It goes without saying that dogs are liable to bite after growling, snarling or barking. However, these outwardly aggressive behaviors are not the only indications of an impending biting incident.
Dog bites can cause severe physical damage or even potentially fatal infections. When interacting with a dog, either as a pet owner or a curious passerby, it is important to be aware of the lesser-known signs that a dog is about to bite.
1. Rigid posture
A rigid or stiff body posture should tell you immediately that a dog is no longer in a happy or relaxed state. Keep in mind that tail-wagging does not always mean the dog is in a good mood – if the rest of the body is rigid, there could still be a significant bite risk.
2. Stress indicators
Pacing, freezing, yawning and lip-licking can all be lesser-known stress indicators showing that a dog is uncomfortable. If a dog feels stress or discomfort during an interaction, it is possible that it will lash out by biting.
Cowering and tail-tucking are obvious signs that a dog is afraid. In these cases, approaching closer to the animal is not the solution. Dogs might feel that they have to defend themselves if they perceive a person as a threat.
It is in everyone’s best interests to maintain heightened awareness when interacting with an unfamiliar dog, especially when children are present. Failure to recognize the more subtle signs that a dog is about to bite can result in horrific personal injuries.