Tips for Ohio and Kentucky dog owners: help your pet get used to people

Dog owners should carefully socialize their pets to help prevent aggressive behavior, since owners are strictly liable for dog-bite injuries in Ohio and Kentucky in most circumstances.

Dogs make for great companions, but just like humans, they can be a bit skittish around people they do not know and want to hide or avoid interactions altogether. Dog owners likely want their dogs to feel comfortable around other people and animals and not seize up when approached by other people and animals looking to make new friends. Thankfully, there are ways to help shy dogs come out of the doghouse.

Exercise patience

The first thing owners of shy dogs should do is show patience and not force their canine companions to interact with others. Making a dog socialize before she or he is ready could result in accidental bites and increase the fear factor. Taking the process one step at a time and working on the dog's terms are always best.

Do not forget positive reinforcement

Shy dogs sometimes surprise themselves and their owners by quickly warming up to certain people. When this happens, or when the dog displays other signs it might be ready for socialization, the owner should be sure to reward the dog as a way to reinforce such behaviors. Not only is the dog more likely to repeat such behaviors in the future, it might be further enticed by the idea of receiving a treat.

Help visitors and the dog to form a connection

The best way to help visitors and dogs get used to each other is to have visitors put treats in their hand and face away from the dogs, giving them their side profile, and not making eye contact with the dogs. A guest can drop the treat and let the dog eat it when it is ready. The dog might remain close to the visitor for more treats, allowing the person to slowly pet and touch the dog before making a proper introduction. Know that it might take more than a single visit for a dog to get used to someone, which is where patience comes in.

Give your dog space to be alone

It is always best to provide dogs with space where they can be alone and feel safe. This can be an entire room, a kennel or outside space, while guests remain inside. Over time, a dog can come to recognize it will not be disturbed in its own space and can seek it out on its own whenever company comes over. No matter where this space is, it is best that visitors stay out of it until the dog is ready to make friends.

Legal liability for dog bites

No matter how much training a dog has, there are no promises that accidents will not happen. Dogs may bite or scratch people for a variety of reasons, which may create legal liability in the owners for the victims' injuries, which can be significant and costly.

It is a good idea for any dog-bite victim or parent of a child who has been attacked to talk to an attorney with dog-bite claim experience about potential legal remedies for the harm. In both Ohio and Kentucky, dog owners can be strictly liable for injury or death caused by their dogs, except in certain narrow circumstances. For example, in Ohio, the owner will not be strictly liable if the victim was teasing or tormenting the animal before the bite.

With offices throughout Ohio and in Florence, Kentucky, the lawyers at Gregory S. Young Co., LPA, represent the victims of dog bites and other animal attacks in Ohio and northern Kentucky.