With the large number of households that have dogs as a pet, it’s important for families to understand the risks that come along with pet ownership. One of those is injuries due to dog bites, which can lead to a lawsuit if the dog bites a visitor in your home or can cause a lot of heartache if your beloved pet bites a family member living in the home. It’s important to note dogs of any breed can bite and cause significant harm. The good news is most dogs give off warning signs before a bite occurs. This means if you’re aware of what to watch for and can teach your children to do the same, you can significantly reduce the risk of a serious injury or even worse.
One of the first signs a dog may be getting ready to strike show the dog is feeling stressed. You are likely to notice the dog’s ears lie flat back and they may begin panting. They may also crouch close to the ground and keep their tail pointed down and still. One sign that is less evident is dilated pupils. If you do notice any of these signs, it’s best to remove yourself and anyone else from the situation, providing a safe place for your dog to unwind and return to a more relaxed state.
Fear and Anxiety
Another major reason dogs may bite is due to feelings of fear and anxiety. If your dog feels threatened, biting is their only means of defense and their instincts will kick in, which means there’s little chance of stopping the bite once it reaches that point. Therefore, it’s critical to know what to look for to identify these feelings so you can provide a source of comfort to your pet instead. Once again, the dog is likely to crouch close to the ground, keeping its tail down and its ears laid back against its head. A dog who is worried or anxious may also avoid eye contact or may even lick or paw at the air.
Some dogs are naturally dominant and will show warning signs that indicate they may be aggressive, which can lead to damaging bites. A dominant dog may curl back its lips and bare its teeth, which can also cause its snout to wrinkle. It will often stand stiffly with its hackles raised. The tail may also bristle and stand straight. However, if the dog is aggressive due to fear, they will show some slightly different symptoms. These dogs are more likely to growl as a warning sign they are about to strike, although the other signs are similar to those of a dominant dog.
Avoiding the Bite
Whenever you identify your dog may be uncomfortable and about to attack, it’s important to take the right steps to avoid an attack in the first place. Separating your dog from anyone else in the area is one of the best things you can do. Because it may be dangerous to approach the dog or interact with it, it’s typically best to remove yourself and any others from the situation instead. Once you have given your dog space and they have calmed down again, which will be evident by a change in their demeanor and the absence of the above warning signs, you can resume safely interacting with your dog.