How California residents can deal with dog aggression

California dog owners should know what to do when handling aggression to reduce their chances of being hit with a lawsuit.

Having a dog can be quite a rewarding, entertaining and satisfying experience, but there are instances where owning a dog can lead to legal issues. California owners who have aggressive dogs have to take steps to properly deal with that aggression, otherwise, they might find themselves on the receiving end of a lawsuit.

Determine the root cause of the aggression

One of the first steps in dealing with dog aggression is to figure out the trigger. Just like humans have certain triggers that cause an emotional reaction, the same is true of dogs who have had bad past experiences. Abuse and neglect are two reasons dogs might act aggressively, and owners should be sure to ask about a dog's past before taking her or him home.

Besides past experiences, dogs can also become aggressive if they are not used to being around other dogs or if they had a bad past encounter with a dog. Additional potential triggers for aggression include painful medication conditions, owner behavior, "pack status" and fear. Once the trigger has been identified, rehabilitation can begin.

Know the signs of aggression

Signs of aggression might be mistaken for regular canine behavior, and this can lead to a disaster if the owner is not aware her or his dog is being aggressive rather than just being playful. Freezing up, using the nose to punch a person or another dog, showing teeth and guttural barking are just a few examples of threatening behavior. One thing to bear in mind is that dogs usually display some type of warning before biting. Owners should pay close attention to how their dog reacts around other people and dogs.

Identify whom your dog is aggressive towards

Dog owners should also make themselves aware of the individuals around whom their pet becomes agitated. Most dogs display aggressive behavior towards strangers, so owners might want to kennel them or restrict them to a single room when having company over. Dogs might also become agitated around children, and this can be especially problematic because kids might not realize a dog is being threatening. Once owners have a solid idea of the category of people or dogs their pet feels threatened by, they can determine ways to mitigate risk.

Recognize risk factors

There are certain risk factors associated with aggressive dogs that can serve as an indication as to whether they will bite someone or another dog. For instance, larger dogs commonly do more damage than smaller dogs, and older dogs are often harder to train than younger dogs. Canines that bite without warning are also more problematic than those that give warning before striking.

While the above tips can help prevent a dog bite, there are no guarantees. Anyone in California who suffers from a dog bite should be sure to work with a knowledgeable attorney to explore their legal options.