What every person should know:
1. Never approach a loose dog, even if he seems friendly. Dogs that are confined in yards, and especially those dogs on chains, should also be avoided. Many are very serious about protecting their turf. If the dog is with her owner, one should always ask permission before petting, and offer the back of the hand for a sniff. Pat on the neck or chest. The dog may interpret a pat from above as a gesture of dominance. Avoid fast or jerky movements.
2. Be a tree when a dog approaches, standing straight with feet together, fists under the neck and elbows at the chest. Do not make eye contact. Some dogs view eye contact as a challenge. Running is a normal response to danger, but it is the worst possible thing to do around a dog, because it triggers the dog’s instinct to chase and bite. Many dogs just sniff a person and then leave. Stay still until until the dog walks away, then back away slowly out of the area.
3. If attacked, “feed” the dog a jacket or backpack. You can use a bike to block the dog. These strategies may keep an attacking dog’s teeth from connecting with flesh.
4. Act like a log if knocked down: face down, legs together, curled into a ball with fists covering the back of the neck and forearms over the ears. This position protects vital areas and can keep an attack from turning fatal. It is a good idea to role play these lessons with children until they become ingrained.
5. Be proactive as a dog owner in preventing attacks. Socialize and train your dog from the day you get one. Neuter your dog to prevent dominance challenges, which can be especially dangerous to children. Keep your dog in a secure area where he can not be gotten to, especially by children.
This excerpt taken from Veterinary Partner was published in its original form on 9/11/2000 and was written by Gina Spadafori
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