Any dog can have aggression issues caused by a number of reasons. When a dog bites a child or an elderly neighbor, the injury can be very serious.
Aggression in a dog should always concern an owner. The signs of aggression are growling, snapping, barking, biting, and lunging. Behaviors may escalate following this pattern:
- A still or rigid stance
- Lunging forward without making contact
- “Muzzle punch” (the dog basically punches a person with her nose)
- A snap or quick nip that leaves no mark
- Biting with enough sustained pressure to cause bruising
- Repeated bites that cause puncture wounds
In the worst scenario, the dog may bite and shake. Sometimes there may be little warning that the dog is about to bite or the escalation may occur in a matter of seconds.
Underlying reasons for aggression
Some breeds have a genetic predisposition to aggression. Those breeds often have been selectively bred to bring out protective or fighting traits. Examples may include a pit bull or Rottweiler.
A medical condition may lead to aggression even in toy breeds. If a dog has lost hair or gained weight, it could be associated with hypothyroidism. Hydrocephalus, a tumor, or trauma may cause damage to the brain and lead to aggression issues.
Fear-motivated aggression is a common cause of dog bites. The dog may perceive a threat and lash out at people. A dog might perceive that even the simple act of a neighbor reaching for its collar is a sign that the person is going to inflict harm. The dog might react in aggression to protect itself.
Some other reasons include protective aggression when young pups are nearby, territorial aggression defending a home, and predatory aggression motivated by the drive to hunt. A dog in pain may also attack the nearest person, so it is best to approach an injured dog with extreme caution.
Learned aggression is another cause of dog bites. This is not just training a dog to fight, but can happen when a dog finds that aggressive behavior gets the desired result. Barking and jumping on a delivery person may cause that person to leave faster, which the dog learns is effective.
Increasing number of dog bite claims
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that each year 4.5 million people suffer from a dog bite. Those at the most risk are children and adult men.
The number of dog bite claims has increased over the last 10 years. Most dog bite incidents do not result in an insurance claim. However, last year there were 17,359 claims filed, according to the Insurance Information Institute. This broke the record for the number of claims, which had been set in 2003.
When you or a loved one suffers a serious dog bite injury, contact an experienced personal injury attorney, Jeffrey H. Penneys, Esq. Monetary damages may be available to cover medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Mr. Penneys will work with you to help you receive any compensation which may be due to you. Call today or fill out the online form to get the answers you need.