7 Reasons Why Dogs Bite

Posted 10 months ago. Applies to West Virginia, 0 helpful votes


It's important to note that all dogs have the potential to bite, whether big or small. All breeds of dogs have the capacity to bite, although certain ones have a greater inclination. Take note of these reasons dogs bite and understand how to approach and avoid when necessary.


Does it have a protective/possessive response?

Many times dogs bite because they are either protecting something/someone or have become possessive of it. This can include a person, puppies, food, water, toys and territory. Look for the dog crowding a food dish or growling while holding a toy.


Is it frightened/startled?

When a dog isn't expecting something to happen, its natural instinct might be to bite. Some dogs attack when awakened, though the reaction sometimes can be attributed to their disposition. Your best bet is never to attempt to wake a sleeping dog.


Has it been provoked?

Provoking a dog can include anything from teasing to moving into the dog's space. Dogs may bite children when a child inadvertently hurts the dog by pulling on its fur or stepping on it. Even when visiting friends or family who have a friendly dog, parents should monitor all interactions between the dog and child.


Is the dog sick, injured or old?

Not feeling well, being in pain or just being elderly are some internal reasons why dogs bite. They have no way of expressing their pain or discomfort, so out of grumpiness, they react by biting.


Has play become aggressive?

An overly excited or poorly trained dog sometimes will bite in the midst of play. Avoid this by skipping the tug-of-war style of play, and play fetch instead.


Does the dog view someone as prey?

Certain actions and behavior can cause dogs to view people as prey, which is another reason why dogs attack children. Because they're small in size and may run away from dogs, children can awaken a dog's predatory instinct. Even when adults run or bicycle past a dog, its instinct to chase may be triggered. If someone is screaming close to the dog, that can also trigger a reaction.


Is the dog chained, tethered or tied up?

When dogs are always attached to a stationary object, being restrained sometimes can elicit a vicious reaction when people come near. This can happen because they feel trapped and more likely to protect their surroundings.

Dog bites that leave puncture marks or otherwise break the skin increase the risk of infection. A severe bite also could cause significant damage that requires sutures or stitches. In some cases, it could result in permanent scarring. It's important to understand why dogs bite and what people can do to minimize the risk of becoming a victim.

Additional Resources

The reasons for a dog biting might or might not impact filing a claim against its owner. It's important to consider how dog bite laws could affect one's ability to pursue legal action.

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