Tennessee has a strict liability law that applies to dog bites. The owner of a dog that is not under reasonable control or that is running at large may be liable for the damages if the dog injures someone, as long as it happened in a public place or on private property where the victim had the right to be. Tennessee also has a “one bite” rule, so if the dog bites a second time, the victim may file a claim against the owner.
After a dog bites someone, owners may want to provide training for the dog to rehabilitate it. However, they should carefully weigh the risk this creates. The Association of Professional Dog Trainers has issued these recommendations for owners who are considering whether to attempt rehabilitation.
Rehabilitation is likely to succeed
Most dog bites either involve bad behavior but no teeth-to-skin contact, or contact that causes shallow scratches, nicks or slight bleeding. In a bite such as this, the dog does not bear down on the skin, and there are no punctures. Basic training with Classical Conditioning and plenty of bite-inhibition exercises are likely to be what the dog needs to overcome the behavior. Even so, the owner will be liable if the dog bites again.
Rehabilitation is dangerous but may succeed
Trainers must be cautious when working with dogs that have bitten and left one to four punctures in the victim’s skin that are at least as deep as half the length of the animal’s canine teeth. The training is not likely to be successful without the owner’s full compliance, and even then, it can be dangerous for the trainer. People around a dog like this are in danger of an attack.
Rehabilitation will not work
If the puncture wound is any deeper than half the length of the animal’s canine teeth, training is not likely to be successful. In this case, the dog will probably attack again, so the owner should confine it within the home and keep it away from all children at all times. If people visit the home, the owner should lock the dog in a room or kennel and keep the keys on his or her person at all times.
When the dog has attacked at this level more than once, most professional trainers recommend euthanasia because the animal is not safe around any human in any circumstance. The only other way to prevent further attacks is complete solitary confinement.