All dogs can be aggressive, and their owners need to be aware of the dangers.
That is the message Launceston veterinarian Dr Jenny Griffith wants people, particularly parents, to understand.
"I absolutely do think dogs and children can be together in a safe situation where they can interact and play," Dr Griffith said.
"But it should always be supervised."
Following the dog attack of a seven-year-old girl in Devonport last week which left the child hospitalised, the dog destroyed and its owner traumatised, Dr Griffith said owners can and must be aware of the signs of danger.
"Any dog has the potential to bite and we need to understand that.
"One of the most common things we do in veterinary general practice is talking to our clients about ensuring that everyone is safe."
Dr Griffith said that dogs, just like humans, will go through fear and stress just like their human counterparts and just like their human counterparts they have the capacity to lash out, resulting in tragic outcomes.
Understanding that even though a dog has never bitten anyone before, if it is pushed far enough the stress can lead to that.Dr Jenny Griffith
For example, noisy and outgoing children could create a stressful environment for a dog, regardless of whether they have interacted peacefully before.
Dr Griffith said that obvious indicators of discomfort such as growling must be monitored, as well as more subtle signs such as ears being low and flat against the head, tails not wagging and wide-eyed stares.
She said children and dogs must be separated immediately if the dog starts to display such behaviour.
Dr Griffith said dog behaviour can stem from how it was socialised from a young age and recommended attend training with accredited trainers.
She also said that dog breed was not an indicator of aggression.
Dr Griffith recommended dog-owning parents read Tell Your Dog You're Pregnant by Dr Lewis Kirkham, and suggested people visit www.wearefamily.vic.gov.au for more information.
Dog owners can also visit www.animalbehaviouraustralia.com for more information.