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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Idaho insurance companies paid how much on dog bite injuries in 2023? It’s in the millions

A sign reads “Beware of Dog” on a driveway gate. There were 91 insurance claims for dog bite-related injuries in Idaho in 2023.  (Idaho Statesman)
By Shaun Goodwin Idaho Statesman

Is Idaho going to the dogs? That may depend on the context and who you’re asking, but one thing is sure: $5 million went toward settling dog bite-related injuries in Idaho in 2023.

The Insurance Information Institute and State Farm released a new report this week stating that home insurers in the United States paid $1.12 billion for 19,062 dog-bite-related claims nationwide.

Fortunately, only 91 of those claims originated in Idaho. However, this still meant that home insurers in the state paid, on average, $55,291 per claim.

The report comes amid “Dog Bite Prevention Week,” a movement started by the American Veterinary Medical Association to educate people on why dogs bite and what can be done to prevent them from biting.

Dog bites in Idaho

More than 4.5 million people in the U.S. are bitten by dogs each year, according to the AVMA. Children are the most common victims, with most incidents occurring during everyday activities while interacting with a familiar dog.

“For so many of us, our dogs are family, and millions of times each day, people and dogs interact happily, without any negative consequences,” Kenton Brine, president of the NW Insurance Council, stated in a news release. “And most of the time, dog bites can be prevented through education and responsible dog ownership.”

Between a mix of good owners and good dogs, Idaho’s dog bite-related insurance claims are trending down.

In 2023, the 91 insurance claims made in Idaho was a 23% decrease from 2022, and the $5 million paid by home insurers is a 16% decrease from 2022.

How to prevent your dog from biting people

As Brine mentioned, the most common incident of a dog biting someone occurs when the person interacts with a dog the person is already familiar with.

Often, this can be because a dog is reactive — that doesn’t mean it’s aggressive or poorly trained, but it is reacting to a situation it doesn’t like.

“An aggressive dog is actively pursuing something; they’re aggressing toward things,” Devin Martin, a trainer at Positive Pets Dog Training in Boise, previously told the Idaho Statesman. “Reactive is when a situation is created, and then they react to it. So that’s the difference. For me, the reactivity is way more common than aggression.”

Martin said it’s possible to train a dog out of reactive behavior, but it’s different for every dog. One of the most common ways is to avoid rewarding dogs for reacting to negative stimuli.

“This is a common thing I see with toy breeds,” Martin previously said. “The dogs are barking and lunging, and then people pick them up and cuddle them. That’s definitely something you want to avoid doing.”

The NW Insurance Council and Insurance Information Institute also offered some tips to help prevent your dog from biting someone:

  • Socialize your dog so it becomes more comfortable around people and other animals. Take it slow, and always have your dog on a leash in public so it’s easier to control. Boise law requires dogs to always be on a leash unless an area explicitly says dogs are allowed off-leash.

  • Teach young children the basics of dog safety, such as not disturbing a dog if it is sleeping or eating.

  • Play non-aggressive games such as fetch rather than tug-of-war.

  • Always ask an owner for permission to pet a dog if it’s not yours or an unfamiliar dog.

  • Do not quickly approach an unfamiliar dog and avoid making eye contact with a dog that appears threatening.