Recognizing Aggressive Dog Behaviors

The summer season is the best time to enjoy Montana’s natural wonders. After months of rain and snow, local adventurists are itching to hit the trails and enjoy their favorite recreational activities. However, Montana is a very dog-friendly state, so it’s important to review a few safety tips before planning a family outing.

Why Do Dog’s Bite?

With the weather improving, you’re likely to see many dogs cruising your local parks and nature trails. While most dogs are thrilled to suffer a little TLC, it’s always important to evaluate an animal’s behavior before reaching out for a good scratch.

Unfortunately, you can’t trust a pet owner when it comes to judging a dog’s mood. After all, even a friendly and gentle puppy can bite if it feels threatened, scared, or provoked by a stranger – especially an excited child.

Types of Aggression

According to research compiled by to, “about 1,000 U.S. citizens require emergency care treatment for serious dog bite injuries” on a daily average. Most of these incidents occur because adults and children fail to recognize that a dog is displaying aggressive behaviors.

Common attack behaviors include:

  • Growing or snarling
  • Bared or snapping teeth
  • Raised hackles
  • Rigid posture
  • Pricked ears
  • Low-range barking

Of course, it’s also important to identify the reason for the aggression in case you need to make a quick – but safe – escape. While a leashed pet can be comforted or restrained by its owner, the same barrier doesn’t apply when you’re dealing with a stray dog.

You may be able to escape an unsafe situation by recognizing what type of aggression is motivating a dog’s prey drive:

  • Territorial aggression – The dog is defending its space from an intruder. You may be able to avoid a bite by slowly backing away and crossing your arms to decrease your threat impact.
  • Predatory aggression – The dog’s prey drive is triggered without warning. Have you ever seen a dog get excited when it sees a squirrel rush past? This same concept also applies to humans, especially small children. These dogs aren’t always attacking out of viciousness; sometimes they want to catch their prey as a form of play. But the human body is fragile, and a dog’s powerful teeth and jaw muscles can easily break or fracture a person’s bones.
  • Protective aggression – The dog is protecting a member of its “pack,” whether that be a person or another dog. For example, mother dogs can be incredibly hostile when strangers approach their young. In this circumstance, it’s best to keep your distance and let momma have her way.
  • Possessive aggression – The dog is protecting its food or an item of importance. Again, the best policy in this situation is to back away in an unthreatening manner. Most dogs will calm down once the “threat” goes away.
  • Frustration-elicited aggression – The dog is displaying aggressive behaviors because it feels restricted by a leash. Some dogs get a little too excited when they’re on a walk and may nip their owner or a random passerby because they can’t process their restless energy. If you see a dog struggling against their leash, even if playfully, it’s best to give the animal a wide berth.
  • Fear Aggression – The dog is trying to escape a scary situation but feels cornered. Again, it’s best to back away and avoid making a movement that increases the animal’s anxiety. This can be extremely challenging, especially if you want to help a stray or wounded dog. But in that situation, your best option is to stay at a safe distance and calmly call animal control for assistance.

Taking Steps to Avoid an Injury

There are a few tips and tricks that can help you escape an aggressive dog. Your first step is to stay calm and ignore your instinctive flight response – unless the dog is already chasing you, of course. In the latter scenario, your best option is to find a barrier or move to higher ground.

Follow these steps to escape a scared or aggressive dog:

  1. Avoid making direct eye contact
  2. Don’t run away, scream, or make any sudden movements
  3. Cross your arms to decrease your threat impact
  4. Back away from the dog slowly
  5. Find a nearby barrier or climb onto an elevated surface

If you can’t avoid an attack, follow these steps:

  1. Stay still
  2. Calmly call for help
  3. Avoid screaming
  4. Grab an item you can use as a barrier
  5. Do not hit the dog with this item
  6. Block the dog’s vision with clothing or a bag
  7. If a dog knocks you down, curl yourself into a ball
  8. Use your hands, arms, and barrier item to protect your head and throat

Like many states, Montana has specific statutory and common laws that are aimed at controlling pets and checking their owners. Per the statute of limitations, you have three years to file a claim against a negligent dog owner. If your lawsuit is successful, you can recover compensation that accounts for your ongoing medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, property damage, and more.

Bitten by an Aggressive Dog? Pursue Damages Today.

Contact the Montana dog bite attorneys at Odegaard Miller Law, PLLC if you require legal representation after a dog attack. Our trial-tested legal team is familiar with the physical, emotional, and financial hardships associated with severe dog bite injuries. You can trust us to investigate the incident, compile essential evidence, and represent your interests both in and out of court. By negotiating with the defendant’s insurance company or legal team, we can help you secure a beneficial monetary settlement. If necessary, we can even take your case to court to make sure you recover compensation that facilitates your recovery process and safeguards your quality of life.

Contact Odegaaard Miller Law, PLLC at (406) 640-4441 to schedule a free consultation.