About 4.5 million Americans suffer dog bite injuries every year.
Knowing what dog bite warnings signs to be alert for can help save lives and avert serious dog bite injuries. Learning what warning signs to look for and how to avoid situations that may result in a dog attack are important parts of being a good dog owner. However, anyone that wishes to interact with a dog should have at least a basic knowledge of dog bite warning signs to be aware of.
Dog Bite Warning Signs
In nearly all cases, dogs will issue some type of warning sign before attacking. Any dog can be provoked to attack, even the most even-tempered and well-trained dogs have a breaking point. In cases where the dog attack victim feels that the dog attacked without warning, the individual often did not recognize subtle warning signs.
Subtle Warning Signs
Dog bite warning signs that are often missed include:
- Dog turns its head away from person or animal
- Dog walks away from person or animal
- Dog looks at owner with sad or annoyed expression
- Dog yawns while person or animal is approaching
- Dog starts scratching or biting itself while interacting with person or animal
- Dog licks chops while interacting with person or animal
Growling or Aggression
In many cases, even after displaying subtle warning signs, dogs will continue to be patient. The dog will often make the irritation more prominently known by growling or showing visible signs of agitation or aggression before attacking. One sign that veterinary clinics and animal shelters often look for is the whites of the eyes. If a dog feels threatened, it will often position itself so that the head is lowered and the eyes are raised, making the whites of the eyes clearly visible.
Dog bite warning signs that may be more recognizable include:
- Barking and snapping
- Rigid body
- Tail high and wagging quickly without other body movement
- Tucked tail
- Raised fur
- Head lowered with eyes raised
Reasons for Dog Attacks
Healthy and well balanced dogs will typically not attack without a reason. However, many people do not understand canine logic and will inadvertently provoke dogs. Understanding the reasons behind dog attacks can help to prevent dog bite injuries.
Dogs may attack people or other animals for the following reasons:
- Running or screaming children or animals appear as prey
- Smaller animals are thought to be prey
- The dog is defending family members
- The dog is injured or sick
- People or animals are hurting the dog
- The dog is frightened
- The dog is protecting food, puppies, or possessions
- The dog nips to “herd” in the case of some breeds
- The dog has not been trained to take food or toys from people gently
- The dog is playing rough and gets excited