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How to spot an aggressive dog at the shelter

Posted at 11:31 PM, Oct 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-08 10:24:00-04

After a woman was killed by a dog her family adopted from the Animal Foundation days earlier, 13 Action News turned to a dog trainer for tips on how to spot an aggressive dog before getting them home.

RELATED: Las Vegas woman dies in apparent dog mauling incident Monday

The key answer from Willie Harrell, who owns Off LeashK9 Training in Las Vegas, is make more than one trip to the shelter to visit the dog you are considering taking home.

"You can meet a dog the first day and he could love you and then the moment you take him out of the environment he is comfortable in he becomes something else," Harrell said.

Harrell has been training dogs for 18 years and says a lot depends on figuring out a dogs motivation for certain actions, but it can be good to get them out of the shelter yourself before making a permanent commitment.

"Ask if you can take him for a day out, take them to the park see how he reacts when he sees different things," Harrell said.

The important thing to watch on those visits is body language.

Harrell saying most aggressive dogs will show signs of tensing up or having the fur on their back stand up in uncomfortable situations.

He also says a dog putting its ears back or tail between its legs can be a sign of submission or aggression, so you have to determine what is triggering those behaviors.

Harrell also says researching the breed of the dog you plan to adopt is a critical factor so you understand their tendencies.