"At this level, the red warning flag needs to go up."
©Scott Sheaffer, CDBC, CPDT-KA, USA Dog Behavior, LLC
Dog behavior specialists and behaviorists use a scale when assessing dog bites. This is essential when diagnosing aggression issues and providing a prognosis.
There are many scales, but the one that is most commonly used is Dr. Ian Dunbar's Dog Bite Scale. Below are the 6 categories with my notes.
Level 1 Bite - Aggressive behavior with no skin contact by teeth. This is normally a dog that is trying to simply scare a dog or human so that he or she will just go away.
Level 2 Bite - Skin-contact by teeth but no skin-puncture. This doggie is a little more serious about his aggression. He is willing to take it a step further to let you know that he doesn't want you there.
Level 1 and 2 bites make up 99% of more of dog bite incidents. These dogs are most likely not seriously dangerous and the prognosis for their behavioral issues is good with proper treatment.
Level 3 Bite - One to four tooth punctures from a single bite with no puncture deeper than half the length of the dog’s canine teeth. At this point, the dog can present a threat to other people and animals. The majority of my aggression cases fall into this level.
Level 4 Bite - One to four punctures from a single bite with at least one puncture deeper than half the length of the dog’s canine teeth. The person or dog bitten may also have deep bruising around the wound or wounds from the dog shaking its head from side to side. At this level, the red warning flag needs to go up. The dog needs to be kept away from people and other animals until the situation can be assessed by a professional.
Level 5 Bite - Multiple level 4 bites and/or multiple attacks. This dog is not safe around people or other animals. Prognosis is poor. Many behavior specialists and behaviorists recommend euthanasia because of the danger to others and the poor quality of life the dog would have in solitary confinement.
Level 6 Bite - The victim (animal or human) is killed in the attack. Fortunately, this is extremely rare.
Always see a professional who specializes in aggression if you have a dog presenting with aggressive behaviors. The sooner you intervene the better the prognosis.