Author: Maria Kuzmiak, Wellness Writer
Dogs rarely bite people, and those that do usually have a good reason. Even then, a dog will usually warn you before he bites. Dogs bite for reasons that fall into a few general categories. For example, they may be angry, frightened or hurt. Here are some typical reasons why dogs bite:
They are protecting a possession or territory. If you do something to threaten a dog’s possessions, such as pull food away from him, he might get angry and bite. Another more common scenario is that the dog is protecting his owner or his owner’s property. Dogs are also territorial animals, so if they feel that their space is being invaded, they might retaliate by biting.
They are startled or afraid. Fear will cause a dog to react by becoming aggressive, and sometimes this means the dog will bite. Dogs may interpret something that happens in the environment as a threat, even when it is not intended as such. For example, if a fearful dog is put into a carrier for a trip to the vet, he might react by biting.
They are sick or in pain. If your dog is ill or is nursing a wound, he might bite in response to being disturbed, especially if he is disturbed in such a way that causes more pain or discomfort.
They are being teased. This is often the case when a dog bites a child. Children may play with dogs in a way that irritates the animal. It may not be obvious to the child that the dog is unhappy about the teasing, though there usually is some kind of warning given. If the teasing continues, the dog is likely to bite. Teaching children to understand when a dog is unhappy with their behavior can prevent them from being bitten as a result of teasing.
How do dogs warn people before they bite?
A dog will use different body language clues to let you know that he is not happy with your behavior before he resorts to biting. The type of body language depends on the behavior or situation that is bothering the dog. If you notice any of the following, it may be a warning sign that a dog is about to bite.
- Barking, growling or snarling with bared teeth
- Fur raised, his ears pulled back or tail held high
- Slowly wagging a lowered tail
- Licking chops or staring at you intently
- Turning away, running away or trying to run away
If you have a dog that has bitten someone for other reasons, the animal may have a general problem with anxiety or aggression. In such cases, there are some natural remedies that can help calm your pet and keep him from becoming anxious or aggressive. Homeopathic formulas that contain ingredients like scutellaria, chamomile, passion flower or belladonna are often effective. These herbs can help calm an animal that is prone to anxiety or aggression.