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Can you spot a dangerous dog?

Some people assume all dogs are dangerous and fearfully keep their distance. Others love dogs and will approach them all with the same friendly attitude, not bothering to consider the risks. Both approaches are flawed. To stay safe, you want to identify a dangerous dog and know when to be careful. 

Unfortunately, that’s not always easy. Humans may miss the signals that dogs send. For instance, a wagging tail can be a sign of friendship. It can also be a sign of aggression. Do you know the difference? Identifying it incorrectly could lead to injury. 

To help you know when a dog is dangerous — besides the obvious signs of snapping, biting, snarling and growling — consider some of these tell-tale behaviors:

  • The dog seems very possessive of its food and growls low in its throat when anyone approaches.
  • The dog appears very stiff and nervous. 
  • When a person nears them, the dog stops whatever they were doing and goes tense, ready to act.
  • The dog does not listen or respond to commands. 
  • The dog reacts negatively when the owner is near someone else — hugging a new person or shaking their hand, for instance.
  • The dog’s hair stands up and it stares right at you, trying to make eye contact. 
  • The dog is wagging its tail, but the tail is lifted very high up and moving slowly, rather than moving with the loose and excited motion that means it is happy to see you. 

Spotting a dangerous dog is just the first step. If that dog bites you, you may need serious medical care, especially if it gets infected. That’s when you must know what options you have to seek compensation for your injuries and financial losses.