We love our dogs and think of them as being part of the family. It is easy to think of them as little humans with fur, but the truth is that doing so is bad for them—and for us. When we expect dogs to act like people, we are asking for trouble. Dogs can become aggressive when they don’t understand the complex ways that people interact.
Whether it is out of fear, dominance, or guarding possessions or food, nearly all dogs will try to warn before they bite. Our New Jersey dog bite attorney is here to help. Learning to understand their signs is one of the best ways to keep your family safe, and keep your furry friend safe too.
Dog Warning Signs
1. Growling and Snapping
These are some of the most obvious signals a dog can give. If a dog growls or snaps at you, he’s not playing, he’s asking for some space. Paying attention to dog’s growls at other things can be a very helpful warning.
2, Wagging Tail
There are many different ways a dog might wag its tail. A happy dog will wag with enthusiasm; their whole body might get into the movement. A stressed dog will be more alert and rigid, but may still have a wagging tail held high.
3. Raised Fur or Hackles
When dogs are highly stimulated, they may raise the fur on the back of the neck or along the ridge of the back. This is a sign that a dog is on high alert.
4. Rigid Posture
If a dog is suddenly very stiff or moves away from your touch, she is sending a clear message to back off.
5. Lip Licking, Yawning, Scratching, or Avoiding Eye Contact
Dogs may lick their lips in anticipation when food is presented, but if there is no food around, lip liking, yawning and avoiding eye contact are ways to express discomfort. These are called appeasement gestures: ways dogs try to communicate they are afraid or stressed.
6. Submissive Behavior
Cowering and tucking their tails between their legs are signs of a fearful dog. While not all fearful dogs bite, fear definitely increases the likelihood. Give fearful dogs space and the time to come to you on their own terms.
The best thing you can do to prevent dog bites is to learn how to interpret dog body language. If you see any of these behaviors, it is best to back off and assess the situation. Teach young children to understand these signs, even if you don’t have a dog in your own home.
If you or your child has been bitten by a dog, please call experienced dog bite attorney David Cowhey at (609) 513-0627 or contact us online for a free consultation. Mr. Cowhey welcomes clients throughout New Jersey.