For many of us, dogs are loving, protective creatures we invite into our homes as not just pets, but members of the family. But for some of us, dogs are unfriendly strangers that pose a workplace hazard we’d like to avoid.
Mail carriers, emergency responders, construction workers, meter readers, door-to-door salespeople, lawn maintenance workers, repair crews, pool maintenance personnel, trash pick-up crews, surveyors, and more, can come into contact with dogs on a regular basis. Each year, the United States Postal Service spends $25 million on medical expenses, workers’ compensation, legal fees, carrier replacement, and other costs associated with dog attacks. But even if your occupation doesn’t put you at risk for dog bites, being prepared will only help if you do run into an angry canine.
With more than $1 billion paid each year in dog bite litigation settlements, let’s skip the drama (and pain!) and go over some tips for dog bite prevention:
How to prevent a dog attack
- Make noise before entering an area where you think there might be a dog to avoid startling the animal.
- Do not approach an unattended dog.
- Do not look a dog straight in the eye.
- Avoid intruding on a dog’s personal space.
- Pay attention to the dog’s body language. Attack signals include tense body, stiff tail, pulled-back ears, and an intense stare.
- If a dog is behaving aggressively, act unafraid. Dogs really can sense fear.
- Do not make any sudden movements. If you think you have invaded the dog’s turf, slowly remove yourself.
- At first, remain still when the dog approaches. He/she may just want to sniff you.
What to do if a dog attacks
- Do not run away. The dog’s instinct is to chase you and it is highly unlikely you can outrun a dog.
- Keep your fingers curled into a fist to avoid having them bitten.
- Use your body language to assert yourself. Make yourself as tall and big as possible, and lean forward.
- Yell “no” in your deepest voice. Most dogs understanding the meaning of the word “no.”
- Put something between you and the dog, such as an umbrella, hat, stick, garbage can lid, etc. That way, the dog will bite the object instead of you.
- Put your back against something. When dogs attack, they prefer to circle their prey. With your back against a fence or house, you can move sideways toward an exit.
- While you should do your best to avoid hurting the dog, if you are attacked you need to fight back. Hitting, kicking, or kneeing the dog on the back of the head, on the nose, or throat is most effective.
- Try to protect your face, throat, and chest. These are the most sensitive areas of your body.
- If you are having difficulty escaping a dog’s grasp, straddle his/her back with some of your body weight, and apply forward pressure to the back of his/her neck.
Following the attack
- Properly care for even minor bites, as they can still become infected.
- Use warm water and soap to cleanse your wounds.
- Cover the wound with a sterile bandage.
- If bleeding will not stop after several minutes of applying pressure with a clean cloth or sterilized pad, contact your physician.
- Keep an eye on the area for signs of infection, including redness, increasing tenderness, and oozing pus.
- If you believe the dog was a stray, call animal control. This could prevent attacks on others and determine if the dog has rabies.
- If the dog’s owner lives nearby and you have been hurt, you may consider taking legal action.