When dogs are stressed, afraid, or anxious, they may bite. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that a dog bite occurs every 75 seconds in the United States and that each day, more than 1,000 people require emergency medical care as a result.

One of the best ways to prevent dog bites is to know the signs dogs will exhibit if they are feeling fear, stress, or anxiety. Some are subtle, while others are more obvious. Here’s what you can look out for.

The subtle signs

  • Excessive yawning. Rather than being tired, he might be feeling uncomfortable.
  • Licking lips. If she isn’t anticipating food, her lip-licking could be an indicator of stress.
  • Avoiding eye contact. Your dog isn’t socially awkward; he might just not be enjoying the current situation.
  • Showing the whites of eyes. If a dog is feeling threatened, he likely won’t take his eyes off the potential threat. Regardless of how he moves his head, his eyes will stay locked, which can lead to the whites being exposed.
  • Wagging tail. Yes, she could be super happy, but she could also be super scared. 

The obvious signs

  • Growling. This one’s a pretty obvious sign your dog’s not happy with something.
  • Snapping or showing teeth. If your dog isn’t eating, chewing on your shoe, or barking at a passerby, and you can see her teeth, she’s likely feeling threatened or uncomfortable.
  • Rigid body. An uncomfortable dog will exhibit a rigid body. Fur standing up is usually an indicator he’s feeling threatened.

Paying attention to changes in your dog’s behavior can help prevent bites. Keep these signs in mind and exercise caution when you find yourself or your family around new dogs, and supervise your dog around children. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us.