For many people, a dog is not a pet as much as it’s a member of the family. However, it is crucial to remember that a dog is an animal with sharp teeth, claws and various hard-wired instincts. Much like any person, dogs have a personality and can feel anxious, threatened and aggressive depending on countless factors.
A dog cannot directly tell a person that it is angry, but it will display numerous clues as to how it’s feeling. People must recognize threatening body language and change their own actions to put the dog at ease.
While an owner can often read their dog’s body language instinctively, it becomes a challenge to interpret a strange animal’s emotional state. It is crucial to remember that dogs can display aggression in many ways. The two most common are fearful and dominant.
- Fearful aggression: Experts often characterize this as the animal fearing for its life and preparing to fight to protect itself. This combination of goals makes the dog unpredictable but they might display body language that helps. Ears pinned back, for example, nose wrinkled and slightly bared teeth are all signs of fearful aggression. Additionally, the dog might crouch low to the ground in a stance that could indicate a desire to pounce or run away.
- Dominant aggression: Dog handlers describe this as assertive body language. They might bare their teeth with their bodies close to the ground, leaning forward as if ready to attack. A dominant aggressive animal will often have their ears pointed forward while maintaining eye contact with the person they see as a threat.
By recognizing these signs and body language cues, an individual can reduce the likelihood of a dog bite. An animal attack can result in lacerations, severe bite wounds, deep claw marks and infections. Additionally, the individual might suffer emotional trauma for many years to come.