Warning Signs and Behaviors to Know When A Dog May Attack!

Hi everyone!  Today I am going to discuss a topic that is super important to understand, with the hopes of creating more awareness and keeping you and your children safe.  Many dogs, whether they have aggressive tendencies or have never shown a single sign of aggression in their lives, may at some point feel threatened and can attack.  The behaviors and signs that a dog exhibits before an attack can be subtle and even appear friendly, leaving you or the victim shocked and unprepared.  There are simple signs to look out for to keep you and your children out of harm’s way.  I always say education and knowledge is crucial in understanding and making good decisions in life.  Teaching your children to never approach a dog that they do not know, how to approach a dog, and what to signs or behaviors to look for in a dog feeling threatened, can be some of the most important safety lessons they learn.  Dogs are amazing, wonderful companions, and great best friends for us and our children.  Learning their behaviors and establishing a respectful and safe relationship is always my goal in building the human animal bond.

Warning Signs that a Dog May Feel Threatened and Bite:

Yawning, licking lips, or avoiding your eye contact. This may be one of the first signs a dog gives when they feel uncomfortable, anxious, or unsettled. This may not lead to an attack, however if the dog is not able to find a way to remove herself from the situation, it could escalate to a bite.

Rigid body, ears pulled back, rigid jaw, furrowed brow.  When a dog is on edge, every muscle in their body becomes stiff.  When a dog displays these body postures, it means that they are very uncomfortable with something going on around them.

Wagging Tail.  While a wagging tail is often a sign of happiness, it can also be an indicator that a dog is feeling on edge. A dog uses their whole body with a happy wag of the tail. Conversely, a dog that is nervous, uncomfortable, or threated will wage its tail high, slow, and with very little movement in the rest of the body.  

Seeing the whites of the eye.  When a dog feels threatened, she will not take her eyes off the threat, maintaining intense and direct eye contact. When a dog moves her head, her eyes will stay focused on whatever it is she feels threatened by.  As her head moves and her eyes stay fixated, you will see more of the whites of her eyes.

Fur standing up. Raised fur along a dog’s back is another sign that a dog is uncomfortable or on the verge of biting.

Growling, snapping, or showing teeth.  This is the most direct and obvious way a dog warns those around her of a potential bite.  If you notice a dog is growling, snapping, or showing her teeth, if safe to do so, avoid eye contact with the dog and walk away.

Tips For Keeping Yourself And Children Safe:

  • Never approach a dog you don’t know.
  • Always ask the owner if their pet is good with children before allowing your child to pet a dog.
  • Always ask the owner if their dog is friendly before approaching.
  • Try and observe a dog’s behavior before petting and look for the signs discussed above.
  • When greeting a dog, place your hand out to let them approach you and smell your hand.  
  • Pet a dog on her body and never place your face directly in front of their face.
  • If a dog has ever shown aggression towards children, do not allow your child to be around that dog unsupervised.

I hope this article helps you and your children stay safe from dog bites by being able to notice some of the subtle signs that indicate a dog may feel threatened. Dogs are the best and most loyal amazing companions.  Nothing brings me more happiness than to see adorable dogs and children together.  Teaching your children how to treat and respect animals is one of the best lessons in life and will help them learn love, kindness, and responsibility.


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