Nothing makes a kid smile like the family dog. But a rise in the number and gravity of dog attacks in the past few years has caused a change is the tolerance level society, insurance companies, and even the law have for dog bites.

If you are considering bringing a dog into your home, there is something you should consider.

Research The Breed

The breed of dog you acquire is very important. There are numerous dog breeders and dog research organizations that can be found online now. Before you bring a dog into your home, do some research. If you have children, make sure the dog you get is a breed that historically does well with children. Secondly, some breeds are more aggressive than others by nature. They may not be well-suited for homes with elderly people who might get knocked down by playful rough-housing. Third, does your breed require more attention? You may wind up with some damaged furniture and/or other things if you can't provide the dog the attention it needs to thrive. You should consider all of these facts in deciding what type of dog fits your family.

Check Your Homeowner's Insurance Policy

Are you a renter or an owner? The typical Texas homeowner's policy does not provide liability coverage for persons renting your home. If you are a renter, you cannot count on the homeowner's policy that your landlord holds to protect you. You should discuss a separate renter's liability policy with your insurance agent. Even if you are an owner, some insurance policies exclude coverage for dog attacks. Some exclude coverage for specific breeds of dogs that are considered to be higher risk breeds. If you have any questions about whether you have the right coverage, consider asking a dog bite attorney to take a look at your policy with you.

Check Your Home

Dogs become family very quickly, but they are not people. Think about where and how your dog will be housed when you are not around. Is this an indoor or outdoor dog primarily? If he is going to spend any time outdoors, you need to be sure your fence is in a good state of repair and your gate has a lock to keep the neighbors' kids out. Think about whether your dog should be in a kennel vs just the yard--is this breed known for digging out? Also, be ready for potty training issues and how you will handle them.

Be Responsible

If you are getting the dog for a pet, have it spayed/neutered to avoid aggressive and/or behavior issues that may develop otherwise. If the dog is for breeding, consider putting a kennel in the back yard for containment at night and when you are not around.

Know the Law in Your Area

In Texas, in addition to State laws governing dog attacks, most municipalities have created their own ordinances to govern dogs. These come in the form of Leash Laws and Dangerous Dog Laws. Around major cities like Houston, there are so many small towns and communities that each have their own city codes. You have to be careful to check the municipal codes where you live to be are you are in compliance. If the city does not have its own code, usually the county codes kick in and set the rules. If you have any questions about what codes or laws apply to you, it would be wise to speak to your local animal control to determine what your obligations are.

Author's Bio: 

Paul H. Cannon is a personal injury trial lawyer with the law firm of Simmons and Fletcher, P.C. in Houston, Texas. He is Certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in Personal Injury Trial Law.