Dog bites: what behaviors are provocative?

Picture this: A dog bites you while you are on your daily run in the park. When you decide to sue the owner in order to receive compensation for your injuries, they say that you cannot hold them liable, as you provoked them by running past.

New Mexico law states that a dog owner is liable for dog bite damages unless the victim provoked the dog or the owner’s negligence put the victim at risk. What constitutes provoking a dog?

Examples of provocation in a dog bite case

Provocation, in this context, means that an individual’s actions directly caused the dog to bite. Usually, a judge will treat each situation differently and there may not be any hard and fast rules on what actions will provoke a dog, as each dog is unique. Behaviors that may provoke a dog to bite include:

  • Invading a dog’s personal space
  • Shoving hands or face into dog’s face
  • Continuing to behave in a provoking manner after the dog has growled or snapped
  • Shouting at the dog
  • Petting or going near a dog after the owner has warned not to

Behavior that is not an example of provocation

As stated above, there are many ways that a person could provoke a dog. Truly it depends on the dog, as some dogs are able to withstand more provocation than others. However, there are some behaviors that most would not consider provoking. Walking or running down the same street as a dog or petting a dog are likely not considered a trigger. If a dog bites you without warning, it is likely that the owner is liable, and not you.

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