If you or your children ever encounter an off-leash dog – even if it’s one you know from around your neighbourhood – it’s still important to be careful, especially if the dog’s guardians aren’t nearby.
“If you see a dog running around off-leash, even a small dog, and you don’t know what its intentions are, remember to ‘stand like a tree’ – stand still with your arms at your sides,” says BC SPCA humane education manager Paula Neuman. “You want to ‘stand like a tree’ because you’re a lot more boring to the dog. If you run away and they start to chase you, they’re more likely to nip or bite at you.”
If you’re worried the dog might bite you, or it looks aggressive, immediately ‘lie like a log’, facedown on the ground, with your hands protecting the back of your neck, she notes.
“Even if you know the dog, he could be lost or scared and not know where his guardian is, which may cause him to behave differently than when he’s at home or on-leash with his guardian,” Neuman says.
“Of course, we hope this is never an issue for anyone, but when it comes to dog bite safety and preventing dog bites, these are key steps to know – it never hurts for you and your children to know what to do, just in case such a situation arises.”
For dog guardians who allow their dogs off-leash, it is important to teach your canine to always come when called, or no-fail recall, says BC SPCA manger of animal welfare Kim Monteith.
“First, you have to train him to know that it’s worth his while to come to you – we all like to get paid, so ‘pay’ your pet with his favourite treat or toy or whatever motivates him the most,” Motneith says. “If your dog is off-leash, always stay focused on him, not on your cellphone or conversation – it only takes seconds for something to happen.”
Dogs get into squabbles sometimes, just like humans, but if your dog is always getting into ‘arguments’ with other dogs at the off-leash park, or is scared of other dogs there, it is likely best not to take him to the dog park, as it’s not fair to him or other dogs, Monteith notes.
If your dog does bite another person or dog, it is key to be a responsible pet guardian and own up to any potential injury, she adds.
“First, put your dog on-leash and secure him in your vehicle or give him to a friend to hang onto. Make sure everyone is OK and get all the information you’ll need from the other person or people involved and have a discussion with the other dog’s guardian,” Monteith says. “Don’t just walk away and say ‘It wasn’t my dog’s fault’ – remember, you let him off the leash.”
BiteFree: Dog Bite Safety is offered as a presentation and DVD and is good for any age. It teaches students how to react to stray or attacking dogs and gives them the skills to recognize and avoid potentially dangerous confrontations with dogs.
Find out more at spca.bc.ca/bitefree.