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What if my dogs bite a trespasser (or just somebody i did not invite) can somebody explain the logic behind the below question?

Denver, CO |

had some kids trying to sell something at my house the other day. our house has a design flaw and you have to enter the back yard to get to the front door. the dogs freaked out that someone was in their yard. they are Belgian malinois (Belgian shepherds). the kids (about 16-17 years old) freaked out and huddled in the corner and the dogs are trained not to bite although i see nothing wrong with the barking. i was home to tell them to get out of the yard, but now i am worried that someone else might be dumb enough to ignore the sign posted on the fence and get hurt when we are not home. I have been told that even though someone trespasses in your yard the owner can still be held accountable for biting an intruder. i am having difficulties grasping the logic behind this rule/ law.

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Attorney answers 5


Sorry, but the law is the law - take the proper precautions regarding restraining your dogs etc. & make sure you have adequate homeowners insurance. I love dogs, but in California where I am licensed we have a "no first bit' law & liability is very strict on dog owners. Check with a local attorney for the laws in your state. Good luck

This is not intended to be legal advise or as legal representation. I am a California personal injury attorney . Be aware that every state has its own statute of limitations; and statutes & case laws that govern the handling of these matters.


The problem is how you have your house and the dogs set up. if this were a normal situation and someone scaled your privacy fence and was bit, then it would be their fault an you would not be liable. however, your situation presently puts innocent solicitors and even guests in danger.

The information provided in this answer does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you are interested in his legal services, feel free to call Chris at (303) 409-7635 at his law office in the Denver Tech Center. All initial consultations are free of charge.



thank you for the input, this time nothing happened. but we are trying to be pro-active. we rent the house so changing the landscaping is out of the question to separate the yard from the front door, but if i have a no soliciting sign on the fence, would that make them wrong to enter the yard? and on the same note, could i bar anyone from coming into the yard with out our permission? on a side note we are looking at installing a wireless doorbell on the fence to alert us when somebody is there, that should help i think.

Christopher Daniel Leroi

Christopher Daniel Leroi


You are definitely to be complimented on trying to be so proactive. The wireless doorbell is a good idea. A fence or gate with no soliciting would help. I am just trying to protect you from being even sued, regardless of whether they would be successful or not. Being involved in a lawsuit is like getting a root canal and a colonoscopy at the same time, it is simply a nightmare for everyone.

Stephen Clark Harkess

Stephen Clark Harkess


The other concern is that even if a trespassing solicitor would be in the wrong, there are other people who may have a need to get to your door or yard - police officers, meter readers, etc. who would have very good claims if they got attached when they tried to get to the door.


If that is the law in your state (as it is in many others , unless they change it you must comply or suffer the consequences.


Better add some fence to protect the walkway to the front door


The logic behind the negligence law is that if you know your dog has the potential to injure someone, you need to take steps to make sure that doesn't happen. While your no trespassing sign is good, the design flaw forcing people to expose themselves to potential danger is a problem.

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