Knowing the signs that a dog could be aggressive can help protect you from a dangerous attack. In Arizona, dog owners have legal responsibility for attacks by their pet, even if the animal has never bitten anyone before.

Review the signs that a dog could be preparing to bite so you can get to safety if possible.

Types of aggression

Most dogs are not aggressive by nature and show aggression only in specific situations. Most aggressive behavior by dogs falls into a few classifications:

  • Fear aggression, which occurs when the animal feels cornered, trapped or threatened
  • Possessive aggression, which happens when the dog feels the need to defend its food or possessions
  • Territorial aggression, when another person or animal trespasses on the dog’s territory
  • Protective aggression, when the dog springs into action to protect a family member
  • Social aggression, which occurs when the dog believes he has the highest status within the “pack”
  • Frustration aggression, which occurs when something keeps the dog from obtaining something it wants
  • Pain aggression, which occurs when the animal is in pain
  • Predatory aggression, which occurs because of the dog’s instinct to chase fast-moving objects

Understanding the reasons why a dog may become aggressive can help you avoid many situations in which an attack could occur.

Warning signs

Before a dog attacks, the animal will provide behavioral warning of the aggression. Most dogs show some or all of the following signs before biting someone:

  • Rigid, statue-still posture
  • Threatening, low-in-the-throat bark
  • Charging without actually touching the person
  • Touching the person with the nose
  • Growling and snarling
  • Showing teeth
  • Snapping or nipping

Failure to move away from a dog that has shown these signs of aggression can result in a serious bite or mauling attack. In Arizona, you have only one year to file a legal claim for your injuries after a dog attack, so it is important to act quickly if you or a family member experiences this type of injury.