When you see a "Beware of Dog" sign on someone's door, you may assume that the person is just trying to deter thieves. After all, one study found that 95 percent of people who were going to rob homes were deterred if a dog was around. Even if you know your dog isn't vicious, no one else does, and thieves will look for easier targets.

While the impact of theft is important, it's also worth noting that these signs may be up to help reduce liability should the dog bite someone. Having a warning sign allows a homeowner to say that he or she did everything possible to protect others -- especially if there are also "No Trespassing" signs telling people to stay away.

State Dog Warning Laws

One thing that is important to note is that some states have laws on the books saying what protections signs will give dog owners, while others do not. For instance, in California, there is no law saying that owners are offered extra protections if they have signs. That doesn't mean they can't bring the signs up if they get to court and argue their side, but it does mean the law hasn't specifically been written indicating that they aren't liable if they have signs. They could still be found liable for the injuries by the court.

On the other side of the coin, Colorado does have laws stating that the owner of the dog isn't liable when someone else is slightly hurt, seriously hurt, or even killed. That is, if the person who was attacked was on the dog owner's property and the property was obviously marked with at least a single "Beware of Dog" or "No Trespassing" sign -- or both.

Injury Cases

Clearly, the presence of warning signs can, in states with protection laws, be incredibly important both for those who are hurt and those who own dogs. It's critical to know what the state laws are, what owners must do to reduce liability, and what legal steps can be taken after a dog attacks.