Dog bites or attacks result in horrific injuries, especially in vulnerable young children. Most dogs are friendly and always ready for a scratch behind the ears or a pet on the head.
Before you reach out or kneel to interact with an unfamiliar dog, take a moment to ensure the animal is not showing signs of aggression. Of course, watch for obvious signs of hostility, but stay alert for more subtle warning signs too.
Common warning signals of dog attacks
A typical dog does not want to attack anyone as their evolution has made them subservient to humans. However, when dogs feel afraid, defensive or stressed, it may become hard for them to control their aggressive instincts.
Unless you have no experience with dogs, you may know that deep growling is usually an indicator of aggression. Other common indicators include:
- Showing their fangs, often while growling
- Snapping at people, animals or objects
- Raising its back hairs
- Lunging and snarling
Back away and keep children separated from animals displaying these behaviors.
Subtle warning signs of aggression
Like people, all dogs are unique and may respond to threatening or discomforting situations in different ways, many of them quite subtle. Here are some signs of aggression or even an imminent attack that are somewhat harder to detect.
- Showing the whites of its eyes
- Adopting a stiff or rigid stance
- Raising its tail and ears very high
- Excessively licking its lips or yawning
Teach your children and grandchildren about the signs of aggression in animals to keep them safe when near unfamiliar dogs.
New Jersey has victim-friendly dog bite laws. Pet owners are strictly liable for dog bite injuries, meaning victims can obtain financial compensation without proving prior viciousness. An injury representative can guide you through this process.