Learning To Avoid Confrontation with Stray Dogs

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“Dogs never bite me; just humans.” Marilyn Munroe

Never approach a stray dog

Strays are usually hungry, thirsty, sometimes injured-and almost always frightened. They could also carry disease. There are too many unknown factors with a stray dog; it’s simply not worth the risk. Despite knowledge of or a love for dogs, it is best to steer clear of a stray. Do NOT reach over their head to pet them as they may see that motion as a threat and bite.

Walk with awareness

Stay aware of your surroundings. Even in familiar
surroundings, scan the area, near and far. This level of awareness doesn’t have to take away from the joy of your walk. You may see things you’ve not noticed before. It’s always best to know who and what is around you. Also, for a variety of safety reasons always bring a mobile phone with you.

Seek a safe haven

If you see a stray dog approaching from a distance, look for a place that’s secure. Step inside a fenced area, enter a place of business, or knock on a neighbor’s door. It’s always better to be safe than risk a dangerous encounter.

Carry food as a distraction

Carrying treats or a pocket full of kibble along with you because strays are almost always hungry, you can use the food to take the dog’s attention off you. Throw the food farther and farther away from you so the dog focuses on the food while you retreat to a place of safety.

If the above is not possible or a stray approaches you by surprise, follow these guidelines to protect yourself:

Don’t try to run

“The trees in Siberia are miles apart, which is why dogs are so fast.” Bob Hope Stand still. Hold your arms in front of you, clasp your hands together, and don’t move. Your goal is to eliminate a perceived threat or remove an opportunity to attack. If you run, there is a high probability that the dog will chase and attack you. If you stand still, he will most likely sniff you, and go on his way. Keep your eyes focused downward and watch the stray with your peripheral vision. Don’t stare at the dog. He could interpret this as a threat. Let the dog sniff you if he wants, but do not stick your hand out as this can be interpreted as a threat. When the dog leaves, do not turn your back on the dog. Back away slowly, so you can keep an eye on the dog. If you have been knocked down by a dog-don’t try to get up and run. Roll into a ball.

Cover your face and head with your arms, keep your legs together, and pull your knees up to your chest. Don’t get up and don’t move until the dog has gone away.

Dog Bites and Your Health – Rabies is Serious!

Always assume that a stray dog bite carries the risk of rabies infection with a fast-acting shot (rabies immune globulin) preventing the rabies virus from infecting you. Part of this injection is given near the area where the animal bit you if possible, as soon as possible after the bite. A series of rabies vaccines is also needed to help your body learn to identify and fight the rabies virus.

Rabies vaccines are given as injections in your arm. You typically receive four injections over 14 days.

– Seek medical attention without delay as early treatment is essential to reduce the risk of infection.
– Wash the area with mild antibacterial soap and running water to reduce the risk of infection. Pat dry.
– Apply antibiotic ointment and cover with a clean bandage or sterile dressing.
– Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before and after treating the wound.
– To reduce swelling, apply an ice pack wrapped in a towel or a cold compress (cloth soaked in cold water) to the bruise for 5-10 minutes.

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