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Why Do Dogs Bite…And Can I Prevent It From Happening?

Fri 15 Mar, 2024 / by / Injuries, Personal Injury

Being bitten by a dog can be an extremely traumatic event. It can also cause significant physical damage, some of which can be chronic. Other than dealing with the psychological and physical pain, dog bite victims often wonder what happened that led to the bite. Sometimes, it can appear that a dog has bitten a person “out of nowhere.” Animals are unpredictable, and they can bite at any time for any reason. However, there are a few main reasons that dogs tend to bite. These are the top reasons that dogs will bite and what owners can do to lessen the likelihood of dog bites and associated liability. 


Dogs often bite when they feel threatened. Fear is a big motivator for dogs, and any animals, to act in an aggressive way because they do not know what else to do. You may have heard about fight or flight: put briefly, when facing a perceived life-threatening situation, people will either choose to fight the threat or run away. The same is true for animals. Many dogs, when feeling threatened, will run away. However, some of them will fight. Because dogs don’t have weapons beyond their teeth, they will bite. It is important to recognize the signs of fear in dogs. A scared dog might cower, shake, attempt to hide, or lowly growl. When a dog does this, a person should not approach and should leave the dog alone.

Being Territorial

Dogs have an innate territorial instinct and may defend areas they perceive as their own, such as their home, yard, or even their owner. When a dog senses that its territory is being encroached upon, it may react with aggression to protect it. This territorial aggression can result in bites, particularly if the dog views a person or another animal as a threat to its space. People should not attempt to enter yards with a dog that they do not know, nor should they stick their hands or other parts of their body into the gate, as the dog might perceive this as a threat. 

Being Protective 

Dogs may exhibit aggression regarding their possessions. They may guard food, toys, or other resources they consider valuable. Female dogs who have had puppies might also be protective of their young and try to defend them from what they think is a threat. It is important to never take food or toys away from a dog, especially one that you do not know, as the animal could be possessive and bite you. Additionally, do not approach a female dog with puppies that you are unfamiliar with. 

Not Being Properly Socialized

Dogs that lack the proper socialization or training tend to display more aggression towards others. Inadequate socialization can cause dogs to feel uneasy or threatened in the presence of unfamiliar people, animals, or surroundings, prompting aggressive responses. Similarly, insufficient training results in disobedience, posing challenges for owners to manage their dogs effectively in different scenarios. It is important to note that training and socialization do not mean that a dog will not bite; even the most well-trained dog can bite in the right conditions. However, a dog that is familiar with people is less likely to get triggered to bite.


Dogs experiencing pain or discomfort might resort to biting to ease their distress. Even typically gentle dogs can react aggressively when in pain, as it’s their means of signaling distress. This form of aggression can manifest when a dog is injured, unwell, or enduring ongoing discomfort. This is why it is important for owners to regularly inspect their dogs and take them for check-ups. Those who are not familiar with the dog should also ask before petting another dog, as they might be unaware that a dog is experiencing pain. 

Is It Possible to Prevent Dog Bites? 

It’s impossible to prevent all dog bites. However, there are a few things that you can do as a dog owner to prevent dog bites from happening:

  1. Don’t encourage aggressiveness. Discourage rough play or games that might encourage aggressive behavior in dogs, such as tug-of-war.
  2. Supervise interactions, especially with children. Always supervise interactions between children and dogs. Never leave young children alone with a dog, even if it’s a family pet.
  3. Socialize your dog from a young age. Expose them to different people, environments, and situations so they become comfortable and confident.
  4. Enroll your dog in obedience school. Teach it basic commands like “sit,” “stay,” and “leave it.”
  5. Neuter or spay your dog. Not only does neutering or spaying your dog help with population control, but this can also reduce a dog’s aggressive tendencies.
  6. Install secure fencing. Dogs can be territorial about their home turf and can mistakenly think that someone is trying to get onto their property. Installing a fence can prevent people from interacting with your dog on your property. It can also prevent the dog from running and meeting people.
  7. Warn people about your dog’s issues. Some dogs do not like other dogs or people other than the ones that they know. Make sure to warn people, like neighbors or visitors, that your dog is not very friendly and to give it space. Although people should always ask to pet your dog before they do, they do not always do this. Telling them your dog isn’t friendly gives them a warning. 
  8. Keep up on your dog’s health. Responsible pet owners should routinely monitor their dogs for any indications of illness or injury and promptly seek veterinary care when needed.

Contact an Experienced Dog Bite Attorney 

If you or a loved one has been bitten by a dog, do not hesitate to contact an experienced dog bite attorney. They can help you to figure out what you can do now if you have been bitten by a dog, and walk you through a dog bite lawsuit from beginning to end.