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How to Identify Aggressive Animal Behaviors That May Lead to Dog Bites

Colburn Law

Dogs are a popular pet in Washington state, chosen by families as loyal and loving companions. However, not all dogs are friendly animals. Aggression is a common and serious behavioral issue in dogs, contributing to dangerous attacks and violent incidents each year.

Hostile dogs can cause serious injuries and devastating fatalities. Understanding the signs of aggression in dogs can help you protect yourself and your family when you encounter a potentially dangerous animal.

What Is Aggression in Dogs?

Aggression is a term that refers to a wide range of hostile behaviors. Dogs deploy aggression in various situations, primarily to protect themselves and their loved ones. However, this behavior can also be unpredictable and sudden.

Virtually all animals display aggressive behavior if they feel threatened or in danger, including dogs. For example, if an intruder breaks into a home, some dogs are likely to attack and bite the intruder to defend the home.

Dogs may also show aggressive behavior when they want to guard possessions, protect family members, or chase and grab fast-moving objects. Fear, pain, frustration, and social interactions may also trigger aggression in these animals.

Signs of Aggressive Behavior in Dogs

Identifying aggressive behavior in dogs can be challenging, especially if you are unfamiliar with the animal. A dog that exhibits aggression usually displays one or more of the following signs, sometimes at the same time.

  • Showing its teeth
  • Growling and snarling
  • Barking that is deep and guttural
  • Standing very still and rigid
  • Lunging or charging at a person
  • Muzzle punching, or hitting a person with its nose
  • Nipping or biting at a person in warning
  • Biting hard enough to break the skin

Although many dogs can become aggressive, certain factors can increase the risk of severe injury. Larger aggressive dogs can inflict more damage than smaller dogs, for example. Dogs with a history of bites are a known risk, whereas dogs that stop being aggressive after barking and showing teeth to a person are typically safer to live with. If you have an aggressive dog, speak to a veterinarian as soon as possible to discuss behavioral training and other remedies.

What to Do If You Are Bitten by an Aggressive Dog

Encountering an aggressive dog can be scary. If you find yourself in this situation, stay calm and back away from the animal slowly. Do not make eye contact and keep your voice quiet and soothing. These behaviors may help the dog calm down and reduce the probability of an attack.

Unfortunately, some dogs are unpredictably aggressive and give no warning before attacking or biting someone. If you are bitten by an aggressive dog in Washington, it is important to take the following steps to seek help and protect yourself.

  • Get to a safe location as soon as possible.
  • Call 911 and report the incident to the police.
  • Receive first aid for any injuries that you sustained in the attack.
  • Seek emergency medical attention, even if you do not feel injured.
  • Photograph your injuries, the animal, and the scene of the attack.
  • Exchange contact information with any witnesses who saw the bite.
  • If possible, identify the animal’s owner and collect his or her contact information.

After receiving treatment, contact a Washington dog bite lawyer to discuss your case and your legal options. Your attorney can help you identify your optimal path to compensation.