Dogs can be incredible creatures. When properly trained and socialized, they can provide helpful services as well as emotional comfort.
It is also critical to remember that dogs are animals with an abundance of self-preservation instincts. While most are too domesticated to survive in the wild, dogs are still aware of how they can keep themselves safe when they feel threatened.
These are some of the behaviors to watch for that tend to come before a bite.
Not all wags are friendly
Tail wags are commonly misinterpreted. People often see a wagging tail and assume the dog is friendly and ready to meet new friends.
There is more to a wag than just a swaying tail. Often when dogs are happy, you will see the whole body wagging with excitement. However, when a dog is completely still and wagging its tail, it could signify that the dog is nervous and waiting to see if you pose a threat.
Lack of eye contact
A secure, friendly dog will not be afraid to look at you. Dogs that are nervous and feel defensive will keep their eyes focused away, trying to communicate that it does not want to be in the current situation.
Growling and showing teeth
A dog that is growling does not want to meet someone new. Whether the dog is yours or it belongs to someone you are meeting on the street, growling is a reason to use caution.
For dog owners, it is important to allow dogs to growl. Growling is an easy way for dogs to communicate that they are uncomfortable so that you can remove the dog from the situation. When humans scold dogs for growling, they are more likely to bite without warning.
Don’t stick your hand out
Parents often teach their children to put their hand up to a dog’s face to let it sniff. It’s a behavior many people take into adulthood.
Putting your hand out to the dog is typically seen as an invasion of space. Instead, allow the dog to come to you and sniff around your feet. Pay attention to the dog’s body language to determine if you should proceed or back away.
When you meet a strange dog, it is essential to have clear communication with the person handling the dog so you and the dog can have a positive encounter.