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There are many cues that can let you know that an animal is scared or frightened. There are cues that show one is friendly, excited or agitated. Knowing what to look for when you're approached by an animal can help you protect yourself and your family.

Any dog can bite depending on the circumstances. For instance, imagine being a dog that is harassed by children. At first, you might back away. Then, you might bark or growl to warn them to leave you alone. After that, you give a warning nip. When that doesn't work, it's time to bite.

There are instances where children or people are attacked because of the way they approach or treat an animal. Knowing to look for the signs of a distressed dog helps. For example, if the dog's tail is down between its legs and you can see its ears down, it may be scared or anxious. Anxious dogs also yawn often and may lick their lips. A tucked body posture should let you know that your dog, or someone else's, needs to get away from the present situation.

A low posture that allows you to see the whites of a dog's eyes can mean it's nervous. Stiff legs could show that it's uncomfortable. Ears pressed down and a tightly closed mouth may signify that the dog is uncomfortable, too. Happy, relaxed pets have open mouths, perky ears and relaxed postures. They may wag their tails, but that can also signify excitement.

It's never possible to predict everything a dog will do, but knowing these signs can help you prevent some dog bites. If you are bitten, the owner should be held liable for the animal's aggression.

Source: WRAL, "Beware of dog: Canine cues often precede bites, attacks," accessed July 05, 2017

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