All dogs, regardless of size or breed, are capable of biting. But through their behaviour, dogs will often warn before they bite. Learning the warning signs and how to approach a dog safely will help prevent many of these bites from happening.
Pet owners are responsible for controlling their dog at all times - even in off-leash dog parks.
A dog will almost always warn through body language that they are beginning to get anxious and uncomfortable and may bite. These early warning signs mean we should STOP what we’re doing. These are commonly called ‘calming signals’.
Nervous, Fearful or Stressed Dogs
Some early warning signs a dog is becoming stressed include:
Blinking fast and/or looking away
Ears held back
Alert dogs may be in a situation where they are interested in something but are undecided on how to react. Depending on the situation, they may decide to react in playfulness, fear or aggression. These signals could include:
When dogs continue to feel anxious and their ‘calming signals’ have been ignored, they may bite or send further signals to show they’re anxious. They may be acting defensively or offensively. Either way, they are clearly saying “Back away from me” and may bite at any time. They may begin to growl, grow tense and show other aggression signs including
Wrinkled muzzle, lip curl or baring teeth
Dogs at their best typically have a loose body posture, open mouths, relaxed or forward ears, a neutral tail and soft eyes.
Give the dog something to bite like a purse, bag, backpack or jacket.
Put a barrier between you and the dog such as a bike, table or tree.
If you fall or are knocked to the ground, lay face down and protect your head and ears.
If you’re chased while on a bike, get off the bike and keep it between you and the dog.
Report a Dog Bite
To report a dog attack or bite (major or minor), contact the Animal Care & Control Centre through 311. The following information is useful:
date, time and place of the incident
list of injuries sustained in the attack
information about the dog (breed, size, colour, features) and its owner
order of events
contact information of other witnesses
Legal disclaimer: Every dog is unique and may show muted, different or additional warning signs than those presented on this website. Any interaction with a dog is done so at your own risk and the City does not take any responsibility or take on any liability for what occurs during that interaction. The City does not guarantee the completeness of any information on this website. This website may include inaccuracies or typographical errors and the information is provided without warranty or condition of any kind. Please contact a dog training expert for more information on dog bite prevention.