How can I know if a dog is going to attack?

We recently discussed the case of the man who adopted a dog and was killed by the dog only a few hours later. That horrible story of an adoption gone bad also serves as a reminder of how important it is for anyone who is around a strange dog to understand the signs of aggression in a dog.

What are some of the signs that a dog is trending toward an aggressive display?

There are several signs that a person can watch for that signal that a dog might become aggressive. The dog might snarl, show teeth, lung forward, become rigid, or make a guttural growl. All of these are signs that a dog might attack. As the dog’s aggression becomes worse or more intense, the dog might snap, nip, or bite. Biting and shaking the most violent aggressive behavior a dog might exhibit.

Why are dogs aggressive?

There are a few different reasons why a dog might become aggressive. The dog might be fearful of the unknown. It might be trying to protect someone or another dog. It might be trying to protect its territory or be acting in a defensive manner. The dog might be in pain or there might be a breeding-related reason for the aggression.

Regardless of the reason for dog aggression, the owner of the dog is responsible for the dog’s behavior. If you are injured by someone’s dog who attacked you without provocation, you might choose to seek compensation for those injuries. Understanding your rights and responsibilities can help you develop a plan of action.

Source: ASPCA, “Aggression,” accessed Nov. 24, 2015