Triggers: Why Do Dogs Attack and Bite? | Scott Goodwin Law

Triggers: Why Do Dogs Attack and Bite?

by / Monday, 03 September 2018 / Published in Dog Bites
Dog with human hand in its mouth

When dogs bite, one of the biggest questions victims have on their mind is “Why did this happen?” Owners of the dog involved often find themselves wondering the same thing. No dog owner ever wants to think that their beloved pet could seriously hurt someone, but every year, hundreds of thousands of people need medical treatment for dog bites.

No matter what breed a dog is or what size it is, all dogs have the potential to bite or attack under certain circumstances. But even when a dog bite seems to happen without warning, there is almost always a reason behind it. For dog owners, it’s important to understand some of the reasons behind why dogs bite because when you know why dogs bite, you’re better able to protect others from being hurt.

Why Do Dogs Bite?


One of the most common reasons why a dog might bite, particularly if it’s normally a friendly and well-behaved dog, is because it’s sick or in pain and wants to be left alone. If you’re the owner of a dog who is sick or injured, it’s very important to let visitors know about that fact so they know to leave your pet alone. Better yet, make sure your dog is kept in an area of the house where it can rest without being disturbed by visitors.

They’re Feeling Protective

Dogs can be pretty territorial creatures. While some dogs might get hung up on protecting the house they live in, others might get very protective of their toys, their bed, their food dish, or even their owners. When a dog feels like something is posing a threat to something they care about, it’s not uncommon for them to start getting aggressive. Dog owners can prevent this kind of aggression by taking steps to help the dog understand that it’s OK to let go of these sorts of things. For example, teaching a dog the “leave it” command can be helpful in controlling toy aggression.

Another reason why a normally friendly dog might attack is if they are taking care of puppies. If a dog has recently given birth, it’s best to keep unnecessary visitors away. Young children in particular should not be left unsupervised with a dog who is taking care of puppies.


Much like humans, dogs can often feel stressed out and uncomfortable when they’re in unusual situations. Maybe they’re in a place they’ve never been before or they’re around people and dogs they’ve never met. Socialization is very important in helping young dogs learn how to react to new people, dogs, and situations. Just remember to ease them into new situations as much as possible. For example, if your dog has never been to a dog park before, don’t bring it at a time when the park is very crowded.  However, there are times when a well-socialized dog might still be afraid in an environment. If you can tell your dog is uncomfortable or nervous, remove it from the situation right away.

Contact a Michigan Dog Bite Lawyer

Regardless of why you were bitten or attacked by a dog, it’s important to remember that in Michigan, the dog’s owner is almost always liable. Michigan has a strict liability dog bite law, which means that if a dog bites and attacks someone without provocation, and the victim wasn’t trespassing at the time of the attack, the dog’s owner is responsible for any injuries, even if the dog doesn’t have a history of aggressive behavior. If you’ve been injured by a dog, be sure to contact a dog bite lawyer as soon as possible to find out what your legal options are.

If you’ve been injured by a dog, be sure to contact a dog bite lawyer as soon as possible to find out what your legal options are. At Goodwin & Scieszka, we have decades of experience helping Michigan dog bite victims get the compensation they need for their medical treatment and recovery. Contact us today to find out how we can help.