Dog Safety Tips for You

This is going to be a “reverse” article, usually I am talking about keeping your dog or cat safe, however, today I am going to talk about your safety.

Animal lovers seem to have buried deep inside their brains that just because they love all animals, the animals should know it and love them in return.

T’aint so!

Many a person, adult and child have been bitten because they approached a “friendly” dog.

Dog bites can be painful and under normal circumstances can be avoided by being a little careful.

In today’s society as we run about doing our errands, it is not uncommon to see a dog tethered to a stationary pole or some other solid object.

The dog looks friendly, seems very patient as it waits for its owner and it looks so cute. You have this sudden urge to give it a pet. Don’t!

Why not, you ask?

First of all you are a stranger, the dog may have been trained to be wary of strangers.

The dog may also feel threatened or scared, as it knows it cannot go anywhere and its first reaction is to protect itself.

Wagging tails are not always a sign of welcome, some dogs wag their tails even when feeling aggressive.

If the owner is not about, curb the urge and go about your business.

This applies to a dog tied up in its yard, too.

If the owner is not present do not approach the dog.

This next safety precaution, I have not followed myself. How many times have you met someone walking down the street with their dog on a leash and you just had to go over and pet it.

I admit I have been very lucky, though there has been a time or two where things could have turned out differently.

Always, yes always, ask if the dog is friendly and if the owner says yes, still ask for permission to pet it. Consider any moment of hesitation as a hint that the dog might not be “that friendly,” smile and say “maybe next time.”

If the dog is friendly and you can approach it, let the dog come to you. Crouching down to the dog’s size and talking in your dog voice is good approach, offer your hand with your fist closed. Open hands can suggest a slap or hit, also it is harder to grab if the dog, has a change of heart intends to bite as an after thought.

I have read that you should never pet a strange dog on the top of the head, as your approach could be misunderstood as a sign of attack. A scratch under the chin or on the chest is a better method to use. Also, do not stare into a strange dog’s eyes, that too, is considered an act of aggression by some dogs.

A dog off, leash even with the owner close by, is not a good choice to approach, even if it is wagging its tail and smiling. The urge is hard to resist, but one never knows what sort of movement will trigger a bad reaction from the dog. The best approach is a friendly voice, a smile and walk on.

A free roaming dog that is not familiar to you is best left alone and completely ignored if at all possible. There is no way to know the temperament of the dog, whether it is friendly or aggressive, as body language does not always give you the true sign.

According to the Humane Society of the United States, if you are approached by a dog that you believe is aggressive, follow these suggestions:

  • keep your hands to your sides
  • Never scream or run
  • Once the dog loses interest in you, back away slowly until the dog is out of sight
  • If you are attacked “feed” the dog your purse, your jacket, bicycle or anything you can put between you and the dog. Don’t try physical force or any confrontation, that will only make the dog angrier.
  • If you fall or are knocked over, curl into a ball as quickly as possible. Tuck your head down and elbows firmly in and clasp your hands together over the back of your neck; this protects your neck, face and abdomen. Do not scream or roll around. Remain motionless and play dead until help arrives or the dog moves on.

    If you are bitten wash the wound with soap and water and seek medical attention at once. Report the dog bites and the dog to your local animal control agency. Try to remember everything you can about the dog, its color, where you saw him, the direction it went and if you had ever seen it before.

    It has not been my intention to scare anyone about dogs, but to remind you that not all dogs are friendly. Sometimes we as humans, put ourselves in a position to get hurt unintentionally.

    As someone wise once said (me): “It is best to stay on the side of caution than to get your arm bit off.”

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