According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4.5 million dog bites occur each year in the United States, with an estimated 1 in 5 bites becoming infected. With a number this high, it’s important to take every precaution to avoid becoming part of this statistic. One precaution includes understanding what causes dogs to bite. From feeling territorial to aggression caused by pain, there are many reasons a dog will lash out at their owner or a bystander. Learn more about 4 of the most common reasons for dog bites here.

 

Maternal Instinct

In the first few weeks after a female dog gives birth, she is the main source of everything her puppies need to survive – warmth, emotion, nourishment, and protection. Even if your dog is normally outgoing and friendly, this new role in her life can cause maternal aggression if she feels her newborns are at risk. To reduce the risk of a dog bite or attack, be aware of the new mother’s need for a safe space. Keep visitors to a minimum and only allow for 1-2 adult family members near the space at one time if you have friends visiting

 

Pain

Like humans, each dog has their own limit for pain and irritation. There are breeds that are commonly known for their pain sensitivity, such as chihuahuas, but most likely to bite or act out if they are in pain. If you notice your dog becoming irritable or acting out of character when you attempt to check a certain area for an injury, you should take your dog to your veterinarian or local animal hospital for treatment. 

 

Fear 

A response involving fear aggression is usually directed towards strangers or visitors the dog is not very familiar with. Similar to people, dogs are naturally scared of unfamiliar and potentially dangerous situations. A scared dog may bark, lunge, or jump at whatever or whoever they perceive to be a threat. Loud noises, fast movements, and large groups of people are common causes of fear in dogs. There’s no specific breed or gender that fear aggression affects more, but it is commonly seen in dogs who were not exposed to socialization early on. 

 

Dominance 

In most cases, when a dog acts out in dominance aggression, it usually is pointed towards the dog’s human family. This happens during innocent interactions such as trying to move the dog off of the bed while changing the sheets or stepping over a dog laying in the middle of a doorway. A vocal warning can precede the bite and is caused by the dog’s belief that he is in charge. This behavior is common in unneutered males and more confident breeds, such as Chow Chows and Rottweilers. 

 

Understanding the reasons behind a dog’s aggression is a great step to working with your dog on their responses. According to an Indianapolis personal injury lawyer who specializes in dog bites, a dog bite is not only emotionally traumatizing, but can also come along with many other obstacles, such as medical bills, plastic surgery, and other physical injuries. Before you interact with a new dog, take time to learn about their behavior and customs for the best results.

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