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Factors That Can Trigger a Dog to Bite and What Hints You Should Look Out for to Protect Yourself From Getting Bit 

According to WorldAtlas, dogs are considered as the most popular pets in the United States. Nearly 50 million households have at least one dog. Many people favor the idea of having a dog due to its appearance, love, loyalty, and companionship. However, not many people are suited to care for a dog. Unfortunately, many dog owners influence their pets to act aggressively as a way to show intimidation towards others. This could result in some serious legal issues if the dog is found biting or attacking an innocent bystander. 

Dog bite victims are entitled to file a personal injury claim against the dog owner for negligence. If the injured person was lawfully on private property or in a public setting, they have the right to take legal action. However, there are a few dog bite exemptions. This includes the following:

  • The injured person was trespassing on private property.
  • The injured person was provoking or teasing the dog.
  • The dog was working with police or the military.
  • The dog was defending its owner in accordance with California’s self-defense laws.

If you sustained a dog bite injury due to the dog owner’s negligence, our experienced Newport Beach dog bite attorneys are available 24/7 to offer legal assistance. We have won over 5,000 personal injury cases and recovered more than $1 billion in settlements for our clients. Due to our achievements, we have been recognized as one of the top personal injury law firms in Newport Beach.

To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation at our Newport Beach personal injury law firm, you will need to contact our legal team by calling (949) 822-9593 or emailing [email protected].

Why Does a Dog Bite? 

Dogs may use biting as a self-defense mechanism when they appear to be threatened or in danger. They may become aggressive over their food, puppies, or toys, as well. However, there are instances where a dog may playfully bite a person to indicate that they are interested in playing. We recommend not play-fighting with a dog you are not familiar with as it can result in overly excited and unintentional bites that could turn into a serious injury.

How to Tell When a Dog Is Going to Bite

You should know or understand a dog’s actions to determine whether it is getting ready to bite you. Below, we have created a list of common signs to keep an eye out for.


To show that they are uncomfortable, most dogs will not only avoid eye contact, but lick their lips and yawn, as well. Though this does not necessarily mean that the dog will bite, it does show that the dog is feeling anxious.


A low growl or flash of teeth have been known to show signs of aggression. A dog may react this way to indicate that they are feeling unhappy or threatened. If you notice a dog displaying this type of behavior, you should give them some space and time until they feel more comfortable around you.

Tail Wagging 

Typically, when a dog wags its tail, it indicates a sign of happiness or excitement. However, that is not always the case. There have been circumstances where a dog has used its tail as an “angry wag” rather than a “happy wag.” If a dog appears upset, it can wag its tail, raise it high, and keep its body perfectly still.

Tense Body

A tense body clearly indicates that a dog is uncomfortable. Most dogs stay in constant motion while they’re happy. When their body becomes stiff, it may be time to worry. If a dog is standing still, with their ears and tail raised, they are most likely preparing to protect themselves.

Raised Fur 

If a dog feels threatened or vulnerable, its hairs will raise up. This is its way of warning you that it is going to bite you if you do not leave it alone.

Dog Bite Prevention Techniques

In order to keep yourself safe from the chances of getting a dog bite, you should consider following the tips we have listed below. 

Be a Responsible Pet Owner

This is perhaps the most important step you can take. Owning a dog is not as easy as it may seem. You will be expected to train your dog to be obedient and well-behaved, especially when they are out in public. This requires a lot of regular exercises and adequate training. Spaying or neutering your dog will also help eliminate unexpected or undesirable behavior. Being a responsible dog owner will set the foundation for minimizing aggressive or uncontrolled outbursts, such as bites and attacks.

Have Your Dog Socialize

A dog that has not been exposed to other animals, people, or new settings could have a difficult time adapting to such a concept. Make sure to have your dog interact with others by placing them in social settings while they are still puppies. This way, they will grow up to become accustomed to the idea of visiting a person or animal in a setting other than their own home. Do not forget to have a leash at hand in case your dog becomes agitated or anxious when meeting new people or animals. 

Recognize Risks and Avoid Them

There are obvious and not so obvious situations where a dog may feel compelled to bite. By all means, do not approach a dog you are unfamiliar with while it is:

  • Not accompanied by its owner
  • Sleeping or eating
  • Sick 
  • With its puppies
  • With its dog owner
  • On the other side of a fence
  • Playing with a toy
  • Growling or barking
  • Wanting to be alone

Available Damages

Damages are a type of monetary award that is determined by a court of law to help compensate an aggrieved individual for any losses or injuries sustained as a result of someone’s negligence.

Economic damages are intended to compensate a plaintiff for losses that a dollar amount can readily be attached to. It is calculated by determining the amount of out-of-pocket losses an aggrieved individual has or will expect to incur as a result of their injuries. A few examples of economic losses include loss of earning capacity, medical bills, and lost wages.

Non-economic damages are essentially intended to cover losses that are thought of as subjective and will not necessarily cover out-of-pocket losses. This may include compensation for emotional distress, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life.

The third type of damages a California court may award are known as punitive damages. Punitive damages are intended as punishment and are only awarded when a defendant’s behavior is especially harmful. It is relatively rare and, in fact, was only incorporated in 5 percent of all verdicts. Furthermore, there is no real set standard for calculating and awarding punitive damages. Punitive damages are awarded at the court’s discretion and will vary depending on the specific circumstances of a case.

West Coast Trial Lawyers Is Here to Help

If you are a dog bite victim and would like to pursue legal actions against the party at-fault, our Newport Beach dog bite attorneys at West Coast Trial Lawyers will help you recover compensation for losses you have suffered. 

Reach out to us today by calling (949) 822-9593 or emailing [email protected] to schedule a free consultation with our experienced, caring, and compassionate legal team.

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