Here are some things the Humane Society says everyone should know about
canine behavior and safety:
- Learn how to read a dog's body language and know when to keep away. A frightened animal holds its ears down, tucks its tail under its body
and may shake, growl or back away. Trying to befriend it invites an attack.
- Stay clear of a dog that is angry or aggressively protecting its territory: Ears are up and forward; eyes look directly at you; tail is up and may be wagging
slowly; hair may be standing up on the neck, back and tail and the dog is likely to be barking or growling with teeth exposed.
- If you are approached by an agressive dog, the best defense is to freeze. Act like a tree: Stand perfectly still with hands in fists held close to the body, don't yell or say anything and DON'T look at the animal. Dogs interpret direct eye contact as a threat or challenge.
- If a dog knocks you down, act like a rock: Roll into a fetal position with knees up, elbows tucked in and hands in fists held against your ears.
- Pet dogs along the side or back of the animal's body, not the head, face or ears which are mre sensitive.
- Don't tease a dog or play rough with it. Play games like fetch or Frisbee, not tug-of-war.
- Respect the dog's private times. Never bother a dog when it is eating, resting, sleeping or chewing on something.
- If an owner lets you approach a dog, move slowly toward the animal so as not to frighten it, and don't immediately reach out to pet it. First, make a loose fist and hold it out toward the dog with the back of your hand up and a little ways from the side of your body. Let the dog decide whether it wants to sniff your hand. If it doesn't, that's where the greeting should stop.
- If you are charged by a dog, don't yell or scream, but immediately offer an article of clothing, gym bag, purse or other item for the animal to tug on.
- If a dog should grab your arm or leg, push into its mouth as hard as you can. It will make the dog feel it is losing control and it will let go and run. This will also keep your flesh from tearing on the dog's teeth as you push away.
The Humane Society notes that by spaying or neutering a dog, owners can reduce by three-fold the risk of biting.
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