Dog bites are serious business. Not only do they hurt, they can also easily become infected and be very nasty. However, they are rare. Most dogs are naturally friendly and social, and only bite if they are scared or if they think someone they love is in danger.
Nevertheless, being aware of what causes a dog to bite will make sure you and your family are safe, just in case. Even the friendliest dog might snap at you in certain circumstances, so you must learn to avoid situations that would cause your pet to do so.
The most common reason a dog will bite is because it is afraid in some way. Often, this is caused by behaviour you wouldn't think would scare your pet. You must remember that canine and human body language is quite different. Due to not being able to speak, dogs also focus a lot more on movement and expression than you would.
Staring directly into your dog's eyes, for example, is an act of aggression and dominance. It is how dogs tell each other they are the boss. Baring your teeth is also a sign you are about to fight. You might think you are looking at your pet and giving them a big toothy grin, but actually you're telling them you are a threat.
Similarly, you can look at your dog's body language and notice the signs that they are scared and ready to bite. Typically, their bodies will become tense, their tail will stiffen and their ears will become flat. More obviously, they may bare their teeth and growl at you. If you see these signs, you should make an effort to calm them down.
Be confident when you do so. If you act scared, you will encourage your dog to become even more afraid. Instead, you should be calm and measured. There is no need to confront your dog in order to calm them down; often, it is better to leave the room and let them calm themselves down than risk a bite.
Written by: Hannah Dyball