Parents and carers

Living safely together: Dogs and children


Advice for parents and carers

Help and advice on how to ensure children stay safe and have happy experiences with dogs in and around the home.

There are approximately 12 million dogs as pets in the UK. A dog is often a valued member of the family, but even the most loyal family pet 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 sadly, 91% of bites to children happen at home with a dog they know, which may come as a surprise. By making simple adjustments around the home, we can still enjoy life with our beloved pets, prevent accidents and keep our children safe at the same time.

Dogs Trust provide a wealth of family friendly information on how to ensure that our children stay safe whilst having happy experiences with their pets. They are raising awareness of children and dogs living safely together by promoting safety in the home with three easy to remember tips:

  • Stay close – watch, listen and stay close when your children are around your dog.
  • Step in – when to intervene if you see anything unsafe, or your dog looks uncomfortable.
  • Separate – if anyone needs some space, or you are likely to be busy or distracted, always make sure your children and dogs are separated.

These simple steps can be explored in more detail on the Dogs Trust YouTube channel via the following link:

How to keep dogs and children safe together | Dogs Trust (YouTube)

Where can I find out further information?

The Dogs Trust website provides further guidance on children and dogs living safely together in more detail, including advice on how to understand your dog’s body language and how to avoid children unintentionally causing a dog to become upset or distressed.

You can also download the Dogs Trust close supervision action plan to provide useful tips and advice on how to regulate interaction between your children and your dog safely.

Dogs Trust also offer various dog school options including free virtual classes and family school session, with options available for financial assistance.

Dogs Trust (external website)

Dog Training School (external website)

Dog behaviour advice


If you are worried about how your dogs behaviour might be impacting on your home life, Dogs Trust have a free advice line to chat through any concerns, such as pulling on the lead or unwanted barking.

Finding the right training and behavioural support at the right time can help prevent unwanted behaviours from becoming bigger problems.

Contact the Behaviour Support Line on 0303 003 6666, open Monday to Saturday9.30am – 5pm.

Advice for children and young people

Dogs are fun, exciting animals that love to make friends.

You might know someone who has a dog as a pet or be lucky enough to have a four legged friend of your own that lives with you and your family – either way, it is likely that the dog in your life is always happy to see you and can’t wait to play!   Just like any fun activities, there are things that you can do to make sure that you, your friends and your dog stay safe and stay happy.  Here are some ways that you can Be Dog Smart!

Dog body language

If dogs could tell us how they feel and what they want, things would be so much easier, right?

Well, dogs do communicate with us all the time, not just by the sounds they make but with their body language too.  Being able to recognise the signals that your dogs body language is telling you is a great skill to have and will help you to know when your dog is really happy – and when they might just need some space. Here are some of the clues your dog will give you when they might be feeling worried and need some time out.

Dog body language diagram

Safe ways to have fun with dogs

We want your time with dogs to be a positive, enjoyable experience for both you and your pet.  There are lots of activities that you can do to keep your dog interested and calm.  Click on the activity poster here for ideas on how to keep your dog happy whilst having plenty of fun.

Activities for children and dogs

Be dog smart

For more ways to look at how to be Dog Smart, including games and quizzes to test your dog knowledge, visit the Dogs Trust website:

Dogs Trust (external website)