Dog behavior expert: Why family dogs attack - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Dog behavior expert: Why family dogs attack

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Angie Wood/Dog Psychology 101 Angie Wood/Dog Psychology 101
ATLANTA (CBS ATLANTA) -

A dog named Bumper at U.S. Canine in Buford barked and retreated in fear when our camera got too close. Dog expert Angie Woods said that happens a lot when dogs don't like or know how to respond to certain situations, things or children.

"It's almost always a nervous situation. When a dog retreats, backs up, puts their ears back, shows you fear or hesitation to a child, that should be a red flag," Woods said. "They are communicating to you they're not comfortable."

Woods was not as surprised, as some, to hear a family's pet of eight years in Fulton County attacked and killed their 2-year-old child.

"One question for me, was he socialized with children early on? Was he acclimated to them or was he nervous about them?" Woods said. "This is not a breed-specific problem, so I don't want people to think anti-pit bull dog sentiments."

Woods has been around dogs all her life. She said they are part of her DNA.

"My official training is in veterinary medicine, I spent 17 years in veterinary medicine. I really love to focus on the behavior side," Woods said.

Even with her experience, under no circumstance would Woods leave a child alone with one of her beloved four-legged friends.

"All dogs have teeth, any dog can bite. A child could just fall on a dog and an accidental bite could occur," Woods said. "We must never leave our children alone with a dog, no matter how much we trust them."

Victoria Stilwell is a dog behavior consultant. Her show It's Me or the Dog aired on Animal Planet for eight years.

"I help families live in harmony with their dogs," Stilwell said.

Stilwell said many things could have triggered the family's dog to attack.

"Why now with just a 2-year old kid? Two-year old kids aren't really in control of themselves. You don't know if that kid fell over the dog, the dog was asleep, startled woke up and bit," Stilwell said.

Stilwell hopes those questions are answered before the dog is put down.

"It's so important that a case like this is properly investigated not just by the sheriff's department, but buy by people known as forensics K-9 bite investigators," Stilwell said.

Stilwell said the answer as to why the attack happened can be found with the family and their dog.

"It depends on bite placement, the history of this dog, interviewing the family and interviewing the neighbors," said Stilwell. "What happened before and just after the bite? We can get information about why."

While some might think this attack is breed specific, Stilwell said it's not. Some dogs do feel uncomfortable around children.

"Teach your child how to be around dogs. Keep your toddler or infant away from the dog. Always be there to actively supervise any interaction between them," Stilwell said.

Copyright 2013 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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