Dogs do not think the same way that people do. They perceive things differently than us and react to different things in different ways. We may recognize that the mail carrier is not a threat, but your dog may think they are an intruder. Identifying the signs of a threatened dog can help keep you safe.
Dog bites are more common than you may think, especially here in California. Postal workers have also taken extra training measures to protect themselves from dog bites. One of the critical steps in avoiding a bite is recognizing the signs of a threatened dog.
One of the most apparent signs of a threatened animal is snarling, snapping, or other methods of showing teeth. This behavior is not some form of smiling; it is the dog telling you that they do not want you around them. Respect their feelings, and slowly back away from a snarling dog.
Dogs show stress in different ways than people. For them, rapidly or frequently licking their lips, yawning, or avoiding eye contact are signs of a stressed dog. If you see a dog behaving this way, do not try to pet or otherwise engage with them.
When a dog is alert of what is around them, they may stand or sit rigidly and focus all of their attention on what they may see as a threat. Their fur along their back may also stand on end. These are signs of protection, rather than welcome.
The whites of their eyes
If a dog is uncertain of something, they may face another direction while still looking at it. These odd angles result in a white crescent appearing on the sides of their eyes. People confuse this look for an attempt of the dog looking cute, and wind up with a bite when they reach to pet the dog.
Talk to the owner
No one knows a dog better than its owner. If you are uncertain of a dog or how you should behave around it, talk to the owner. If you cannot find the owner, play it safe, and do not go near the dog.