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Tips for Recognizing a Dog’s Body Language

Wisconsin ranks in the top 10 states for insurance claims related to dog bite injuries, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

Nationally, there are about 4.5 million reported dog bites each year, and 1 in 5 of those bites requires medical treatment, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If you or a loved one was injured by a dog bite in Wisconsin, one of the most important steps you can take after receiving medical attention is to call the Madison injury attorneys at Boller & Vaughan at 608-268-0268 for a free consultation to discuss your legal options.

Dog bites are often avoidable, and there are steps you can take to minimize your risk of a dog attack. Dogs are effective communicators, and they say much through their body language. Understanding these physical indicators can help prevent a conflict with an aggressive dog.

A relaxed dog, for example, will hold its head high and its ears either straight up or flat against its head (depending on the type of dog). Its mouth may be open and its tongue out, but the dog breathes normally. Its tail will be down, and it will stand at ease.

When a dog is in a playful mood, it will crouch on its forepaws with its tail wagging in the air. Its ears may be pointed upward or perked, and the dog may pant a bit more heavily in anticipation of play.

A dog that is alert or wary will have its ears pointed forward or raised. It will likely watch with wide eyes and a closed mouth. The dog’s tail may point horizontally, and its stance will be slightly rigid and forward leaning.

When a dog is anxious or stressed, it will lay its ears back or down and stand with its body lower to the ground. The dog’s tail will likely be down, and the dog may begin to pant rapidly.

A dog that is scared will also tuck its ears back or downward, as well as tuck its tail. A worried dog may make only brief eye contact and lick at the air.

If a dog is aggressive and desires to display dominance, it may bare its teeth and curl back its lips. It will stand stiffly and may raise its hackles, and its tail will be firm and raised slightly. Its ears may also be upright and slightly turned.

When a dog feels fear-based aggression, it will lay its ears back, raise its hackles and may snarl as a dominantly aggressive dog. However, a fearful dog will lower its body to a near crouch and tuck its tail.

A submissive dog will roll onto its back to display its stomach. It may raise its paws, tuck its tail and avoid eye contact. It may even release a small amount of urine.

The ability to recognize these signals can help prevent potentially dangerous encounters with dogs.

If you or a loved one was injured by a dog bite in Wisconsin, the Madison injury lawyers at Boller & Vaughan are here to help. Please contact us today for a free case consultation.