Preventing dog bites

From nips or bites to actual attacks, dog bites are a serious problem both in public and in our homes.

Regardless of the size or breed, all dogs can bite if provoked, potentially causing serious injury or death.

Reduce the risks of a dog bite occurring

Dog bites against children are the most common.

According to Queensland Injury Surveillance Unit 1998-99 statistics, 47% of recorded dog bites in Brisbane during 1999 involved children less than five years old. Of these, 46% of victims were hospitalised.

There are a number of precautions you can take to reduce the chances of dog bites occurring:

  • always supervise children around dogs – rough play can sometimes get out of hand
  • never leave babies or young children alone with a dog
  • keep children away from your dog when it is sleeping, feeding (especially when it has a bone) or if it is recovering from an illness or injury
  • teach children to:
    • always respect dogs (both known and strange dogs)
    • never put their face against a dog’s face
    • never approach a strange dog without the owner’s permission 
    • stand still if a strange dog approaches them and not squeal or jump
    • avoid eye contact with a strange dog.

Constantly monitor your dog for danger signs when children are around.  

Be aware of danger signs

A child could be bitten if your dog:

  • appears ill at ease when the child is close or attempts to interact with it
  • backs away from the child
  • remains still but looks at the child from the corner of its eye
  • raises the hair on its back
  • stands over the child 
  • lays its ears back and holds its tail between its legs
  • approaches the child with its tail erect
  • curls its lip and/or growls.

Tips to socialise your dog

When getting a dog, choose a breed that is suitable to your lifestyle and home.

It is important to socialise your dog as a young puppy so it feels at ease around people and other animals

Other tips to control your dog include:

  • train your dog to understand basic commands by all family members such as ‘sit’, ‘stay’, ‘no’, ‘come’
  • keep your dog healthy – ensure that your dog’s vaccinations are up-to-date and they have a healthy and balanced diet, receiving plenty of exercise
  • desex your dog if it isn't intended for breeding
  • ensure your dog is registered
  • keep your dog on a leash at all times in public (apart from in designated Council off-leash areas)
  • ensure your dog is always under control when in a Council off-leash area.
Last updated: 3 May 2019