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Identifying Signs of Aggression in Dogs

Dogs are known for their loyalty, their unending love for us, their eagerness to please, all of which are traits that have afforded them the status of being known as our best friends. Dogs make great companions, and owning one has been shown to decrease anxiety, depression, and overall stress.

Dogs also can provide protection; they’ll bark to warn you against trespassers, and they’ll growl and show their teeth to scare off potential predators. No doubt you’ve heard the saying “his bark is worse than his bite”; maybe that’s true, but when you have a barking, snarling dog approaching you, you should never test that theory.

Millions of people are bitten by aggressive dogs each year in the United States, and dog bite injuries are a serious matter. Read on to learn when an aggressive dog is getting ready to attack, and what to do if you get bit by an angry dog.

Avoiding Dog Bites

For most people, their experience with dogs is pleasant: they have fond memories of their own childhood family pet, and who can resist a wagging tail and those soulful eyes? While admiring a dog for its appearance – whether a regal-looking Golden Retriever, an adorable Shih Tzu, or a comically cute Pug with a face only a mother could love – it is important to remember all dogs need space.

The Humane Society of the United States has spent 60 years dealing with dogs of all breeds, and no matter what type of dog it is or how sweet, cuddly, and friendly it looks, they advise you to approach all dogs cautiously.  Never pet a dog without asking, and watch out for the following danger signs that a dog is about to bite:

  • The dog is intensely staring or backing away
  • The dog’s tail is stiff or its body is tensed
  • The brow may be furrowed, and the eyes rolled back so the whites are visible
  • The dog may yawn or flick its tongue and its ears may be pulled back

Any one of these signs could mean trouble. Calmly and slowly get a safe distance away from the dog, but don’t turn your back or run; the dog’s natural instinct will be to chase you. If you do suffer a dog attack, try to ‘feed’ the dog the arm of your jacket or your purse. If you get knocked to the ground, roll into a ball with your hands over your ears. As much as you might want to scream or thrash around, try not to; it will only make matters worse.

What To Do If You’re Bit By A Dog

According to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), approximately 4 million Americans are bitten by dogs, often those that are owned by the victim’s family, friends, or neighbors. The AAFP recommends the following steps for treating dog bites:

  • Dog bites carry a high risk of infection, so thoroughly irrigate the wound as soon as possible
  • Take pictures to document the dog bite
  • Have the bite examined by a physician and assessed for potential tetanus and rabies
  • If your doctor prescribes antibiotics, take the full prescription as indicated, in order to prevent infection

Although deaths due to dog attacks aren’t common, they do happen. Dog bites can result in scarring, as well as permanent damage to bones or ligaments. Unfortunately, children are often the victims of these kinds of attacks. Both the Humane Society and the AAFP advise parents to warn children to be cautious and respectful when approaching any dog; even a beloved pet can bite if disturbed while sleeping, eating, is in heat or is ill.

Contact Our Portland Dog Bite Attorneys

If you or someone you know has been injured due to an aggressive dog or as the result of a dog attack, contact our experienced Oregon dog bite attorneys right away. At the Johnston Law Firm, we understand the serious repercussions of dog bite injuries. We may be able to help you recover damages due to the injuries you’ve suffered. Call the Johnston Law Firm today, and let our experienced staff review your case. We’ll help you get the compensation you deserve.


Marc Johnston

Lead Attorney at Johnston Law Firm, P.C.

Based in downtown Portland, Marc A. Johnston is the owner and managing attorney of the award-winning, internationally-known personal injury law firm, Johnston Law Firm, P.C. Marc's career has been dedicated to representing the injured and individuals who have been treated unfairly by an insurance company. His focus on trial law creates the backbone of the Johnston Law Firm — a firm that is ready to go the distance in seeking justice for its clients.