Dogs provide their owners with companionship, love and loyalty. However, like any animal, they can exhibit aggressive behavior when they feel threatened, fearful or insecure.
Recognizing the warning signs of an aggressive dog helps you determine how to respond to the situation.
According to the ASPCA, up to 70% of dogs exhibit aggressive barking behaviors to protect their owners, homes and property. However, excessive barking, especially when combined with other warning signs, is the dog’s way of saying that it feels threatened.
Excessive growling and snarling
While growling and snarling can be a normal part of canine communication, excessive or unprovoked growling is a warning sign.
When a dog’s fur along its back stands up, it signifies agitation or aggression. It is the dog’s way of puffing itself up to appear larger and more intimidating, as they might do when they feel threatened.
Stiff body language
Aggressive dogs tend to have stiff body language. They stand tall with a rigid posture, raised hackles and a tense expression. If you observe these signs, it is crucial to be cautious around the dog.
Direct eye contact
When a dog locks eyes with you in a persistent and unyielding manner, it is their way of challenging you, indicating a potential threat.
Aggressive behaviors can also stem from a dog’s fear. Dogs with poor socialization or a history of abuse or neglect experience these symptoms frequently. The dog might lash out defensively when frightened, often resulting in bites. Signs of fear in a dog include cowering, flinching or attempting to move away from you. In such cases, it is essential to avoid making any sudden movements that the dog might perceive as threatening. It is best to back away and give the dog space to ensure safety for yourself and those around you.
Recognizing the signs of aggression in a dog helps you protect yourself from potentially serious injuries. Most people struggle to read a dog’s body language and misinterpret common behaviors, which can increase the risk of injuries and dog bites.