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Is an owner liable for a dog bite?

No matter how friendly your dog is, they can bite.  While bigger dogs can often inflict more damage, small dogs are also capable of injuring children, adults and other animals when they bite. Injuries can vary depending on the severity of the bite.  Some bites don’t even break the skin, while others can cause serious injuries.

According to the Dog Owners’ Liability Act in Ontario, if you own a dog and he/she bites or attacks another person or domestic animal, you are automatically liable for the damages that result.

If you are a homeowner with property insurance, your insurance company will be responsible for defending and paying these claims.  Claims can lead to significantly higher insurance premiums or the cancellation of your policy.  If you bring a new dog into your home, it’s important to notify your insurance company, as some companies will not provide you with a home insurance policy if you own a certain breed of dog.


Prevention is key to avoiding a lawsuit because your dog has attacked or bit a person or another animal.  Training and proper socialization of your dog can go a long way to ensure that they will not harm anyone.  It’s also important to keep an eye on your dog when they are around guests or visitors to your property, especially children.


Outside of your home, make sure that your dog is always properly restrained.  If your dog has a history of biting, consider using a muzzle when they are off your property or when you have guests at your home.

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