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Safety Around Dogs

In the UK around 26% of people have a dog and they can be great to have around, helping child to develop, being a friend and becoming a member of the family.

Sadly, every year children visit Jersey’s Emergency Department because they have been bitten by a dog.

Children find it difficult to read the signals a dog gives about how it is feeling and they often misinterpret these clues.

Contrary to what many people believe, it is not the unfamiliar dog on the street that poses the most risk.

In fact, most children are bitten by a dog that is known to them including their own family pets.

Most bites to children occur to the upper body and face.

For tips on how to say hello to dogs and behave around them click here

When bites do occur, the dog is usually known to the child and most bites are triggered by an interaction started by the child. Often, there is also a lack of parental supervision present.

Research from the University of Lincoln has shown that young children misinterpret dogs’ expressions. This means they do not recognise an angry dog face.

Children are also more likely to lean in closely when they want to look at the dog. This combined with a child who is excited around dogs and who may approach them too quickly, talking loudly and trying to hug the animal can result in a bite.

All dogs, big or small, can bite and cause an injury. Even the friendliest dogs can become uncomfortable and react by biting.


  • Always supervise your child around dogs.
  • Teach your child how to behave around dogs to reduce their risk of being bitten.
  • Ask the owner for permission before petting a dog. Move slowly around dogs so as not to startle them.
  • Do not tease dogs – this makes them frustrated or angry.
  • Keep fingers together when feeding a dog a treat so they won’t confuse the hand and the treat.


  • DON’T pet a dog playing with a toy because the dog may become defensive.
  • DON’T try and pet a dog in its car or over the fence. Most dogs instinctively protect their property.
  • DON’T creep up on a dog that is sleeping or eating since dogs may bite when startled or frightened.