The holidays can be a ton of fun — but they can also be really stressful, especially for family pets. When friends and family members show up at the door to visit, your cat may hide, but your dog’s instincts are probably different.
Unfortunately, all the extra excitement, noise and people in the house can make your furry friend more likely to bite (even if they’ve never bitten anybody before). Roughly 4.5 million people are bitten every year in this country, and roughly one out of five will end up needing medical care as a result.
What can you do to make everyone safer?
Naturally, you don’t want your guests to be injured — and you also don’t want your dog to be labeled a dangerous or vicious beast. It’s wise, then, to take a few precautions:
- Put your dog away if people are coming. It’s better to put your dog in another room or in their crate when people are coming unless your dog knows them well. (There’s always at least one person who believes that “all dogs” like them, and they won’t listen to you when you ask them to please let your dog approach them, first.)
- Keep your dog and small children apart. Even if your dog knows your sister and her children quite well, put your dog away if your sister visits for the holidays and you know you’re going to be too busy to watch them. Small children can’t really process the difference between a live dog and a stuffed animal, and your dog could get hurt (and, then, lash out) by a big squeeze.
- Keep your dog’s bones, blanket and toys in a “safe space.” Your dog can get possessive over their “stuff,” so don’t leave them where visitors (particularly children) are likely to touch them.
Despite your best efforts, someone may still end up getting bitten. If that happens, your homeowners’ insurance should come to your rescue, although some have been known to deny coverage for dog bites based on arbitrary notions about which breeds are dangerous. If your homeowners insurance claim is denied, find out what it takes to fight back.