Potential reasons why dogs bite

On Behalf of | Nov 28, 2023 | Dog Bites

A dog bite can be very painful and may even lead to long-term symptoms. If there is nerve damage or tendon damage, for instance, it can limit someone’s mobility and their ability to work. It may take months or years to recover, if they do at all.

Dogs may bite for various reasons, and understanding these reasons can help prevent such incidents and promote safer interactions with them. Below are some potential reasons why dogs might bite.

Fear, stress or anxiety

A dog might feel threatened or fearful in certain situations, leading them to bite as a defensive reaction. This could be due to unfamiliar people, loud noises or specific environments that cause stress. For instance, dogs often bite unfamiliar children who run up to them suddenly, even if those children are just excited and they want to pet them.

Pain or illness

Dogs in pain or suffering from an illness might bite as a response to being touched or handled, especially if the affected area is touched or if they’re startled. In some cases, a dog’s injury may make them feel vulnerable. The dog may be more likely to bite as it protects itself.

Protecting resources

Like humans, dogs can become possessive or protective of their food, toys or territory. When they feel their resources are threatened, they might resort to biting to defend what they perceive as theirs. This is often why dogs bite joggers who enter their territory – even if that’s actually the sidewalk in front of the house – and why they sometimes bite people who try to pet them while they are eating.

Misinterpretation of body language

Humans might unknowingly provoke a dog by misreading their body language or ignoring warning signs (growling, baring teeth, stiffening) that a dog is uncomfortable or stressed. Dogs may also misinterpret what humans mean. For example, people sometimes try to run from a dangerous dog, but that just causes the prey drive or chase response to kick in, and the dog may be more likely to bite them due to their movements.

It’s essential to recognize that any dog, regardless of breed or background, may bite under certain circumstances. Responsible dog ownership involves training, proper socialization and understanding a dog’s body language to prevent situations that might lead to biting incidents. When dog owners are not responsible, but are negligent and allow a bite to occur, the injured party may need to seek compensation for lost wages, medical bills and other costs.