Dog Bite Safety


Why do dogs bite? Surprisingly, most bites occur in the home, by a dog known to the child. But most importantly, many bites are avoidable, through lessons reinforced in the home. Learning to read a dogs’ body language is a first step to preventing injuries.

Dogs use their own unique signals and clues to warn us that they
may bite. Helping children understand the reasons dogs may become aggressive, teaching them how to read the signals dogs give us and giving them the skills to handle potentially dangerous situations with dogs, benefits not only children’s health and safety, but the dogs’ as well. Less bites translates to less dogs relinquished to shelters and stronger bonds between people and animals.

Other situations in which a bite is likely include approaching a barking, or clearly frightened dog; trying to pet dogs who are tethered, behind a fence, or in someone’s car.

Children should never approach a strange dog. They should be instructed to always ask an adult for advice and let the adult make the decision about how to approach or investigate the situation. Even a dog who is leashed and being walked should not be approached without asking for and obtaining his guardian’s permission.

While most children are bitten by dogs they know, sometimes stray dogs may approach a child and may bite. It’s important to teach children not to run and scream, but rather to stand still and straight “like a tree,."


A dog may be about to bite if he’s leaning forward with his weight over his front legs and and he has a stiff tail, which may actually be wagging, but stiffly and quickly rather than loosely and happily.

His fur may be standing up on his neck, he may be moving with a stiff-legged, slow gait and he may be growling.

If a dog is startled unexpectedly from a hug or a kiss on the face; a dog may bite without warning.

Approaching or bothering a dog who is eating, chewing a toy,

A dog may bite because of fear, illness or pain, protectiveness, control, high prey drive or just because he’s tired of being bothered and no one is heeding his warning that enough is enough.

Other Helpful Resources:

Young Teen Video on Dog Safety

Children's Series on Dog Bite Prevention

Dog Bite Safety by the ASPCA