9 Most Common Warning Signs That a Dog May Bite

Dog Bite

There are a number of reasons why dogs suddenly become aggressive. It could be because they are afraid, they want to assert their dominance, or they are guarding their territory or possession. Regardless of the reason, you can actually tell if a dog is about to bite if you know how to read its body language.


Dog Bite


In this article, we will share the 6 most common warning signs that your dog may bite.


  1. Your dog is growling.


Perhaps, one of the most obvious signs of dog aggression is growling. When your dog starts to growl or snap, it means it is uncomfortable or not pleased with the situation. When this happens, you should try to give your dog some space.


Also, as a dog owner, you should observe what triggers this reaction. Does your dog growl when a stranger comes near it, or perhaps when you disturb its sleep? Take its growling as another way for your dog to communicate with you. Paying attention will surely help you understand it better and manage the problem.


  1. You notice raised fur on its back


Yet another common sign that a dog might bite is when you see the hair on its back all standing up. Note, however, that in some dogs, only the hair on the back of its neck and between its shoulders or near its tail are standing up when it’s afraid or overstimulated. Despite these differences, raised fur in dogs generally means you need to back off.


  1. Your dog shows a rigid body posture


When your dog is happy and comfortable, it will seem relaxed with its ears low and its tail wagging excitedly. On the other hand, if a dog is about to get aggressive, you’ll see the complete opposite. Its entire body will go rigid, and its tail and ears will be pointing up.


So when you see a dog’s body starting to freeze as you approach to pet it instead of wiggling to get closer, that’s a clear sign that it’s not happy to be touched. Move away before you make it too uncomfortable.


  1. Your dog is cowering and tucking its tail


Cowering and tail tucking are obvious signs that your dog is afraid. While fearful dogs don’t always bite, this fear can increase the chances that it will bite. So just to be safe and avoid unfortunate incidents, if you encounter a dog that is cowering away and its tail is tucked between its legs, you should back off.


When it gets comfortable with you, it will surely approach you on its own. This will only happen when it feels safe, and doesn’t feel the need to bite and defend itself.


  1. You notice your dog licking its lips, yawning, and averting its gaze.


Is your dog licking its lips even though it’s not eating? Do you notice that it’s yawning repeatedly and turning its head to avoid meeting your gaze?


If yes, this just means that your dog is uncomfortable with something about the situation or the surroundings. While it’s important to note that these signs don’t always mean that it is ready to bite, feelings of stress and uneasiness increase the likelihood that it will.


So when your dog is showing these gestures, take the time to observe what makes it uncomfortable and try to alleviate these negative feelings that may lead to aggressive behaviors.


  1. You are seeing the whites of your dog’s eyes.


Professional dog trainers usually refer to this as the whale eye. You will see the whites of your dog’s eye or the sclera when it moves its head slightly but doesn’t move its eyes. The sclera will show around its eyes somehow depicting a half-moon, and your dog may even widen its eyes to expose it more.


But what does this mean? Generally, whale eyes are a sign of anxiety in dogs. Just like the other signs we shared in this article, this is not a surefire sign that it’s going to bite.


However, when a dog is feeling anxious, it is more likely to show aggressiveness. So when you see that a dog is showing the whites of its eyes, it’s recommended to give it some space until it becomes more at ease.


  1. The dog is following you with head low to the ground.


Stalking outside of play is predatory behavior. When combined with an intense stare and rigid body, it could mean that the dog is getting ready to bite you. You can easily tell if your dog is doing this in a playful manner by checking if its body appears relaxed.


  1. The dog is showing teeth.


Another obvious sign that the dog is about to bite is if it lifts the corner of its lip to show all its teeth or even just a bit. While some dog breeds do this as a sign of pleasure, showing teeth is generally a sign of aggression.


  1. The dog is trying to get away from you.

If your dog is getting away from you as part of play, then this is not a problem. However, if it is out of fear, keep in mind that it is possible that the dog will eventually resort to aggression if you don’t back off. So the general rule here is to encourage a fearful dog to come to you instead of pursuing it.

Final Thoughts

While it’s cool to know if your dog is about to bite, and even more effective way to prevent such accidents from occurring is by training your dog. However, if you think you don’t have the time, skill, or patience to train your aggressive dog, expert dog trainers such as those from Delaware K9 Academy can help you.


These professionals have the right knowledge and skills to tame your aggressive dog and teach them more desirable behaviors. If you’re interested to learn more about the private lessons and two-week boot camps that they offer, get in touch with them today!


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