PASADENA, Calif.- - California  has the most dog bite insurance claims  in the country totaling 1,919 in 2013 according to the Insurance Information Institute and State Farm Insurance. The Pasadena Humane Society & SPCA reminds people that most dog bites are preventable.

The key to preventing a dog bite is management of your dog’s environment and understanding signals so you can take action before matters escalate,” says Carol Ann Heinis, Behavior Supervisor at the Pasadena Humane Society. “Dogs have thresholds of tolerance, just as humans do.”

  • Early warning signals include:
  • Closed mouth
  • Stiff body
  • Wide eyes with the white of the eye visible
  • Raised hackles (the ridge of hair along the dog’s spine and base of its tail)
  • Curled lips exposing canines
  • Growling, which is the best indicator that a dog is uncomfortable

Another important way to prevent bites is by teaching children how to interact with dogs. Always ask a pet owner if it is okay to pet a dog beforehand. Most dogs do not like hugs and kisses, or being petted on the head. Instead, teach children to pet on the chest or on the sides of the chest. Never tease a dog or disturb it while sleeping, eating or guarding an item, such as a toy. If an unfamiliar dog approaches, stand still, be silent and avoid eye contact.

It is a good sign when a dog shows that is it stressed or uncomfortable. It is much better to have a dog who vocalizes its discomfort, than a dog that does not and goes right into a bite. Never punish a dog for demonstrating signs of discomfort. Enrolling a dog in an obedience class or teaching it a few commands can help strengthen the bond between the owner and dog, and, in turn, help prevent bites. For information on dog bite prevention, call the Pasadena Humane Society & SPCA’s Behavior Helpline at 626.792.7151 ext. 155. For more information on National Dog Bite Prevention Week, visit

About the Pasadena Humane Society & SPCA

The Pasadena Humane Society & SPCA is an open door, community-funded center, which provides all animals a place where they receive a safe haven, care and respect. The agency provides essential animal welfare and control services for the cities of Arcadia, Glendale, La Cañada Flintridge, Monrovia, Pasadena, San Marino, Sierra Madre and South Pasadena. For more information, visit


“ National Dog Bite Prevention Week Is May 18-24; Average Number of Dog Bite Claims Is On The Rise Nationwide,” Insurance Information Institute, May 14, 2014.