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How do you know if a dog might be dangerous?

Robert F. Spohrer

Dogs are often seen as the ideal pet, with their generally amicable natures and intelligence making them good companions and even effective working animals. Unfortunately, even the smallest dog could cause serious injury to a person if they become aggressive and bite.

If there’s a dog in your neighborhood that frequently makes a lot of noise or jumps up on the fence when people walk by the yard, you may worry that the dog is an aggressive animal that might eventually hurt you or one of your children.

What are some of the warning signs of a potentially dangerous dog?

Body language is a big key to a dog’s overall attitude

The vocalization capabilities of a dog are minimal. Many can only bark, growl and whimper. If you don’t know the animal personally, you may not be able to tell the difference between an aggressive bark or a greeting.

To decipher the animal’s true intentions, a look at their body language is necessary. A dog that feels angry, territorial or threatened may become rigid and stiff. It may lunge or nip at the person it finds threatening or upsetting. Growling, snarling, showing teeth and snapping at a person are all warning signs that more aggressive behavior is imminent.

Knowing the signs of an aggressive dog can help you avoid a dog bite attack in some cases and can also help you keep your children safer. Still, some dogs that seem friendly can become aggressive with few warnings, and you may need to file an insurance claim or civil lawsuit if you or a family member gets hurt. Learning about your rights if you do end up hurt by someone else’s dog can help protect you after an animal attack.