Pain/illness.
Dogs who are suffering from illness or injury tend to have much lower bite thresholds.
If a dog is hit by a car or otherwise wounded, and you are providing first aid or attempting to relocate the dog--expect him to lash out at you. This is the natural instinct of any wounded animal.
Starving dogs will be more possessive of food. Dogs with uncomfortable parasites, an abscessed tooth, etc will be much less tolerant of the baby climbing over his stomach. Common sense applies.

Excitement/sensory overload.
Breaking up a dog fight is likely to get you bitten. In the heat of the moment, the dog probably doesn't even know it's you (or is too excited to care). In moments of extreme anxiety or frustration, dogs--much like humans!--may also redirect their anger onto the nearest bystander.

Prey drive.
Dogs, being predators, are drawn to quick movements (some dogs more so than others).  A jogger, bicycle, or running child may trigger the urge to chase--and perhaps even catch or bite--the moving object.  This is another reason why dogs should NEVER be allowed to run loose unattended.

Surprise.
Suddenly waking (or tripping over!) a sleeping dog, yanking the collar of an unsuspecting dog, dropping a heavy object on the dog, etc can provoke a startle response/bite--although the act may be accidental on the person's part, in his surprise or confusion the dog may snap at you before he even realizes what he's done. (This dog will normally apologize profusely an instant later.)

Doesn't know his own strength.
Occasionally, a dog will hurt someone in play--especially if the game has gotten very rowdy or the dog had never learned good bite inhibition.
However, the most serious risk in this category is
infants, especially in the first two months after they arrive. Many dogs do not recognize the infant as a "little person", and will attempt to pick up, play with, or otherwise investigate the "new thing"...which can result in a fatal mauling. It cannot be stressed enough: NEVER, ever leave infants or small children alone with ANY dog.

Poor social skills.
Some dogs have never been around strangers or other dogs, and simply have no idea how to act. Abused animals may have a whole repertoire of inappropriate behaviours they learned while living with their abuser. Owners need to keep this in mind when retraining or socializing the dog. Canine social interaction, to a large degree, is *learned* behaviour.

*Dogs do not learn to bite overnight. Bad behaviour is shaped over time, by letting small offences slide until they explode into something that FINALLY gets everyone's attention. For an excellent explanation of this that may help you bridge the "species gap", visit this link from NewAnimalControl.org. (While you're at it, check out some of his other thoughtful articles on the failure of the system, and why so many dogs are needlessly euthanised every year.)


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YOU, as the owner, are 100% responsible for your dog's actions.
How to prevent YOUR dog from biting:

-
Train him.

-
Learn to speak Dog.

-Be a good leader/Alpha figure.

-CONTAIN YOUR DOG!
(Dogs should always be indoors, safely fenced, or with the owner.)

-Keep him in good health.

-
NEUTER him (or spay her).

-If possible, socialize him around people and other dogs, especially when he is young. Try to make sure every experience is a positive one.

-Don't ever put him into a situation where he could be stressed or afraid to the point of biting, yet still have access to other people.

How to avoid being bitten by someone else's dog:

-Do not approach other people's dogs without permission.

-Be aware of dogs on other people's property, particularly chained or free-roaming dogs.

-Exercise special caution around mother dogs with pups, or intact males around females in heat.

-If you see a loose dog, do not run...this may trigger him to chase you.

-Do not stare at strange dogs.

-Never reach over the top of a dog to pat his head. NEVER hug a strange dog.

-Be aware of where your children are, what they are doing, and whether they have access to dogs. Children are the most common dog bite victims, and should not be allowed unsupervised interaction with dogs, especially dogs who were not raised with the child.


*If challenged by a dog:
Be still.
Do not completely turn your back--keep him in your field of vision, but do not make direct eye contact.
Keep your arms at your sides and try to appear non-threatening. Don't smile (too similar to a snarl).
Slowly scan for the dog's owner, to call him off.
Some dogs will respond to calm, assertive commands, such as "go home"--but this carries risk because addressing him can also seem like a challenge to the wrong dog.
Wait for the dog to leave first; if he doesn't, move away slowly and calmly.
If the dog actually attacks, close your fists, curl into a ball, and don't move. Cover your head and neck. If bitten, do not pull away (it encourages the dog to continue, and does more tissue damage). If your fist is already in his mouth, force it down the dog's throat to gag him.


Further reading:
Fatal Dog Attacks--the Stories Behind the Statistics. Well worth a read for anyone serious about preventing dog bites, this book goes into the most important facts in any dog bite case--the circumstances under which the dog bit! (Most news stories focus only on the personal details of the humans involved...and perhaps the breed of dog, if it has sensationalistic appeal.

Raising Safe Dogs

Breed Specific Legislation (BSL)...and why it cannot solve the aggressive dog problem in America.

A dog bite "epidemic"?  Hardly.


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