With millions of households in America having dogs as a part of the family, they are among the most popular pets. For the most part, dogs make great companions. That being said, they are animals which means their behaviors and body language differs from humans.
You may see a dog baring its teeth at you and know to be wary. But, is teeth baring always a sign of aggression when a canine does this?
Distinguishing between play and aggression
All dogs have sharp teeth and they can look intimidating when baring them, especially if the dog is a large breed. However, a dog may do this when they are simply playing, which is why it’s important to look out for other body language signals. While there are no guarantees, if a dog is sneezing lightly, wagging its tail and has a relaxed posture, then it is generally comfortable with the scenario, even if its teeth are exposed.
Of course, a dog baring its teeth may also be a sign that it is about to attack. The reasons behind dog aggression vary. Some dogs are trained to be protective, while others are just more fearful of strangers. There are also cases when a dog will bare its teeth and potentially bite because it is in pain and feels backed into a corner.
It’s important to be careful around any dog you do not know. If they bare their teeth, then it isn’t worth taking any chances by approaching them. Dog owners have a legal responsibility to control their animals. If you have been bitten by a dog that was not under control, then you may be able to hold the owner to account for your injuries. Seek further guidance to find out more about your options.