Growling and teeth baring are not the only ways dogs convey their aggression, according to a new report.
“The ladder of aggression starts with lower level and more subtle behaviors and they will progress to more intense behaviors,’ Carrie Westgarth at the Small Animal Teaching University in Liverpool told BBC Two’s “Trust Me, I’m a Vet”.
Westgarth and the team at the Small Animal Teaching University have researched hundreds of cases of dog attacks and have worked out the code that warns a bite may be coming.
Dogs can display agitation by yawning, panting, lip licking and turning away, Westgarth said.
The next stage in the “ladder of aggression” could be raising a front paw, walking or creeping away. If their ears are pulled back that could also be a sign they may bite.
Crouching, a tail tucked under, staring or stiffening up may indicate even higher warning levels.
Of course, not every dog will follow these exact patterns of behavior, but Westgarth’s research gives guidance especially for the earlier signs.
The solution is to reassure dogs and making them feel comfortable, or try to avoid the pet getting on the “ladder of aggression” in the first place, Westgarth said.