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Pet Sitters Resources

How to Recognize if a Pup is About to Bite

scared-dogYour Meet-n-Greet went great and Fido was nothing short of PAWsome. But as soon as Fido was dropped off , he’s become slightly territorial and aggressive. When pups are scared or nervous, they may react harshly out of fear. It is important to be able to recognize the signs that a dog is about to bite. Below are a few of the main signs to look for.

1. Growling – Some signs are subtle, some signs are obvious. Growling is among the latter. Dogs tend to growl when they are unhappy or uncomfortable, so once you hear growling, give the pooch some space. If you notice growling in your own dog, it is also helpful to take note of when it occurs: does it happen when you take a toy away? When you get too close to his face? When you wake him up from a nap? This helps you get to know your dog better, so be sure to take note of it.

2. Stiff body – Dogs use body language to communicate; thus, owners and strangers should learn how to read those body language signals, as subtle as they may be, in order to avoid any harm being done. When a dog is getting ready to bite, he may stiffen his body and become motionless for a few seconds. If the dog reacts to being pet by stiffening his body, this is a sign of discomfort and you should give him his space.

3. Yawning – Although yawning is known to be a sign of exhaustion, it is also a sign of discomfort and can be a forewarning of a dog bite.

4. Stiff tail - A happy or excited dog wags his tail. A stressed and uncomfortable dog stiffens his tail and points it upward in the air.

5. Dominant head - This sign is mostly for dog-dog interactions. When one dog is around another dog, he may put his head above and on top of the other dog’s head. This is a form of dominance and can sometimes indicate fear.

Some other doggy DOs and DON’Ts:

– Do ask the owner for permission to pet the dog before doing so.

– Do give the dog some time to sniff you before getting too close.

– Do pet the dog gently and slowly.

– Don’t put your face near a dog’s mouth.

– Don’t make fast movements around a new dog.

– Don’t interrupt a dog when he is sleeping or eating.

Despite these signs, dogs are called a man’s best friend for a reason. It is always vital to realize that dogs, although they are not humans, have their own way of communicating. Hosts, especially, should adapt to the dog’s way of letting them know when they feel stressed, uncomfortable, or threatened. Who knows – if you play your cards right and the pooch feels like you’re not a threat, you may end up with a best friend of your own!

If you have any additional questions or encounter an emergency situation, email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call us at 866-749-1551.


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