When a child wants to go to a friend’s house, a responsible parent asks some basic questions.

For example:

  1. will a parent be home?
  2. Does the family have a pool?
  3. Is the yard fenced?
  4. Are there guns in the house and how are they secured?
  5. A parent would ask these and many more questions of a prospective in-home daycare or nanny.

Rarely does it occur to a parent to ask if the family has a dog and if so, what steps will be taken to ensure that there are no incidents?

Doggone Safe recommends that parents visit the home of the family that their child wants to visit to meet the parents and the dog.

We have created a checklist of situations to help parents judge whether it seems safe to leave their child at a home with a dog. We encourage trainers to copy this list and hand it out.

Red Light Criteria (do not leave your child to play at this house):

  • The dog is chained or tied up or there is evidence that the dog is kept tied up.
  • The dog seems uncared for; the house smells like urine or feces.
  • The dog comes to the door barking and growling and continues even after the owner answers the door.
  • The owner is rough with the dog, yelling, hitting, or grabbing it by the collar to get it to comply. 
  • The dog seems afraid of the owner or ignores the owner’s attempts to control it.
  • The dog is kept as a guard dog.
  • The dog comes to the door barking and/or growling, but stops when told to do so and seems friendly when the owner answers the door.
  • The dog insists on getting between you and the owner’s child.
  • The dog is overly excited and races about or jumps all over you and your child.
  • Your child is afraid of the dog.
  • The dog holds his tail up in the air and wags it slowly or not at all.
  • The dog wags his tail low to the ground or between his legs.
  • The dog seems fearful and hides retreats from you or barks at you.
  • There are multiple dogs.

Yellow and Green Light

  • The dog is on a loose leash, in a crate, or in a down stay when the owner answers the door.
  • The dog greets you in a calm and friendly manner with a wagging tail when the owner gives permission.
  • The dog does as the owner asks and the owner rewards this.
  • The dog owner agrees to supervise all interactions with the dog.

The owners agree that 

  • no hugs and kisses should occur
  • They will ensure nothing is taken from the dog, or approach him while he is eating, chewing something, or resting.
  • Interaction with the dog will only take place if the parent is present.
  • They will encourage and supervise the Be a Tree and stand still if the dog is too frisky, seems threatening or otherwise causes concern.
  • They will call you on behalf of the child if the child or you are worried.

Think about these. 

Yellow Light Criteria (leave your child only if the dog will be crated or locked away the entire time):

Green Light Criteria (leave your child if supervision will be adequate):