Dog bites can leave victims severely injured, and in some tragic cases, dead. While a lot of dog bite incidents are caused by owners not training their dogs, we have to remember that these are in fact animals who aren’t always the perfect angels we assume them to be. Even if your dog is a champion couch potato who will follow your every command just to get a treat, there’s still the chance he could snap on someone he doesn’t know if he feels threatened. When you’re out and about, it’s important to pay attention to dogs’ behavior so that you can anticipate and avoid a bite-some behavior that leads to a bite may surprise you.
We’ve always been taught that a dog who is wagging his or her tail is happy to see us or is excited. While this is still true, it’s important to pay attention to how a dog is wagging its tail. A lot of dog owners will say that just before their dog bit someone, it was wagging its tail and seemed fine. Tail-wagging can be misleading-a dog who is happy will put his whole body into it. Facial expressions will show excitement, and the dog will appear to be having a good time. Dogs who are about to bite, however, will be more rigid with their tail-wagging. Their bodies will appear stiffer, and their tails will be pointed up in the air and moving more quickly than if they were happy. If you come upon a dog whose tail is wagging at you, take note of the rest of its body movements and proceed accordingly, and with caution.
Showing Teeth and Whites of Eyes
A dog who is showing his teeth is not a calm dog-snarling and growling often accompanies showing teeth, and the action itself is fairly intuitive. Showing teeth is the dog’s way of showing you what is to come if you don’t back down or leave it alone-they’ll bite you. If a dog is licking its lips while snarling and showing teeth, back off, because they are preparing to bite you. Another sign of a dog in distress is if they are showing the whites of their eyes. This typically happens when dogs are experiencing anxiety. Dog trainers refer to a dog showing the whites of their eyes as “whale eye,” and while it doesn’t mean that a dog is preparing to bite, anxious dogs are more likely to snap than calm dogs. If you see a dog showing the whites of its eyes, it’s best to give the dog some space and let them relax and calm down a bit. Continuing interaction could stress the dog further and cause them to attack.
The reason a lot of people get bitten by dogs is because they aren’t paying attention to the animal’s body language and overall demeanor. If a dog is cowering and tucking its tail down, it’s not necessarily a sign of aggression, but a sign of fear. Dogs who are afraid can feel threatened by your attention and may snap as a way to get you to leave them alone. Don’t take a dog’s fearful body language as a sign that you should attempt to pet them to comfort them. Another sign to keep an eye out for is when a dog stiffens their entire body. Happy dogs will wiggle towards you if they want to be petted, while dogs who freeze up when you approach are uncomfortable with touch. Take note of the way a new dog reacts to you before you proceed. Reaching your hand toward a dog to pat it on the head if it doesn’t want to be touched could cause it to bite your hand. If a dog raises the fur on its back that is a sure sign that you should back off. Similar to when a cat fluffs up its tail, raised fur on a dog’s back is a sign that they are uncomfortable and that they need space.
Make sure you pay attention to the way a dog acts around you to avoid potential dog bite incidents. If you do get bitten, it’s important to seek medical attention. If an unprovoked dog attacks you, you may also need to seek legal help from a dog bite attorney who can help you get compensation for medical bills. To avoid having problems like that keep an eye on your surroundings. Unleashed dogs shouldn’t be approached, and if you’re at a dog park, be careful when interacting with dogs you don’t know.