I was walking with my daughter the other day. We were quite happy to be outside on one of the first truly beautiful spring days of the year. As we were getting close to home I heard some yelling. A woman’s door swung open and this huge dog came bounding out of the door, running straight for my daughter and I.
I froze. I’m not an expert on dogs, but this one looked like a rottweiler to me. I realize it’s not fair to judge a dog by its breed but this was a strange dog, and it was heading right for my little girl and me. I quickly pulled her behind me as the dog ran past. He wasn’t coming for us, he was just happy to be free.
I then hear a rather disgruntled sounding voice from the other side of the street telling me, “He won’t hurt you.” This person was actually upset with me for fearing this dog. This baffled me. Why would I take a strangers word for it? I don’t know him or his dog. I was even more baffled at why he was so offended.
Dogs are definitely a huge part of our lives. If you don’t own a dog, chances are many people you know do. For the most part dogs are loving and loyal companions, and are friendly and tame. There are dogs, however, that are mistreated or bred to be guard dogs. The problem is, no one can tell which is which, often until it is too late.
Children are by far the biggest victims of dog-related injuries and deaths. Children are naturally curious and trusting, and would never dream that cute dog could hurt them. This is where parents and dog owners need to step in and protect the children from harm.
You should always treat each dog as if it were dangerous. This holds true even if the owner tries to tell you differently. If you see a dog that is alone, avoid it at all costs.
If you choose to pet a strange dog, with the owner’s permission, be careful about how you approach the dog. Always allow the dog to smell you hand before you touch it. The back is the best place to touch first and you should use a soft and calm motion.
Most dogs will show you signs of being excited and willing to have contact with you. The dog’s tail may be wagging frantically or they may be squirming with excitement to meet you. A dog that keeps its distance is best left alone. Just like humans, dogs have bad days and at times may not be up to meeting you or anyone else.
Avoid any dog that seems agitated or appears to be injured. Look for common signs of aggression. These include hair standing up on end, growling, baring teeth, tail tucked between legs, and ears pointed down or backwards.
If You Are Approached
If an agitated dog comes your way, or one you aren’t sure of, stop and stand still. Do not make eye contact with the dog. If you have children with you, put yourself between the dog and the children. Try not to make any sudden or swift movements and do not yell or panic. If you have a jacket or other item, hold it in your hands. If the dog attacks, you can force this object into their mouth instead of your hands, arms, or face.
Pepper spray is useful if an aggressive dog advances on you. If you fear they are going to attack, use it. If the dog does attack and you have nothing to protect yourself, the best defense you have is to curl up in the fetal position. If you do so, you may get hurt, but the dog may lose interest quickly.
In Case of Bites
In the unfortunate event that you or someone one with you gets bitten, you have to act quickly. Get the bite washed quickly with soap and water and call for help. Officials will want to find the dog to test it for rabies, so remember as much about the dog as possible so they can locate it right away.
Most dogs are friendly and are excited to meet you. Looks can be deceiving however, and you always want to keep safety an important issue, especially when it comes to children. If you see a dog running wild in your neighborhood, don’t be afraid to call animal control. That action may save you, or someone else, from being the victim of a dog attack.
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