Dog trainer urges people use caution around all dogs and stay aware of signs of aggression

A common sign of aggression includes a dog’s body stiffening or getting rigid.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A dog’s body language speaks volumes, and Andy Taylor is a trainer for aggressive dogs in Alcoa.

Taylor said parents should talk to their children about how to interact with dogs they don’t know.

“Body stiffen or get rigid, you can kind of forecast the fact that he’s uncomfortable by your presence. Don’t run from him — never run, because that will elicit what they call, ‘prey drive,'” Taylor said. “Not every dog is approachable, and not every dog needs to be petted.”

At Ridgeside, Taylor said trainers dissect the dogs’ behavior by going through some of the basic, impromptu information and discuss scenarios in which dogs may have shown aggressive tendencies. 

Justin McGoldrick works with Covenant Health as a medical affairs officer and has a background as an emergency physician. He said dog bites are pretty common, and the biggest concern is the aftermath.

“They’re pretty prevalent, and they make up about 90% of all animal attacks that occur actually — the other remaining 10% are commonly cat bites,” Taylor said. “The main problem with bites is not necessarily the rabies. It’s the trauma from the bite and then the risk of infection that can come from that.”

T. Scott Jones, an attorney, said each case is different when it comes to whether a dog owner is responsible for a dog attack. He said dog owners are not automatically liable if their pet attacks someone, but said facts surrounding the case can make owners liable.

“You are responsible for your animal, and if you are going to expect people to come on your property, say Amazon drivers, UPS drivers — then you have to be responsible for your animal,” Jones said. “You need to have a well-disciplined dog, a trained dog, and you need to recognize the first signs of aggression.”

Layla is one of the dogs Taylor is training for aggression. He said the first thing he does is gain her trust and then he tries to understand where her aggression is coming from. 

“What sort of aggression are we looking at — offensive, defensive, reactive, or fear aggression — and then we can address that and move forward,” Taylor said.

He said people, and especially children, should be cautious around all dogs.

“Don’t touch any dog,” Taylor said. “Unless the handler has said it’s okay for you to touch the dog.”

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