7 Warning Signs of Canine Aggression

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Dogs growl or snap to express their discomfort. If your dog does this, give them some space and look for potential triggers. Manage and work on behavior modification.

1. Growling and Snapping

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2. Wagging Tail

Surprising symptom: the dog wags its tail before biting.  Examine tail position: a high and quick wag may indicate an impending bite, whereas a happy wag involves the entire body.


The dog's raised hackles indicate fear/stimulation. Hair on the back/neck/tail stands up. It's a warning sign to back off. 

 3. Raised Fur

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4. Rigid Body Posture

A dog's body language changes when he or she is about to be aggressive: stiff body, raised ears, and tail.  If you reach out to pet them and they freeze, it's time to back up.


A dog is uncomfortable if they are licking their lips, yawning, or avoiding eye contact. Dogs who are stressed are more likely to bite, so try to alleviate their discomfort.

5. Lip Licking, Yawning and Averting Gaze

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6. Cowering and Tail Tucking

Lip licking/yawning doesn't show fear like cowering and tail tucking do.  If you encounter a fearful dog, back off and let them approach you. Fear increases the likelihood of biting.


Dog trainers call it "whale eye" when the dog moves its head but not its eyes. This shows the whites of the eyes (sclera). A sign of worry, but not always biting. Give them room to calm down.

7. Seeing the Whites of the Eyes

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