City of Hamilton City of Hamilton
Submit SearchSubmit Search
City of Hamilton - Planning & Economic Development

Holiday Dog Bite Prevention Tips

The holidays are especially stressful for dogs due to changes in routine and the comings and goings of visitors. Many dog bites happen at this time of year. For the upcoming holiday season we have some tips for kids, parents and dog owners to help keep kids and dogs safe this season.

Family gatherings can be very stressfull for dogs, especially for those dogs that live in a quiet household without much exposure to children and general commotion.

When visiting a house with a dog, children should be taught:

  • Do not approach a dog (even if the dog has been friendly on other occasions).
  • If a dog comes toward the child, the child should stand still like a tree and let the dog sniff them.

The child should only touch the dog if:

  • the parent and dog owner are supervising and have given permission; and
  • the dog is wagging and panting and coming to them for attention.

Dog owners should:

  • gauge their dog's reaction to visitors. If the dog is overly excited, barking or growling, cowering away, trying to hide or otherwise showing signs of anxiety or aggression, the dog should be kept separate from guests for the ENTIRE DURATION of the visit.
  • ensure the dog has its own place in a crate or another room with toys, a bone to chew on and its special bed or blanket so that it can be happy and comfortable and away from guests.
  • never leave a dog alone in the room with visiting children, even dogs that seem happy with visitors.
  • not allow preschoolers, toddlers or infants near their dog unless you personally have your hands on the dog to prevent face to face contact between child and dog and can prevent the child from hugging or otherwise bothering the dog.
  • prevent dogs from greeting visitors at their door. This is for the safety of the dog and the visitors.
  • keep dogs in a separate room or crate until the visitors are settled and then allow the dog to say hello if appropriate.
  • leave a dog confined or on a leash until the owner is comfortable with the dogs response/behaviour.
  • ensure that the dog associates visitors with something good by giving the dog something it enjoys, such as special treats or a stuffed bone when visitors come calling.
  • recognize that if there is a problem between a dog and visiting children, the dog should be separated from the visitors. THIS IS  NOT THE TIME TO TRAIN THE DOG. It is not reasonable to use visiting children to help train your dog. Take preventative measures to ensure that your dog never has the opportunity to bite. Once the holiday season is over, seek the help of a dog behaviour specialist to properly train the dog if appropriate.

Here is a summary of Doggone Safe's family gathering tips:
Family gatherings at a relative's house are the source of fond memories for many people. The relative's dog may not enjoy these events as much as the rest of the family. Noise, confusion and changes in routine are stressful for dogs. Even a normally calm and docile pet may become agitated enough to bite a person under the extreme circumstances of a boisterous family celebration. Supervision may be lax, particularly if each adult thinks that another adult is watching the children. Children are the most likely victims of dog bites in this situation.

  • Put the dog in his crate with a bone or favourite chew toy, at least during the most hectic times (guests arriving & leaving, dinner preparation & serving).
  • Assign one adult to be in charge of the dog, to watch for signs of stress and protect the dog from unwanted attention from children.
  • Assign one adult to supervise each baby or toddler with no other tasks being expected of them.
  • If you have multiple dogs, consider kennelling them, crating them or keeping them in another room during large gatherings.
  • Supervise dogs with children at all times.

The information found on this webpage has been reproduced with permission from

They are a non-profit organization dedicated to Dog Bite Prevention and their mandate is guided by real world events and situations that have actually happened. Their mission is to promote education initiatives for the purpose of dog bite prevention and increased child safety around dogs and to provide support for dog bite victims. Doggone Safe provides educational programs to teach about dog bite prevention for schools, parents, expectant parents and workers.


Contact Information:

Hours of Operation:
Monday - Friday: 8:30am - 4:30 pm
Saturday and Sunday: 10:am - 2pm

247 Dartnall Road Hamilton ON L8W 3V9
(located at the back of the SPCA building)
Phone: 905-574-3433

Dispatch Services:
Monday - Friday:  8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Emergencies Only:
Monday - Friday  4:30 p.m. - 8:30 a.m.
Weekends and Holidays

Fax: 905-574-8877
Licensing Fax: 905-546-4044

(Please note that this e-mail address is not monitored continuously and should not be used for matters requiring immediate attention.)

Online Services:

YouTube™ Videos:

Things You Need to Know:

Most Requested Information: