San Diego Personal Injury Attorneys | Elia Law Firm, APC



Are Dogs Attacking Without Warning or Are We Misinterpreting Key Signals?


Few stories garner as much sympathy and attention as dog bites. The more innocent the victim, the faster these stories spread. Victims of dog bites often indicate that the bite was completely unprompted and that there was nothing they could have done. However, animal behaviorists have a different take on it. Whether or not you own dogs, understanding their body language and knowing how to react to it can save you from a bite. If you have been bitten by a dog, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. Call Elia Law Firm at 619-444-2244 to schedule your free phone consultation with our San Diego dog bite lawyers now.

Dog bites are considered a public health issue. They affect people of all ages, genders, and locations. The most common bite location is the arm, followed shortly by the head and neck. The lower extremities are bitten less than a quarter of the time, and trunk bites are the least common. Although bites can happen at any time, they are more likely in the summer and on weekends. In the aftermath of a dog bite incident, seeking legal guidance from a specialized dog bite lawyer in San Diego is crucial to ensure your rights are protected and to pursue the compensation you deserve for any injuries or damages incurred.

Unpredictable Attacks Get Media Attention

Are Dogs Attacking Without Warning or Are We Misinterpreting Key Signals

It’s important to know why so many dog bites appear to happen without warning. The fact is, these cases get more attention and more interaction from readers or viewers. The media wants your attention and that means painting a narrative that frightens or alarms you. All dog attacks are scary, but if there’s nothing you can do to avoid them, it’s even more frightening. Furthermore, many people simply don’t know how to read a dog’s body language. When the media reports that a bite was unprovoked, they may genuinely believe that to be true. But an animal behaviorist can look at the exact same interaction and see something completely different.

Fear Drives Aggressive Behavior in Dogs

In the vast majority of cases, fear is what’s behind a dog’s aggressive behavior. While some dogs do genuinely have unprovoked aggression due to poor breeding or health concerns, aggression is generally related to fear. Dogs resort to biting and attacking when they feel they have no other choice. In most cases, bites and attacks come after many signals that a dog is afraid and feeling uncertain.

Humans Are Prone to Misinterpreting Important Fear Signals

Dogs have tons of different ways to indicate their fear. Obvious ones include efforts to move away from something frightening them, tail tucked under their stomach, and trembling. Others are harder to read. More challenging signs include pacing, refusal to eat, walking very slowly, yawning, panting, and licking their lips. Many of these signs can be missed entirely by a regular person, especially if they aren’t familiar with dogs. Many of these behaviors can also be attributed to other things, further complicating this issue.

Different Levels of Cues from Dogs

Every dog is different, but dogs generally start with gentle fear cues and ramp up as those cues get ignored. When they lay flat on the ground, pressing their belly down, they are trying to show that they are not dangerous and won’t cause harm to whatever they’re scared of. They may ramp up to unexpected movements, pacing, and submissive urination as their fear becomes harder to control. If the source of their anxiety is still present, they may finally growl or snap without the intent of actually biting. These are generally the last signs a dog gives before biting, and they must be honored immediately for your own safety.

Dogs go through these cues differently. Some go immediately to growling and barking when they’re afraid, while others will show more submissive cues for a long time before becoming antagonized enough to bark. A select few, especially those who have been abused, go straight to biting or lunging at people. Understanding the subtle cues of dog behavior can help prevent potential bites, but if you or a loved one have been bitten, seeking the expertise of a dog bite attorney is essential to navigate the legal process and pursue rightful compensation for any injuries or trauma experienced.

Our Role in Preventing Dog Bites

When a dog bites, they are often the ones who pay the price—even if the bite occurred because someone ignored their fear signals or their owner failed to keep them in a safe situation. That’s why we all have a role in preventing dog bites. Basic knowledge of fear signals and how to approach a dog in a way that makes them feel safe can do a lot to prevent bites.

Choose Elia Law Firm for Your Dog Bite Case

If you or someone you love has been bitten by a dog, it’s important to seek legal advice from a qualified dog bite attorney to understand your rights and potential for compensation. To schedule your free consultation, contact us online or give us a call at 619-444-2244.

Steven Elia
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