In October 2008 a city worker was mauled, and nearly killed by two dogs while he was walking in a neighborhood during his lunch hour. The dogs attacked this man for nearly one hour; he was hospitalized for a month and had several surgeries to repair the damages done to his body.
The City of Phoenix decided to have an educational course to help educate the workers on the streets on canine safety. They never wanted to see another worker go through this horrible experience. I was asked to conduct these seminars, and our goal was to outreach 700 workers in two months.
During this time I began to realize that everyone could benefit from this knowledge because dog attacks are not uncommon and it would empower people to know their options.
When we are going for a walk whether it is in our neighborhoods, parks, or hiking trails we should constantly scan for stray dogs, feral dogs, coyotes, foxes or wolves. By scanning our surroundings we can determine our course of action.
Whenever I walk with my dogs I carry spray shield which is an animal deterrent spray and I constantly scan my environment to make sure it is safe for me or my dogs.
I also listen for unusual noises that may dictate to me a change in my course of travel. For instance, dogs pounding against the windows of their homes can break the glass and come after you. Another example is a dog jumping against a gate trying to get out, I call this barrier frustration.
I often hear from my clients that others let their dogs outside without leashes and the dog run over and start fights. The owners do not know what to do and usually someone gets bit.
Listed below are some options that can make your walking time safe:
- Scan the walking area continuously if you see a loose dog or animal in the distance it is a lot easier to turn around and go an alternative route.
- Look for areas that can provide protection in parks bathrooms with a door, a building, fences, your car if it is close or having something between you and the animal it will also provide protection.
- Carry with you an item that may deter the animal such as an umbrella. Dogs usually halt when an umbrella is opened quickly in their face. Spray Shield is another alternative or a walking stick may be used.
- If you noticed a dog loose in the neighborhood go to that neighbor and express your concerns most cities have leash laws.
- If the dog is not removed from the streets call the police and they will talk to your neighbor remember it is important to keep your neighbors safe and to keep that dog safe.
- Go an alternate route if you see an owner who has no control of the dog.
- Walk with other people and there dogs. There is safety in numbers.
- Learn how to read dog body language. Educate yourself on dog calming signals.
- Remember never run away from a dog. You will never outdistance a dog, they are just too quick, and to the animal when you run you set up the prey/predator chase.
- Stay alert, and constantly scan your surroundings. Have an escape plan. Your walks will be safe and fun.
Whether I am conducting a dog training group, or an in home service I always educate my clients on dog safety. It is important to gain as much knowledge as you can to further empower yourself share this information with others. By being dog-smart you will keep yourself and your dog from harm.