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How can you identify an aggressive dog?

Man's best friend can be your worst nightmare during a dog attack. Even seemingly friendly and affable dogs are often prone to aggressive behavior, and this behavior can easily lead to dog bites when pet owners aren't vigilant about controlling their animal. VCA offers the following information on dog aggression and how it can be identified.

An aggressive episode often escalates, sometimes at a rapid pace. At the outset, the dog will use certain behaviors to diffuse the situation and remove whatever is making him afraid or uncomfortable. A dog might attempt to physically separate from what he perceives as a threat by turning away or moving his head. The dog's posture is another indicator of a potential attack. Be wary of dogs who crouch or get low to the ground, or those whose ears are flattened against the head. In most cases, growling or snarling usually precedes the bite.

Keep in mind that not all canine aggression is the same, as there is a wide range of reasons why a dog might lash out at others. Dogs can attack when they're in pain or feel uncomfortable. This can be a real concern when a person is attempting to help a dog that is wounded or trapped. If a dog feels his owner is being threatened some way, an attack is also possible, even if the threat is not legitimate. In the same token, a dog may feel threatened by a person, which can elicit fear-biting.

Fear-biting is particularly dangerous since most people don't expect a fearful animal to lash out. In some cases, a fearful animal may behave defensively, which can be confusing to bystanders and others. The goal of most canine aggression is to remove whatever is causing the bad feelings, whether that is fear or frustration.