How Not to Make a Dog Angry

By Toni Drugmand as part of  the e-How video series

Body language and cues are important in the dog world for communication.  Body language cues give off warning signs that your dog is comfortable, uncomfortable, feeling threatened or even signaling intentions of aggression and a bite.  Below is a list of behaviors and scenarios to  look for.  These telling signs can give you information to help avoid making a dog feel uncomfortable or angry which might result in an avoidable aggressive display and dog bite.

There are approximately 74 million dogs living in the U.S.

  1. Dog bites are the 5th most common reason for emergency room visits
  2. The highest incidents of dog bites are among children, the elderly and service workers (utility man, plumber, mailperson, etc.)
  3. 50 percent of children under age 12 are bitten (boys have a higher incident rate than girls)
  4. A dog new to your home who has been there 60 days or less will have a higher bite incident rate

Dangerous Scenarios- These are situations to avoid if possible

  1. Dog in yard, no owner in sight
  2. Two or more dogs together (this becomes a pack)
  3. Restrained dog; dog on chain, behind a fence, behind a screen door, etc..
  4. Dog on the loose with no owner in sight

Telling Body Language Cues

  • Ears forward
  • Mouth closed
  • Body stiff
  • Flagging tail (stiff, high tail moving slightly back and forth
  • Hard stare
  • Weight shift forward OR backward (signifies I want to move towards you to protect myself or I want to move away to try to flee). This is the fight or flight phenomenon.

What do you do if a dog is scaring you or acting too excited?

STAND STILL. DO NOT RUN. DO NOT SCREAM. Movement causes a dog to want to run and chase.  Standing still and staying calm will diminish a dog’s interest in the game of chase quickly. Even a serious dog will not bite a stationary object that isn’t moving or screaming.  In the event that you become knocked down or are already on the ground, roll into a ball and use your hands and arms to cover your face, neck and other vulnerable places. Hold very still.  The dog will soon become disinterested in you.

This article was written to accompany the ehow videoHow Not to Make a Dog Angry”
Toni Drugmand is the owner Sit Means Sit Dog Training where…. A Trained Dog is a Happy Dog! For more information on training your dog visit us at for articles, tips and videos.

*Be sure your pet is free of health issues before starting a training program. Never hesitate to seek the help of professional dog trainer, especially when it comes to dog aggression.

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