Preventing Dog Bites
Dogs are not little people in fur coats. People are not alpha wolves. Our two species have different communication signals to indicate stress and head off a confrontation before it reaches critical mass. Here are some canine body-cues that frequently signal that a dog is headed towards an aroused state where bites are possible:
LIP LICKING: "Uncomfortable. Don't push me."
AVOIDING EYE CONTACT/BLINKING: "Uncomfortable. Don't push me."
LOOKING AWAY/TURNING AWAY: "Let's pretend you're not here, because I don't want to confront you."
PREOCCUPIED SNIFFING: "Let's pretend all's well"
TAIL LOW OR TUCKED: Uneasy, tense
WHALE EYE: "Trying to pretend I don't notice that you're crazy. Watching you in case you make a move to jump me."
NON-EXERTION PANTING: indicates elevated stress levels, sometimes chronic pain
GROWL: "Uncomfortable. Are you threatening me? Don't threaten me."
FLATTENED EARS: Discomfort, shyness, intensity
WOOF: "Uncomfortable. Don't push me."
LOWERED BODY POSTURE: Appeasing, very uncomfortable with social pressure
SHARP REPEATED BARK: Heightened anxiety and fear
HARD STARE: "Back off"
AIR SNAP: "Back off"
BARED TEETH: "Back off"
RAISED HACKLES: Heightened excitement/ anxiety
STIFF, ERECT TAIL: Heightened excitement/ anxiety
CIRCLING, AVOIDING THE FRONT: Non-confrontational
Seeing any of these signs should warn you to back off from a potential bite situation. If you don't think bites are a big deal, here are some statistics:
See how fluent you are in dog signals! Count how many stress, appeasement and threat signals the dog in this video gives before delivering a bite. As the warning indicates at the beginning of the video, pushing an obviously stressed dog into defense is extremely dangerous.
The information above is provided as a public service. Shasta Dogs does not receive financial benefit in exchange for advertising any service or product on this page or linked pages.