Thursday, April 10, 2008

Human Behavior as Factor in Animal Attacks

To say the least, not all animal attack cases are caused by behavioral problems, especially in dogs. In some instances, a provocation often precedes aggression – which means that dogs do not normally attack unless you give him a reason to do so.

There are certain human behaviors that can trigger an animal attack. Here are some situations:

  • Taking away food or water from a dog, or moving towards a dog’s food. This action is often interpreted by a dog as an act of aggression, which are often overlooked by dog owners.
  • Accidentally harming a dog, like stepping on its tail or paws
  • Attacking a dog or its companions (which could be other dogs or their owners), and acting in a manner that the dog perceives as an attack
  • Like humans, startling and disturbing a resting or sleeping dog can provoke an attack
  • Approaching or touching a sick or injured dog. Older dogs, like people, have the tendency to become "cranky" or sensitive and develop a tendency to become "snappish".
  • Approaching dogs already fighting
  • Threatening a puppy in the presence of an adult dog, especially its mother
  • In dog communication, staring at a dog directly in the eyes is an act of dominance or aggression, which is more dangerous when on the same visual level as the dog (such as small children), or when the human is unfamiliar to the dog.
  • Running away from a dog do not prevent it from attacking as the catch and chase instinct are normal to them. Besides, most dogs can outrun and overtake the average human, hence running away from an animal attack is more dangerous.
  • The natural instinct to jerk one's hands upwards away from an inquisitive dog often sends the dog a strong impulse to grab and hold, resulting in the dog jumping on the person and thrusting its head towards the raised hands.
  • Ignoring "Beware of Dog" signs: trained attack dogs, unlike most dogs, may attack an intruder without warning.
  • Entering a dog's "territory" such as a portion of a neighbor's backyard or one’s porch may also cause an attack

Nevertheless, with proper care and training, a dog’s behavior may be held in check. For signs of aggressive behavior, a pet owner may consult with a professional animal trainer to determine its causes and take corrective actions before it is too late.