Tips for people to stay safe around dogs – Recent news has revealed that dog attacks have increased in the last five years, with Royal Mail announcing 1,673 dog attacks reported on their staff last year.
With the safety of citizens and your dogs in mind, Claims.co.uk have teamed up with dog experts around the UK to provide tips for staying safe amid the rise in dog attacks.
Tips for people to stay safe around dogs:
Use the Pat, Pet, Pause approach
“Respect a dog’s right to consent, and always teach your child to respect consent” suggests dog trainer Meg Marrs.
One way to do that is using the Pat, Pet, Pause technique. “Start out patting your leg to invite the dog to approach. If they approach, proceed to petthem. After a few seconds, pause and wait for their response – if the dog indicates they want the petting to proceed, go for it! If they move away or do nothing, we can take that as a “no.”
Use calm body language
“If you are close to an aggressive dog, monitor your body language and avoid anything aggressive or combative towards an owner, e.g. sudden sharp movements”, suggests vet Thomas Doyne.
He also doesn’t recommend “anything that could make the dog anxious or worried – for example, making direct eye contact is generally seen as a threat and so could make a dog feel nervous and heighten the chances of an attack.”
Give them space
“The best thing to do when around a potentially unsafe dog is to give them plenty of space and keep an eye on their body language. They give off signals that indicate when they are feeling nervous or uncomfortable.” – Meg Marrs.
“Many dogs are territorial so be aware that by stepping into their territory a dog can be triggered into aggression. Avoid stepping into any dog’s territory.” – Paola Cuveas.
Don’t bribe them with food
“Do not use food to bribe a dog into your space. What commonly happens is a dog might be motivated by the treats even if scared, but once they’ve eaten them they feel vulnerable again and can resort back to aggressive behaviour.” – Eva Tang.
Tips for dog owners to keep their dogs safe:
Train puppies for at least two years
“Many owners only do a short puppy class, if any, when they first get their dog, however, they continue to learn and develop for the first 2 years of their lives. Stopping training so soon lulls the owner into complacency – adolescent dogs need continuing coaching and socialisation if they are to become trusted adults.” – Jo Sellers.
If you get a dog that isn’t under two, we would still advise seeking training to help you coach them and build trust.
Use prevention measures for safety
“If you think your dog might be aggressive, muzzle condition them. They have gotten a bad rap over the years, but it’s one of the best tools to create peace of mind and safety for everyone” suggests Eva Tang, dog trainer.
Eva also advises “staying away from dog parks — you don’t know those dogs, or how much control the owners have of them. Getting attacked can create a heightened defensiveness in your dog, so try to socialise only with dogs that you know.”
Learn and understand your dog’s body language
“Dogs tell us when they are happy, stressed, or annoyed. Not knowing the subtle signs can cause aggressive behaviour. Be aware of what your dog is trying to say, and don’t force them into situations they cannot handle” advises dog trainer Jo Sellers.
She also suggests “interactions with children should always be supervised, as children find it hard to read their body language.”
Check for any underlying health conditions
“Pain can cause more aggressive responses. If your dog has recently changed their behaviour, then they need to be checked by the vet – most often, if something is identified and treated, then they’ll be back to their normal selves.” – Jo Sellers
In the unfortunate case that you are bitten by a dog, Sasha Quail claims expert fromClaims.co.uk, recommends:
“It’s important to seek medical attention immediately, no matter the size of the bite, as well as reporting the incident to the local authorities. If possible try to obtain the owner’s details, name and breed of the dog and their vet’s details – this will make it easier if you do have to take the matter to a solicitor.
You will also need to collect evidence if you do want to pursue a claim, if safe to do so, including; a photo of the injury, any item of clothing (unwashed) from the attack, a written account of the attack, any witnesses, and a formal medical record from your doctor.”