How To Recognize And Avoid Aggressive Dogs

dog bites

People in the Streamwood area love their dogs, but unfortunately, some dogs are aggressive and bite humans. This is a common issue in the US, with approximately 4.7 million people bitten by dogs annually. If a dog has injured you, you could have legal options, so speak to our dog bite lawyers in Streamwood today for a consultation.

Dog Bite Laws In Illinois

In Illinois, dog owners are held strictly liable for injuries their dogs cause others. This means that you do not need to prove negligence by the dog owner to recover damages in a dog bite claim. This rule usually only applies when the injured person was not trespassing or provoking the animal.

On the other hand, suing someone successful in a car accident in Illinois requires you to prove another party was negligent. Illinois law also states that the dog owner is liable for damages caused when their dog chases, injures, or kills someone’s farm animals.

If someone’s dog in Illinois injures you, you have only two years from the date of injury to file a claim. The amount of time is different if the victim is under the age of 18 when they are bitten. Either way, acting quickly after the incident is essential to ensure your legal rights are protected.

Why Do Dogs Bite?

Most dogs do not bite because they are mean. Instead, many dogs bite out of fear, not aggression. Dogs feeling unsure, threatened, or challenged could bite in self-defense. Also, dogs that have not been spayed or neutered could be aggressive related to the sex drive.

Avoiding Aggressive Dogs

While you can often file a lawsuit if you are bitten by a dog in Illinois, it is best to avoid the situation. But how do you know that a dog may be aggressive and bite?

According to the ASPCA, ‘aggression’ in animals refers to many behaviors that happen for many reasons in many circumstances. Most wild animals are aggressive when they guard their territory or offspring. Animals that live in groups, such as dogs, may be aggressive to maintain peace and deal with situations they see as threatening.

When we say that a dog is aggressive, this can mean many things that often start with a warning and can turn into an attack. If a dog intends to act aggressively, there are usually several signs, including:

  • Standing rigid and still
  • Making a deep, threatening bark
  • Lunging at someone without making contact
  • Mouthing your hand but without applying pressure
  • Punching the person with their nose
  • Showing teeth
  • Growling
  • Blocking your path
  • Demanding attention
  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Guarding resources
  • Mouthing other dogs or people’s legs
  • Snapping
  • Making quick bites
  • Snarling
  • Biting with enough pressure to cause a bruise or wound

Dogs do not always go in the above sequence and could show several behaviors at once. In many cases, the dog owner does not recognize a warning sign before an attack happens, so they may view their dog as becoming suddenly aggressive. However, most dogs show signs just before they attack, so it is essential for both dog owners and the public to recognize the signs.

Types Of Dog Aggression

There are many kinds of dog aggression. The type of aggression depends on the motivation for the behavior, the context, and the target of the aggression. Some of the most common types of dog aggression are:

  • Territorial: Aggression that the dog directs towards a person or animal in their territory, which is often the owner’s property or home.
  • Possessive: Also called resource guarding, this is when the animal thinks an animal or dog will take away their toy or food.
  • Protective or maternal: Aggression toward an animal or person, often by a female protecting its offspring.
  • Pain-related: Aggression toward an animal or person is because of pain or discomfort.
  • Predatory: Aggression that may be directed toward a person or animal. It is usually because of a desire to kill, capture, or hunt. This aggression may be silent, and the bite could be severe.
  • Sexual: Aggression toward another dog related to mating behavior.
  • Fear: Aggression due to a dog that is afraid, which can happen if the dog feels trapped or cornered.

How To Not Approach A Dog You Do Not Know

When you see a dog you do not know, some actions and behaviors could make them more likely to act aggressively. Make sure you do not do the following:

  • Running towards a dog you do not know.
  • Getting on eye level with the dog and smiling. A dog that does not know you could think you are baring your teeth.
  • Sneaking up on a dog or startling him when he is asleep.
  • Ignoring a warning sign that the dog may act aggressively. If you see a dog bear its teeth or lunge at you, it is best to get away.
  • Touching a dog inappropriately. Dogs usually do not want their tails, ears, or feet pulled. Also, some do not want to be put on their backs; this is a submissive behavior, and the dog could lash out.

What To Do If A Dog Acts Aggressively

If you are in public and a dog acts aggressively towards you, do not panic. Instead, try the following tips:

  • Stay calm and still, and do not run. Most dogs can outrun people, so if you are alone, just back away slowly without turning your back.
  • Do not look the dog in the eye; this is a challenge and can make a dog act aggressively.
  • Do not smile because the dog could see this as baring your teeth.
  • Use a soft, soothing voice, and do not speak loudly.
  • If the dog bites, do not pull back. This will make the dog bite harder. Instead, stay calm and try to put something between you and the animal, such as a jacket, backpack, or purse.

