People who are not dog owners frequently have to interact with them nowadays. Visiting friends or family or walking in public parks and streets are the most common occasions.
On the other hand, part of the population is afraid of dogs because of news of attacks carried out on humans, given that some of the attacks have been carried out on their owners or on children, and have even been fatal.
In the first place, it should be clear that these cases are undesirable and unfortunate accidents caused by mistaken handling and rearing of the animals involved and not the usual behaviour of all or certain dog breeds. However, how can a layman know if he is facing a really dangerous dog? What type of situations should be avoided?
Many factors are involved in the possible dangerousness of a specific dog and the risk that it might attack a person. In most cases a dog attacks a human being as a way to achieve a desired goal: protecting territory, defending its puppies, expressing fear, proving his dominance or, unfortunately, following the training it has received from its owner.
To prevent the risk of attack you should avoid greeting unknown dogs, entering enclosures protected by them and, in general, interacting with any dog not under the control of its owner.
Aggressions caused by dominance usually take place within the direct family group that the dog lives with. This can be expanded to include visitors to a house where an uneducated dog reigns. In these situations, the visitor should avoid any type of contact with the dog, its belongings and its food. When visiting a place where you know there is an aggressive dog, you should not allow young children to play without supervision.
A dominant dog will usually look at you with a fixed stare, his ears will be perked-up and pointed forward, he will bare his teeth, his hackles will be up, he will be vigilant... When confronted by any of these signals, you should not look him directly in the eyes and avoid any kind of contact with the dog or with its belongings. You also should not run away, since this could provoke an attack.
You should pay attention to any of these possible warning signals given by the animal so you do not miss them and unwittingly provoke an incident of dominance aggression.
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Colegio Oficial de Veterinarios de Alicante
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