The majority of the time, dogs in Washington who have been well-trained are very unlikely to bite you. However, like any animal, they can be unpredictable so it is important to be prepared by knowing what to do in case a situation arises where a dog you encounter becomes aggressive.

Knowing dog body language 

While dogs may not be able to speak English (or any other language for that matter), besides the few commands we can teach them, they do communicate, and the language they use to do so is body language. When a dog is likely to become aggressive, is will hold eye contact and growl, baring its teeth. It may raise its hackles and arch its back up.

The CDC lists some ways that you can communicate to an aggressive dog that you are not a threat, which may quell its aggressive behavior. Avoid looking at its eyes and turn your body somewhat away from it. Do not panic and run away from the dog and shout, but rather remain calm and slowly walk away, as this will help to prevent it from wanting to chase you.

Preventative measures

Typically a dog will not become aggressive without a cause, but you should always ask the dog’s owner before approaching it if it is okay to do so. When petting the dog, stick out a closed hand and let it sniff you and see you first. Avoid approaching a dog that is eating, protecting its puppies or sleeping.

This is an informational article and should not be used as legal advice.