Living next door to an aggressive dog can add needless stress to your life especially if you must play Russian roulette with an unpredictable animal while on your way to work every morning. Fortunately, if a dog looks threatening there are things you can do to keep yourself and your family safe, but you’ll first need to understand the real reasons behind dog aggression.
Why Are Some Dogs More Aggressive than Others?
The jury is still out on the real reasons for dog aggressivity, with some people strongly believing that an aggressive dog is born that way while others thinking that dog aggressivity accumulates over time due to a laundry list of contributing factors including upbringing, anxiety, illness, and pain.
In recent years, research have sided with the latter crowd, as there isn’t a universal factor that can make all dogs aggressive. For instance, while some breeds are more prone to aggressivity than others, not all dogs belonging to an aggressive breed turn into killing machines.
In fact, several years back, a British study found that dog owner behavior is a more reliable predicting factor of dog aggressivity than breed. After interviewing around 4,000 dog owners, researchers found that, not surprisingly, dogs who had been trained as pups were less likely to attack strangers. Also, dogs with young owners (under the age of 25) were generally nearly twice as aggressive as dogs with older owners (+40 years).
Another interesting find was that owners who overused negative reinforcement and punishment to keep the pups in line had dogs double as likely to be aggressive toward strangers and thrice as likely to attack family members than dogs whose owners took a gentler approach. This particular finding adds more evidence to the theory that aggressivity in dogs, just like in children, lies in nurture, not just nature.
What Are the Most Dangerous Dog Breeds?
The most aggressive dog breeds according to homeowners’ insurance companies include (in no particular order):
· Pit Bulls
· Doberman Pinschers
· Siberian Huskies
· Chow Chows
· Wolf Hybrids
· German Shepherds
· Staffordshire Terriers
· Great Danes
· Alaskan Malamutes
These breeds are understandably blacklisted by most U.S. homeowners’ insurance carriers, but one may wonder why anecdotally aggressive breeds such as chihuahuas are not on the list. Smaller aggressive breeds have been given a free pass because the amount of bodily injury or property damage small breeds can inflict is manageable by insurers.
Also, regardless of the breed, strays and rescues have a higher risk of aggressivity mainly because of the upbringing, multiple traumas, and resulting anxiety. An anxious dog is more likely to attack you out of the blue than its more relaxed peers are.
Dealing with an Aggressive Dog
If you know that a dog is prone to aggression, you can just avoid it.. But when the aggressive dog lurks just around the corner or behind a fence like your neighbor’s dog probably does, things can get more complicated than that.
If the dog is about to lunge at you, don’t run and turn your back to the dog. Back away slowly and avoid eye contact. If the dog is already about to attack staring it in the eyes can only further fuel its aggression. Also, do not smile at an aggressive dog. Baring your teeth at a dog sends the wrong message.
Try to calm the dog down with a soothing but firm voice. Don’t give in to fear as dogs can literally sense fear. If he bites you don’t hit it back and don’t pull away. Try to slowly detach from the dog by using a prop like a coat or your backpack/bag.
If the dog has bitten you, you should report the dangerous dog to animal control. By doing so, you can help potential victims in case of future dog attacks. Some states have one free bite rules in place, which means that their owners get a free pass when it comes to liability if they had no idea that their dog is aggressive before its first attack.
Animal control agencies will be able to refer you to the nearest police station that deals with animal crimes, as well.
Further Legal Recourse
If your dog bite-related injuries or property damage is severe, you can take legal action after being bitten by a dog (for more details, check out the link). A dog bite attorney can help get you the compensation you deserve by either negotiating a fair settlement with the dog’s owner or with his or her insurance carrier.
Most dog bite attorneys work on a contingency basis which means that you’ll get a free legal consultation and won’t have to pay any of their fees unless they win your case.