Behaviour & Training

Please note that these articles do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of As with all matters relating to your dog, please use your own judgement where appropriate.

Children and Dog Bites

Dogs can often become the perfect companions for children, and many adults will have fond memories of the pet dogs that complimented their lives as kids. However, it is unfortunate that the most frequently bitten people tend to be children, especially those under the age of 9. This can result in both physical and emotional damage on the youngster's part which is sad, because by understanding canine behavior and preparing for it, most bites could be avoided. All dogs are individuals, and while most dogs are fun and safe to be with, certain dogs are simply not suitable. And because it can sometimes be hard to tell these apart, it can be useful to know the signs for when a dog is about to bite, and what we can do to prevent being bitten.

It is normally clear when a dog is upset. When angry, the usual signs include a raised tail, raised hairs on the back, erect ears, stiff body and bared teeth accompanied by growling. This is in contrast to a fearful posture, where the ears will be back, the body crouched with head held low and the tail tucked in. Any dog can bite when in these two states. And if a child or indeed anyone persists with whatever is making a dog feel angry it will simply become more so and bite. On the other hand if it is being scared it may try to escape but may also bite if it cannot get away.

Dogs that have assumed a defensive or offensive posture frequently have a critical zone, around which people are normally safe unless they breach it. Unfortunately it is impossible to know the extent of this zone as all dogs are different. However, some dogs may exhibit characteristics that may give a clue as to how they may react in new situations. Timid dogs may be more prone to assume a defensive posture, and self-confident dogs may be more likely to adopt an offensive posture.

Steps to avoid getting bitten

Children and dogs can live happily together as long as long as common sense is applied, but in all cases, they should never be left alone. The presence of an adult is often deterrent enough.

Submitted by Jenny Wilks Oct 2010.