old, of course it is a little easier. But the good news is, older dogs can usually have their aggressive behavior modified so you can control the dog. In some cases, aggressive behavior cannot be controlled, and that's when the options are limited and difficult.

If you are a responsible dog owner:

  • Realize that in order to have control of your dog in all kinds of situations and to enjoy a normal, wonderful life with your dog, proper training is essential. The earlier, the better. Early training when the dog is a puppy  between the ages of seven to ten weeks is best. However, if the dog is older, training should also be mandatory. This applies to every dog regardless of breed, size and sex.

  • Make sure your dog is in good health with no medical reasons for him to react aggressively because of pain.

  • Obtain as much information about your dog's ancestry, history and medical history as possible from the dog's veterinarian, previous owners, the breeder, the shelter - wherever your dog came from.

  • Learn to recognize the signs of aggression.

  • Determine what type of aggressive behavior you are dealing with.

  • Test your dog and test any dog you are considering bringing into your home, puppy or adult.

  • Recognize that a truly aggressive dog is not a happy dog and that living with the dangers and the liabilities is not a safe or normal way of life.

  • Know that anyone (professional or otherwise) who says that aggression is not a problem or that your dog will out grow the problem, does not understand aggression.

  • Take appropriate action early on, when your dog is still a puppy and behavior modification is easier. 

  • Seek professional help from a qualified expert who understands aggression and will not exacerbate the problem.

  • In a few cases, behavior cannot be modified and options need to be considered. 

Stop the aggressive problem and save the dog:

1. The only way you can solve this problem is to first, recognize it. Then, don't make excuses for it like "He doesn't do it all the time," or "He bites, but never breaks the skin." or "He is the sweetest dog in the world, except for the growling problem."

2. When dealing with aggression, it is always best to work with a qualified professional if there is one in your area. This should be one-on-one training in your home or in-kennel training. A kennel environment is the best and often the only way to effectively deal with certain types of aggression -- where the dog can be socialized and worked with daily. In a few cases, after evaluating the dog, a qualified professional may advise you that aggressive modification is not possible and that the dog should never be around people under any circumstances.

3. Child endangerment because of an aggressive dog is like leaving your child in a locked, closed-up car in the heat of summer. Dogs with aggressive behaviors should not be in a home with small children, regardless. If you have an infant or child in the house and your dog is exhibiting the signs of aggression, get rid of the dog -- no ifs, ands or buts. If children do not live in your home and you have an aggressive dog, understand the safety and liability issues. You need to consider the options and do something about it.

  • If you contact a no kill rescue group or shelter, you must reveal the problem. Ask if they have programs to modify aggressive behavior. If they do not and you are able to do so, you may want to pay for the dog's training so he will have a better chance of finding a good adult-only home. 

  • Some types of aggression may be modified and are OK in adult-only homes. Consider this, but the dog should be trained and controllable. Find the right home with adults who understand aggression and how to handle it.

  • Some aggressive dogs, even after training and modification, need to be kept away from people and and other animals, and they need to be confined to a safe and enclosed run with shelter in the yard. If you do not have control of the dog, the risks and liability issues are grave. This option is not suitable for everyone.

  • There are more than 5,000,000 reported dog bites a year just in the U.S. and as many or more unreported. A few aggressive dogs cannot be helped. For the sake of those unsafe dogs that are leading miserable lives, and for the safety of people and other animals, when modification and control are not possible, the only responsible choice is euthanasia. This is a painful choice and one that no dog owner should have to endure. But in these cases, your love for the dog may help you realize that this is the best and often only choice you can make.