Anyone who works outdoors or walks, jogs or bikes has probably had a heart-pounding encounter with an aggressive dog. And more than five million people in North America find themselves on the receiving end of a dog bite each year.
There’s no guaranteed way of preventing an attack, but a little knowledge on what you should and shouldn’t do around dogs can spell the difference between “scare” and “terror.” Share this information with your workers.
Why do Dogs Attack?
Dogs attack people for many reasons. They may be frightened or disturbed by your presence or possessive of their owners or their owners’ property. This is especially true of dogs that are chained up or left inside vehicles.
It’s also easy to startle a dog that is sleeping, nursing her pups or eating, prompting an attack.
Signs that a Dog May be Ready to Attack
Some dog attacks come out of the blue, but in many others there are warning signs, such as these:
Barking, snarling or growling Raised fur or hackles Body stiffening Dog holding head low or crouching its body A high tail or tail between legs Ears standing up
What Not to Do Around an Aggressive Dog
If an aggressive dog approaches you, do not try to scare it away by yelling. Doing so may frighten the dog into attacking you. However, saying, “Good boy, go home” may prevent an attack.
Never try to run away from an aggressive dog. He can easily outrun you and is very likely to attack.
What Should I Do?
Stand completely still with your hands by your sides. Do not make eye contact with the dog, since it may interpret eye contact as a challenge.
If you remain still, the dog may lose interest in you and you may be able to back away SLOWLY. But never turn your back on the dog.
Should the dog attack, firmly saying “no”, “stop” or “sit” may buy you some time. If the attack proceeds, feed the dog anything but yourself. Let it take your jacket or purse, or use a chair or other object to keep some space between the animal and yourself. If you carry pepper spray or an expandable baton, use it.
If you have no weapon or object that can be placed between you and the dog, kicking the dog hard in the muzzle or jamming your fingers into its eyes, cruel as it sounds, may stop an attack.
If the dog knocks you down, curl yourself into a ball with the vulnerable parts of your body on the ground and your hands over your face and neck. Try to stay as still as possible. Yell for help.
If you walk or work in places where you might encounter strange dogs, carry something to protect yourself, such as pepper spray or a baton, and a whistle.