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What does provoking a dog look like?

After a dog bites someone, there can be two sides to the story: the victim's and the dog owner's. Often, the owner claims that the victim provoked the dog, while the victim denies he or she did anything wrong.

Determining whether someone provoked an animal before a biting or attack incident can be more complicated than people might think. This is especially true when the victim is a child and does not understand how his or her actions might affect a dog. However, because establishing whether there was provocation is important for many reasons, we explain what provocation might look like below.

As this article explains, provocation involves a situation or action that encourages, provokes or incites a dog to bite someone. It can also be actions that excite a dog or cause it to feel defensive, regardless of a person's intent.

However, because dogs vary in their responses to stimuli, an act that provokes one dog won't necessarily provoke another. That said, some general examples of provocation include:

  • Pulling away a dog's food
  • Hitting the dog
  • Chasing a dog
  • Making threatening gestures to the dog
  • Screaming at the dog
  • Visually challenging a dog by staring at it
  • Rough-housing or wrestling with a dog

Again, though, not all dogs respond in the same way to these and other actions. And there may be actions similar to these that were not intended to provoke. As such, provocation is typically determined on a case-by-case basis.

With that in mind, understand that assessing whether someone provoked an animal before an attack can be crucial in determining liability and what will happen to the dog. Therefore, it can be wise to discuss the events leading up to a dog bite with an attorney who can inform victims and their families of their rights and legal options.

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