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Dog Body Language: Warning Signs of a Bite or Attack

By Texas Personal Injury Lawyer on April 15, 2024

A dog snarling

Understanding dog body language is not just about building better relationships with our pets – it’s also crucial in preventing potential attacks. By recognizing the warning signs, such as growling, baring teeth, or a stiff body posture, you can take steps to avoid a dangerous situation.

It’s important to give a dog plenty of space and avoid direct eye contact if it’s showing these signs, as the latter can be perceived as a challenge. Educating children on how to interact with dogs, such as not approaching them while they’re eating or sleeping, can also reduce the risk of biting.

Food and toys are among the most common triggers for protective behavior in dogs. Dogs may guard their resources to ensure their survival, a behavior known as resource guarding. If a dog is eating or chewing on a toy, it’s crucial to give them space and avoid attempts to touch or take away these items.

A Dog’s Body Language Tells You How It’s Feeling

Recognizing the importance of postures and stances is the first step in understanding a dog’s body language, and this can help prevent misunderstandings that could lead to bites and attacks. A relaxed dog typically has a neutral posture, with weight evenly distributed on all four legs and no stiff or slack body. A playful bow invites interaction and signals a friendly intent.

A dog that appears stiff, with its weight shifted forward, may be preparing to act aggressively. This posture is often a precursor to a dog feeling the need to defend itself or assert dominance.

Cowering is a submissive gesture dogs display when they feel threatened or scared. A dog pressing its body close to the ground with a hunched back is trying to appear small and non-threatening. This behavior suggests that the dog is anxious and seeking to avoid conflict. It’s important not to approach a cowering dog suddenly as they may feel trapped and could react defensively.

The position of a dog’s tail can offer important clues about its emotional state. A tail held high often indicates confidence or alertness, and when it’s wagging, the dog could be expressing happiness or excitement. In contrast, a tail tucked between the legs suggests fear, submission, or anxiety; a slow wag is generally less friendly than a fast wag.

Ears held erect and leaning slightly forward suggest a dog is engaging with their environment – curious and attentive. If a dog’s ears are pinned back flat against the head, it could be a sign of fear, submission, or an intent to appease. Ears that are stiff and pointing straight up can indicate alertness or aggression.

Be Wary About Growling, Snarling, or Barking Dogs

Dogs communicate a lot through their faces. Paying attention to their facial expressions can provide early warning signs and prevent misunderstandings.

Growling, snarling, or snapping are overt indications that a dog is uncomfortable and may be close to biting. When a dog snarls or bares its teeth, it’s often a clear signal of discomfort or a warning that it may bite. Additional signs to watch out for are when dogs freeze in place or show the whites of their eyes, which is known as whale eye. Lip licking, yawning, and turning away may also indicate stress or anxiety in a dog.

A relaxed dog will have a soft gaze and possibly an open mouth that resembles a smile. On the other hand, a hard stare can be a sign of challenge or aggression.

Were You or a Loved One Seriously Injured by a Dog in Houston?

Texas dog owners are liable for injuries caused by their animals. At DK Law, our Houston dog bite lawyers work with people to get justice for dog bite victims. We’ll file a claim or lawsuit to help you get the money you need to cover your medical bills and other expenses — and you won’t owe us anything unless we win you a settlement.

Our founder, Mr. Khosravian, is a lifetime member of the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum and was chosen among the National Trial Lawyers Top 40 Under 40.

Call the personal injury attorneys at our firm at (281) 402-8856 to schedule a FREE consultation today. You can also contact our Houston area office online.

Posted in: Dog Bite

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