Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sound Advice on Meeting Strange Dogs

The Sri Lankan Sunday Times newspaper published an article about the ongoing controversy of how to deal with stray dogs in a country where rabies is a serious concern.

At the end of the article they give some very sound advice to anyone coming into contact with a dog to avoid getting bitten. I have emphasized what I believe is the key advice:
                Do not stare directly into the eyes of an unknown dog because it is intimidating and may provoke an attack
                Do not go near a female dog with pups or try to stroke or feed
                Do not run past a sleeping dog – walk past it instead
                Do not disturb a dog when it is eating
                Do not illtreat a dog that is minding its own business by throwing stones or sticks, kicking it or shouting at it
                Do not go near a dog that is chained – it may be aggressive
                If a dog is chasing you with the clear intention to bite, stand your ground (do not move) and do not wave your arms about. Look away from the dog. It should then consider that you are not a threat and leave you alone. This is difficult to do but it is the right thing to do.
                To befriend a dog, find out whether there is an owner and ask the name of the dog. Call it by its name, if it responds and wags his tail first let him sniff the back of your hand and if you want to pet the dog, do so under its chin not on the top of its head.

As they say, standing still and looking away from an aggressive dog is difficult but is surprisingly effective as the dog usually calms down a lot after it has had a good sniff from close range. However, it is important to realise that this is advice to follow when faced with unowned dogs – pets on the loose are a different beast that are socially confused and treat strange people as they would a strange dog. It still works with most pets but I can’t guarantee it will work with all. Telling the difference is not always easy but having personally wandered many streets looking at dogs this strategy has not failed me yet.

Too often I see advice on the internet that encourages people to stare at dogs, throw things at them, or do other things that are guaranteed to ensure that the encounter is an aggressive confrontation.

My advice: LOOK AWAY AND STAY STILL (or move very slowly).

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