When is the Beware of Dog sign obligatory?

What is the value of the notice posted near the house with the inscription: beware of the dog. The responsibility of the owner and who keeps the animal.

Who owns an animal – even if he is not the formal owner – is responsible for it: he must therefore make sure that this does not cause damage to third parties. Otherwise he is liable both under criminal law (for the crime of injury) and any compensation.

One often wonders what value the “Beware of the dog” sign: if it is necessary to post it near the houses where there is a dangerous animal and if, in this case, any aggression is punished less severely by law. So let’s see if the sign beware of the dog is mandatory and what consequences its presence may have under a legal aspect.

Beware of the dog sign: is it a legal obligation?

On closer inspection, there is no law that establishes the obligation to hang the beware of the dog sign. Whoever does it is because they deem it appropriate, but not necessary. “Opportune” to warn any passers-by and guests of the animal’s possible reactions. In this way, the collaboration reduces the risk of possible attacks and, at the same time, of liability on the part of the keeper.

Beware of the dog personalized sign

Given that the “beware of the dog” sign may not be present without this resulting in a liability for the relative owner, it is possible to customize any sign by “doing it at home” or on the computer. It is also possible to represent the warning in a joking and amusing way, with the consequence, however, that in this case the danger may not be perceived as serious.

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It is also possible to write the warning “beware of the dog” by hand.

Who is responsible for the dog?

As we said at the beginning, the responsibility for the dog’s conduct rests with whoever, at that moment, keeps it, whether it is the actual owner or a third party such as, for example, their partner or spouse, the dog sitter, the neighbor.

Even the son of a dog owner can answer for the attacks of the animal. However, if for criminal purposes (for the crime of injury) the liability of a boy is triggered only from the age of 14 onwards (and neither, in his place, can the parents be accused), for civil purposes, however, the compensation for the damage it always burdens the father and mother of the young person if he has not yet turned 18.

What is the value of the beware of the dog sign?

The presence of the “beware of the dog” sign does not even constitute a mitigating factor for the owner in the event of an aggression: in other words, both criminal and civil liability for damages will follow the general rules, without discounts.

But then Why do you put up a beware of the dog sign? Precisely to warn any third parties and reduce the risk of aggression.

The above was clearly highlighted by the Cassation with a sentence of 2017. It states that: «For the purposes of liability for injuries caused by an animalthe danger of this cannot be considered only in relation to wild animalsbut it can also exist for the pets which, under certain circumstances, can become dangerous. Including the canea normally tame animal, whose danger must be concretely ascertained, considering the breed it belongs to and any other relevant element.

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It follows that the owner of the dog is required to control and keep the animal, taking every precaution to avoid and prevent possible attacks on third parties, even inside the home. Nor about the the owner can be said to be exempt from properly guarding the animal for the sole fact of having affixed a sign with the words “beware of the dog”because such a kind of cartel constitutes simple notice of the presence of the dogwhich does not exhaust the owner’s obligations to prevent the animal from causing damage to people (obligations to be fulfilled by securing the dog to a leash or to one catena or by keeping it in an area of ​​the house or garden that does not allow it to approach strangers or to escape)”


[1] Cass. sent. n. 17133/2017.

Image author: depositphotos

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