Vet reveals warning signs a dog is about to bite — and how to prevent it

Animal behaviorist Zita Polgar, from Bristol Animal Rescue Centre, shares subtle body language cues that indicate a dog is feeling stressed and may be biting – so you can avoid an attack

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Eight Signs Your Dog Might Become Aggressive

Dogs may not be able to talk like we can, but if you observe them closely, they are constantly communicating with their bodies.

Animal behaviorist Zita Polgar, at Bristol Animal Rescue Centreshares eight body language signals that show your dog is feeling stressed and uncomfortable.

Zita said: “What we perceive as friendly, playful gestures can often stem from nervousness or fear.

“By trying to interact and play with them at these points, we could actually increase their distress and eventually lead to aggression.

“If these subtle signs go unnoticed and the perceived threat persists, the dog may growl, snap, or even bite — but most dogs will respond in at least one of the ways above first.

“So it’s important that dog owners pay attention to these signs and try to make their dog as comfortable as possible to avoid it.”

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Yawn, blink, lick nose

Keep a close eye on your dog’s subtle signals


(Getty Images/EyeEm)

Like humans, dogs yawn when they are tired, but they also do so during times of stress.

A dog that is stressed will often lick their nose or lips, or simply slowly stick out part of their tongue repeatedly – sometimes licking the person or animal they want to leave alone.

All of these are clear signs that the dog is uncomfortable in a situation, so it’s important to pay attention to what could be causing this and eliminate the problem if you can.

If your dog shows these signals when a stranger tries to pet him, ask him to stop.

No eye contact

When a dog averts its eyes from you so you can see the whites of its eyes, it’s often a sign that it’s uncomfortable.

They don’t turn their heads all the way, but turning their eyes away is usually a clear signal that they want to get out of a situation.

turn away

Your pet may be trying to let you know they are stressed


(Getty Images)

When a dog looks away, and especially when it turns its whole body away, it’s trying to communicate that it needs space.

Back off and give them some physical space.

Walk away

When a dog runs away from you, it is a clear signal that he is unhappy.

Trying to block their exit can cause further stress so it’s best to let them go and make sure they have some space with other people/animals.

ears back, crawl

A dog that flattens its ears back and slinks away, keeping its body close to the ground, is not a happy dog.

Give the dog some space and try not to crowd it at this point.

Tail tucked, crouching

You should give the dog some space and not overwhelm him


(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

When a dog is nervous, they will often try to make themselves as physically unassuming as possible, so they might crouch down and tuck their tails in.

Frozen, not responding

If you notice your dog’s body has gone completely rigid, he could be paralyzed with fear and remain so until the threat passes.

If the threat is not eliminated, they can progress from this to aggressive behavior, so it’s important to notice if they’ve reached this stage and take immediate action to ensure they feel safe again quickly.

Lay down, overwhelmed

A dog lying on its back, with eyes partially closed, head turned, ears back and tail tucked in, is not a dog at rest – it is a dog in a state of fear.

It tries to avoid a physical confrontation. Do not pet the dog or try to calm it down by touching it.

Give him some space and make sure no one else approaches.

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