Dogs and children: living happily together

Expert advice to help keep dogs and children safe together.

Springer spaniel sitting on a sofa with child and parent

Children and dogs can have lots of fun together, but any situation can quickly change and become unsafe. Sometimes dogs and children can accidentally hurt each other. And any dog can bite if they are worried or scared and feel they have no other choice. 

We often underestimate the likelihood of our own dog biting, but 91% of bites to children happen at home with a dog they know. Why are children at risk of dog bites? And what can we do to help with dog bite prevention?

Keep reading for our three steps to help dogs and children live safely together.    

Up to 91% dog bites to children happen in the home with a dog they know.

Book our free ‘Living happily together’ masterclass

To help parents and caregivers put these steps in place, Dogs Trust is offering a free virtual masterclass.

In our masterclass you’ll learn:

  • How to read and understand your dog’s body language.
  • How children can behave safely around dogs, and the unsafe behaviours to look out for.
  • How to create routines and habits that keep dogs and children safe and happy together. 

How to keep dogs and children safe together

Here are our three simple steps to help busy parents and caregivers take action to prevent dog bites.

Stay close, step in and separate

Stay close

The best way to prevent a bite is to spot the warning signs before anything happens. Watching, listening, and staying close while children and dogs are together is crucial.

Children – what to look for
Sadly, it’s often things children do that increase the chance of a bite …


Step in

How to step in safely

Intervene when you see anything unsafe, or if a dog or child looks uncomfortable. 

Ask a child to stop if they’re doing something that could be worrying a dog and explain how it might be making the dog feel.

Paying close attention to your child’s …



How and when to separate

If anyone needs some space, or you are likely to be preoccupied or distracted, separate the children and dogs. 

Ways to separate:

  • Lure dogs away with treats or toys
  • Give children and dogs games or activities to keep them busy separately
  • Use a …

What to do if a bite or incident happens

If a bite happens

If a dog bite happens, separate the child and dog. It can be scary and upsetting but don’t punish the dog, this can make things worse for everyone involved. 

Most incidents between dogs and children don't need hospital treatment, but if anyone is …


Need help with your child's behaviour?

You can find guidance on different aspects of children's behaviour on Action for Children's 'Parent Talk' advice hub:

Want more advice?

We’ve created an action plan to help you identify the challenges you might face when looking after dogs and children, and ways to overcome them.

  • Our manual has more detail about close supervision and ways to incorporate it into your routine in a gradual and effective way. 
  • Our action plan is a useful tool that helps you define the steps to take to keep dogs and kids safe together. 
pdf 7.3 MB
Download our manual - pdf
pdf 186.3 KB
Action plan example - pdf
pdf 195 KB
Action plan template - pdf

Further learning with Dogs Trust

To learn more about children and dogs being safe together, you can book our free, online workshop for families with children aged 7-11 - ‘Be Dog Smart Online Family Workshop’. We also run face to face sessions during the school holidays!

We also offer free school workshops that focus on how to behave safely around dogs that help children understand how to the ‘pawfect’ friend to the dogs they share their lives with. 

You can also download our free eBook for younger children below: 

pdf 3.7 MB
Be Safe Be Kind e-book

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