If you are bitten, wash the wound with soap and water. When the bite is serious, such as deep or bleeding, call 911. After you are treated at the hospital, follow up with your regular doctor. Next, confirm if the dog has had its rabies vaccine and report the incident to the police. Then call SJ Injury Law at (847) 434-3555.

You also should talk to a personal injury attorney regarding your medical bills, lost earnings, and pain and suffering from the incident. The state of Illinois allows dog bite victims to sue the dog owner in some circumstances for their losses.

Are Some Dog Breeds More Aggressive?

Some dog breeds are believed to be more aggressive than others, if we rely on biting and aggression statistics. There are many reasons this can be the case. First, many dog breeds originally served certain functions for people. For example, some breeds were bred for their protective and guarding instincts. Others may have been raised to fight or guard property. While many dogs in these breeds are not used for such purposes today, they still have the DNA of their ancestors. So, some breeds can be more aggressive than others.

However, making assumptions about a dog based only on the breed is unwise. Different dogs have varying levels of temperament and may have different ways of interacting with other animals and people. Learning about dog breeds before you commit and buy or adopt a dog is essential, but the dog breed is not the only factor that makes a dog aggressive.

How To Treat Dog Aggression

If you have an aggressive dog, it is wise to work with a professional dog trainer to modify its behavior. Behavior modification will help the dog understand how to deal better with a stressful event, such as barking or lunging when it sees another dog. In this case, you could teach your dog to act differently by praising him when he sits calmly until the other dog is out of sight.

While behavior modification training can help to reduce aggression in dogs, it may not work entirely. For instance, a dog that is aggressive around children may not ever be able to be trusted unsupervised. In this case, the solution is to be sure the animal is never in contact with children alone.

Whatever the aggressive behavior is, getting help from a dog trainer sooner than later is best. It helps to address the aggression issue quickly so another person or dog is not hurt. Some ways to avoid aggression in your dog are:

  • Socialize your dog as early as possible. Dogs learn from other animals how to behave well. Training your dog with other dogs early on will help him learn how to act in acceptable ways.
  • Provide your dog will discipline and love. Loving your dog is not just about giving them bones and scratches. You also should train the dog, offer guidance, and correct them for undesirable behaviors. Talk to a professional dog trainer if you need help training your dog.

Contact Our Dog Bite Lawyers In Streamwood

If you or a loved one were bitten by a dog in the Chicago area, you do not have to put up with it and pay your own medical bills. You could be entitled to compensation. Contact our dog bite lawyers in Streamwood at SJ Injury Law. We can assist with your case, so call (847) 434-3555.

Personal Injury Lawyer Keith Schindler On Dog Bite Injuries

dog bite injury

Dog Bite Injuries

Good afternoon. This is Keith Shindler. Coming to talk to you today regarding injuries that are caused by dog bites. Thank you for listening to Claim Your Justice. Our goal is to provide information on how to help you deal with personal injury cases and claims that you, a family member, a friend, or a loved one may have.

The topic today is going to be dog bites. The weather is getting nice outside. We talked last week about motorcycles coming out when the weather gets nice. Well, everyone walks their dog, more people walk their dogs in the summer and springtime, and more people run with their dogs.

Throughout my career, I’ve handled several dog bite cases. I want to give some general information about dog bites, how to protect your rights, and how to make the best recovery for yourself if you are injured by a dog bite.

We all love dogs, right? We all think our dogs are gentle and so cute. However, we see dogs sometimes that we know are not so gentle. Dog bites can happen in many situations. It could happen when you’re walking your dog, it could happen while you’re visiting a friend who has a dog, you could get bitten by a dog while you are minding your own business at the beach, plus a number of other situations.

Dog Bite Attacks Happen All Over

I had a client that was bitten by a dog while trick or treating. Postal workers, of course, those civil servants who deliver our mail each day, and who we care about, sometimes get bitten by dogs. There was a study by the US postal worker service, that Chicago had the fourth-highest number of dog bites for postal workers. Not such an interesting statistic for Chicago, but they’re very common.

The damage that you could suffer as a result of a dog bite ranges vastly. I had a client that was a postal worker, she was bitten on the back of her leg and she had some scarring. I had a young child bitten while trick or treating on Halloween, they were left with a vicious scar. I had another client who suffered a dog bite while hanging out at her boyfriend’s house. He had a German shepherd, and it didn’t like the interaction between its owner and the visitor. She suffered a vicious dog bite to her face, requiring many stitches and having residual scarring.

