Under certain conditions, gentle and normally loving dogs could go on the attack without any provocation. When an animal hears a loud noise, becomes ill or feels an owner’s anxiety, it could react with a sudden and unexpected act of aggression.

Under Illinois’ strict liability law, an injured party could hold a dog’s owner responsible for an unexpected attack. The courts do not require proof that an individual first provoked an animal or acted in a way that caused it to bite.

Canine anxiety

Owners taking their dogs outside to walk or play in the park may not recognize the signs of their animal experiencing anxiety. Stopping to socialize with another individual while walking a dog, however, may result in a nervous pet going on an unforeseen attack.

As reported by Reader’s Digest, anxious dogs respond to stimuli, which could also reflect their genetics or a prior episode of abuse. An animal’s current owner may not have knowledge or awareness of a dog’s upbringing, and unwittingly encourage children to pet it.

Signs of a nervous animal

Dogs experiencing distress tend to lick their lips, pace, whine and pant. Restlessness and heavy barking may indicate that an animal requires veterinary attention. While its owner may have trained a dog to socialize, a sudden response to an anxiety-provoking environmental stimulus may cause it to act out in aggression.

Scratches and bites from dogs require medical treatment because their saliva may contain harmful bacteria. If canine teeth puncture human skin, the bitten individual’s blood may have exposure to at least 700 variations of bacteria, as reported by USA Today.

Holding a dog’s owner liable for medical expenses and lost wages after an attack may require a legal action.