by Laura Pakis, Certified Professional Dog Trainer and Blogger
You’re out for a walk and an unleashed dog starts chasing you. Do you run? Scream at the dog? Smile and make eye contact?
Actually, none of those things, says Adam Goldfarb, director of the Pets at Risk Program for the Humane Society of the United States.
Dogs bite 4.5 million Americans each year, and about one in five victims suffer severe enough injuries to require medical attention. Young children are at the greatest risk according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Senior citizens and mail carriers are also common victims. In fact dog attacks on postal workers rose last year to 6,755, up 206 from the previous year and the highest in three decades.
So how do you avoid being bitten.
Stay Calm, Move Slowly and Appear Nonthreatening:
Dogs love to chase and catch things–and you don’t want to spark that urge. If you’re out walking and a dog starts running after you, stop moving. Then remain still or back away slowly until the dog is out of sight. Avoid eye contact, because “a stare can be seen as threatening or intimidating,” Goldfarb says. He also suggests turning sideways “because it makes you look smaller to a dog and less threatening.” Don’t scream or give the dog a reason to become excited or aggressive.
Prepare Your Kids:
Thousands of children are treated every year for dog bites. Most of the bites involve young children interacting with their dog in everyday activities. Teach your children not to hug or kiss the family dog on the face, a common cause of bites to the face. Instead, instruct your child where to scratch the dog; either on the chest or the side of the neck. Acme Canine offers a coloring book in English to help educate children about interacting safely with dogs and avoiding dog bites that can be downloaded from our membership page.
If Attacked, Distract:
Try to be still and not scream. Put something between you and the dog. Get on the other side of a car or “feed” the dog your backpack, purse, whatever you can find. This will distract the animal and create a barrier between you and it while you try to get away safely.
If you fall or are knocked down, curl up in a fetal position, squeeze your hands into fists and put them over your face and your ears.
Use common sense. Don’t reach out and pet a dog you don’t know. In addtion, never reach through a fence to pet a dog.
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