People living in Florida will likely encounter dogs on a frequent basis. While many dogs are friendly, it is important to be able to determine if a dog is aggressive and should not be approached.

Even if a dog’s owner says the animal is friendly, that does not necessarily mean that it is safe to approach. A better way to tell is to understand dog body language and be able to look for the signs of aggression.

Easy-to-see indicators of dog aggression

 If a dog does not want to be approached, it will usually show it in a few different ways. The following list provides some of the behaviors that mean someone should keep his or her distance:

  • Bearing its teeth
  • Snarling or growling
  • Aggressive, guttural barking
  • A stiff and tensed body posture

If a dog is not showing outward signs of aggression, it should still be approached with caution. Sometimes, if it feels threatened, a dog will nip or snap at someone who gets too close to it.

The more subtle signs

Every animal has its own way of communicating, and sometimes the tell is less obvious. One clear sign that a dog is stressed is that the hair on the back of its neck is standing up.

When a dog is being dominant or confrontational, it will almost always stare at the thing it is threatened by. If, when approached, a dog attempts to lock eyes and stare down the person approaching, it is likely warning him or her to not get any closer.

By taking care to watch for these signs, people can typically avoid being bitten. Since not all dogs will act in the same way, it is a good idea to always be cautious with any unfamiliar animal.