Taking on an additional care role for a pet with an unknown history while caring for your own child may require you to have eyes in the back of your head and is not generally recommended.

There are several possible reasons why a dog may bite a child:

  • The dog is senior and is not used to the noise that young children can typically make such as crying, screaming or shrieking and has no patience for the actions of a child.

  • The child has done something to provoke or frighten the dog (e.g., hugging the dog, moving into the dog's space, leaning or stepping over the dog, trying to take something from the dog).

  • The dog is protecting a possession, food or water dish or puppies.
  • The dog is protecting a resting place.
  • The dog is protecting its owner or the owner's property.

  • The dog is injured or sick.
  • The child has hurt or startled it by stepping on it, poking it or pulling its fur, tail or ears.

  • The dog has not learned bite inhibition and bites hard by accident when the child offers food or a toy to the dog.
  • The child and dog are engaging in rough play and the dog gets overly excited.

  • The dog views the child as a prey item because the child is running and/or screaming near the dog or riding a bicycle or otherwise moving past the dog.
  • The dog is of a herding breed and nips while trying to "herd" the children.