Why Dogs Bite

The question of why dogs bite is an important factor in managing human and canine relationships. Understanding why dogs bite can help to avoid dangerous situations that may lead to a dog attack. Many individuals hold a common misconception that a dog attack may occur without any reason, warning, or cause. However, this belief is typically invalid. A dog attack is typically a dog’s response to a specific event that caused the dog to feel threatened or fearful. Dogs that are abused or improperly socialized or trained may have heightened aggression.

Dog Psychology

Understanding dog psychology can help to explain why dogs bite. A primary concept in understanding dog psychology is that dogs are not capable of the same emotions as humans. Furthermore, dogs do not premeditate their actions. They simply react to their environments. For example, a dog does not plan an attack. An attack is the dog’s instinctual reaction to a scenario in which it feels threatened or scared.

Canine Aggression

Canine aggression has grown to become a taboo. Canine aggression can play a role in why dogs bite. However, not all dog attacks can be attributed solely to canine aggression. It is important to understand that canine aggression is a natural survival instinct that traces back to wolves, the domesticated dog’s ancestors. Aggression is often traced to the dog’s desire to defend or protect itself, its territory, its possessions, or its family.

Developed Aggression

In many cases, extreme canine aggression can be attributed to the way the dog was raised. Dogs that are abused, neglected, or improperly socialized by their owners tend to exhibit more aggressive behavior than well-raised and well-treated dogs. Canine aggression may also be inherited, as certain breeds may be more instinctively aggressive than others. However, proper treatment and training can typically offset these aggressive tendencies.

Dog Bite Warning Signs

Before a dog attack occurs, dog bite warning signs can typically be observed. Dog bite warning signs can be clear indications that a dog is uncomfortable, and ready to take action if it feels the need. Learning to read dog bite warning signs is an important tool for understanding why dogs bite and how one can avoid a dog attack.

Dog bite warning signs may be seen when the dog:

  • Turns its head away from a person or animal
  • Walks away from a person or animal
  • Yawns, licks its chops, or scratches and bites itself during interaction
  • Growls, barks, or snaps
  • Maintains a rigid body with raised hair and a tucked tail
  • Lowers it head with its eyes raised

 

 

Sources:

“Dog Bite Prevention.” American Veterinary Medical Association. American Veterinary Medical Association, n.d. Web. 12 Jan 2014. <https://www.avma.org/public/pages/Dog-Bite-Prevention.aspx>.

Gershman, Kenneth A.Sacks, Jeffrey J. “Which Dogs Bite? A Case-Control Study of Risk Factors.” Pediatrics 93.6 (1994): 913. MasterFILE Complete. Web. 12 Jan. 2014.

Mueller, Larry. “Dog psychology 101.” Outdoor Life July 1996: 40+. Academic OneFile. Web. 12 Jan. 2014.