We all know dangerous dogs, right? I think we’ve all seen dangerous dogs, whether it be a pit bull or a mastiff, etc. You have to be concerned about what happens in the awful situation where you do get a dog bite. Illinois is interesting because it has what is called a strict liability statute.

Illinois Strict Liability Statute

The strict liability statute means there are not too many defenses for the owner or caretaker of the dog being responsible for the injuries suffered by a victim. So, with this strict liability, if your dog gets out, or a dog you’re babysitting for gets out and bites somebody, you’re responsible, you’re strictly liable for the injuries suffered by the victim.

Of course, there are certain defenses to strict liability. If a victim was doing something to antagonize the dog, let’s say the victim was smacking the dog in the face. Let’s say the victim was pulling the dog’s tail. Let’s say the victim was kicking the dog, and the dog was responding to that type of agitation. That’s certainly a defense you will have to deal with. However, if you are just going about your business, and a dog bites you, strict liability is on the dog’s owner.

Insurance Often Doesn’t Cover Enough of the Damages

We talked about the type of injuries, and everyone may know someone who’s been bitten by a dog. The problem is sometimes the insurance is not sufficient. So, if you get bitten by a dog, and let’s say the owner of the dog lives in an apartment, generally the tenant would have what’s called tenant insurance and that would provide some level of liability coverage to the victim. It could be only $50,000. Which, I know, may seem like a lot of money. But it’s not.

Because you could have a permanent disfigurement that needs to be corrected by a plastic surgeon, you could have a fracture to your bone when you’re bitten by a dog, that can prevent you from moving your fingers, or moving your wrist, or your knee. The insurance, in my experience, is generally not enough to fully compensate the client for the value of the injury.

For your protection, if you’re a dog owner, and you’re concerned about protecting your assets, you should discuss with your insurance agent how much liability coverage you have in the event of a dog bite.

Intentional Attack Or Negligence

Now, certainly, if a person were to sick their dog on a person intentionally, there could be criminal liability, where the police come in and arrest the owner.

Or let’s say the owner doesn’t properly take care of their fence and allows the dogs to get out and roam, and a pack of animals attacks a little girl, G-d forbid. Then it’s possible the victim’s family could seek criminal charges. The homeowner may have had an incident previously. Or the homeowner may have had warnings that they need to properly contain their dogs, and didn’t. So, there can be criminal liability for that as well.

Sadly, sometimes a victim is bitten by a dog that is owned by a friend of theirs. The reaction we see frequently in those situations is “I don’t want to make a claim, I don’t want to call the police because then the dog is going to be put down”.

Now, I have a little bit of personal experience with that from many, many years ago. I understand. The fact of the matter is that I’m here to help you Claim Your Justice. If you don’t make the call to the animal control in the neighborhood, for a possibly vicious dog, you should be concerned about that dog attacking someone else. I always tell my clients I know you like your friends, family members, whatever, who own the dog, but it’s your responsibility to the community to make sure that the governmental agencies around that neighborhood are made aware that there could be a dangerous dog living there.

Housesitting Someone’s Dog

We talked a little bit about if you’re babysitting for a dog. Someone says, hey, I’m going out of town for the weekend. Can you please house sit my dog? You go to the person’s house, you sit there very comfortably, you may get free food, they’re paying you to stay there, etc. If you’re not doing your best to maintain the control of that animal, and the animal gets out and bites a postal worker or anyone, you as the babysitter could be responsible. The problem is, that you may not have insurance coverage for that particular loss. So be careful. Know what kind of dog you’re babysitting for, and make sure you properly control that dog with a leash.

Statute Of Limitations

Time Limits are, if it’s a normal incident, you have two years in Illinois to make a claim. If you have a child involved, you sometimes have a longer period because you have two years from the time the child reaches the age of majority. However, there is no reason to wait.

I’m telling you the technical applications of the law, but my recommendation is always to make sure you don’t waste time. Evidence spoils, other things happen where we could lose the opportunity to get important pictures or get the animal inspected for rabies. There is no reason to wait that amount of time if you’re going to make a claim and if you’re injured.

Compensation can include medical bills, and lost wages if it’s an adult and they are forced to miss work because of the dog bite. We talked about permanent disfigurement. It could just be a scar, or it could be that the animal bites so hard, that a person loses a hand or fingers on a hand or part of their face. And, it may require reconstructive surgery. We may require some type of device to replace the finger. There’s a myriad of damages that can be added on, depending upon the severity of a dog bite.

Contact Our Experienced Illinois Dog Bite Lawyers

Thank you for listening. Remember when you, a family member, or a friend suffers any type of injury, dog bite, auto accident, or wrongful death. Let us show you how to Claim Your Justice. Visit or call 847-434-3555, thank you for taking the time to listen.