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How to tell

when a Dog is

going to Bite

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Signs that a Dog is Going to Bite

Many times after a dog bites someone the dog's owner is
shocked and says something like “it came out of nowhere” or
the dog bit with no warning. The reality is that this
simply isn’t true. It just means the owner is not
recognizing the warning signs the dog gives before it bites.

For dogs, body language is everything. Dogs communicate
mainly with their ears, eyes, mouth, head, paws, tail, hair
and overall body posture. That’s how they tell us they are
happy, sad, hungry and need to go out; it’s also how they
tell us they are about to bite someone or something.

There is likely no single signal that your dog is going to
bite, but each dog does give signals and learning them is
the key to stopping a bite before it happens. Here are a few
common ones to look out for:

1. Growling and Snapping
2. Slowly Wagging Tail
3. Raised Fur
4. Rigid Body Pressure
5. Lip Licking, Yawning and Averting Gaze
6. Cowering or Tail Tucking
7. Showing the Whites of the Eyes

All of these are signs that your dog is anxious, tired,
upset, scared or under a variety of stresses. When a dog
feels one of these ways a bite, becomes more likely.
Although certain breeds are thought to have a propensity to
aggressive behavior, and breeds that were bred to protect or
fight may be more easily stressed, the reality is any dog
can bite at any time when the right situation arises. In
fact, small, harmless looking dogs bite just as often as the
larger breeds.

The reasons a dog will bite vary widely and can include: the
dog is cornered and so frightened, the dog is being
restrained, the dog feels that is defending its territory or
its owner, the dog is in pain or ill, too much rough play,
or anything else that could make the dog feel defensive or
in danger. Note: If a dog has not been socialized and
trained properly it is much more likely to be stressed in
these situations, and much more likely to bite.

If you see your dog or another dog start to exhibit any of
these signs, the best plan is to calmly and slowly walk
away. Do not make eye contact with the dog. Do not attempt
to touch the dog or take anything away from it. Simply
remove yourself from the situation and give the dog some
time to calm down before you interact with it again. It’s
also extremely important to teach your children these signs
and the behaviors that can lead to dog bites, since children
are the most likely to be bitten and also usually sustain
the worst injuries.

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