Being in a situation with a scary aggressive dog can be really frightening and the trauma can affect people long term, both mentally and physically.
In Australia, there is an increase in dog bites, and the dogs that bite are usually family dogs. Dogs are not more aggressive now than they were five, ten or twenty years ago. The nature of how people interact with dogs has changed. And with more home delivery and care services there are more strangers interacting with dogs now than in the past.
So, how can you prevent getting bitten?
WATCH and LISTEN
Dogs have evolved over thousands of years to read body language. They look for little cues or signals from you to predict what will happen. These cues may indicate food is coming or that you may be invading their personal space or taking something that they want to protect .
Since dogs are a nonverbal species, and their form of communication is through body language it will help if you can learn to read them and get some information of how they are feeling. Anything missed, may cause a dog to react badly.
When a dog is feeling worried or scared there is a higher chance of it biting at whatever it is frightened of. Worry and fear develop when unfamiliar or unpredictable experiences occur. We can reduce the worry and fear with some simple techniques…
1. Take your time:
Any time you approach an unfamiliar dog, slow down and relax your body. If you can’t ask the unfamiliar dog to be restrained or removed, and do not approach the dog.
2. Observe the dog’s body language
Do you know the signs of relaxed body language compared to worried body language? We take it for granted that we should. But signs can be subtle and some dogs can surprise us. If you don’t then take The Course in Dog Bite Prevention to learn and feel safer when you see a dog.
3. Give the dog space
Let it be the dog’s choice to approach or distance itself from you. Of course if the dog is aggressive or charging yourself – protect yourself by putting something between you and the dog.
4. Avoid reaching out to an unfamiliar dog
Dogs have a great sense of smell. You do not need to put out your hand and let it sniff you. Believe it or not a dog can smell you from quite a distance. Putting your hand out if a dog is worried, may suggest to the dog that you are invading its space and it may choose to bite, rather than put distance between you. Don’t worry – the dog can smell you without putting your hand out.
5. If you feel uncomfortable around a dog:
- Do not enter the property.
- Ask the owner to remove or restrain the dog.
- Do not turn your back on the dog.
You can understand what a dog is trying to tell you with their body language, then interacting with dogs can be safer. You can find out more in The Course in Dog Bite Prevention.