Warning Signs for Dangerous Dogs

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Knoxville (WVLT) -- Investigators say the woman attacked and killed by two pit bulls on Monday lived in a home with the dogs and their owner.

So, how can you tell if your own dog or a neighborhood dog is becoming aggressive and could attack?

Volunteer TV's Kim Bedford spoke with some trainers about what warning signs you should look out for.

Many people have a natural tendency to believe all dogs are friendly, but as you know, that is not the case.

So, it's important you know how to recognize an aggressive dog before it's too late.

Diane Richards works with dogs every day at her West Knoxville Canine School of Charm.

Richards says looking closely at a dog can tell you a lot about its temperament.

"Body language and eyeballs. They'll tell you everything," said Richards.

The first warning sign is a dog's direct eye contact.

"It just stares at you and it doesn't drop or turn its head, then that right there tells me, hey, it's something to watch out for," she said.

Then, check out at its overall body language.

"He'd be stiff as a board and his nubb would be straight up in the air."

Richards says any signs of possessive behavior could easily lead to aggression.

"If they're possessive of their food or they're a resource guarder. What that means is they get a toy or something and that's their toy. You can't take it away without them trying to bite you or growl," she said.

Richards says aggressive dogs most likely haven't been exposed to different people or animals.

"Has the dog been socialized really well with people, adults, older people, children," said Richards.

"They need to be well aware of the type of dog they have and their tendencies," said Marcy Souza, a Veterinarian at the University of Tennessee.

Dr. Souza says just under five million dog bites occur every year in the United States.

"If they're not treated properly, if they're abused, if they're left outside chained and they're pretty much not given any attention, I think pretty much any dog certainly could become aggressive," said Dr. Souza.

If you have a dog that's already showing aggressive signs, Richards says there's really only one thing you can do.

"Definitely go to a professional if they want to keep the dog and they don't want a lawsuit waiting to happen," said Richards.

Another reminder is to never get in the middle of a dog fight.

Dr. Souza says dogs often don't realize they're biting their owners when they're caught up in a fight.