Dog attacks have continued to wreak havoc on Australia, with a spate of horrific incidents leaving many suffering serious injuries or worse, tragic deaths.
Pets that had been a part of the family for years on end have all of a sudden turned on their owners, launching themselves at the defenceless and causing heartbreak for those throughout the country. Thankfully though, there are ways to protect yourself if you come across an aggressive dog or are attacked.
While the initial reaction when approached by one is to run away as fast as possible, according to veterinarian Dr Sophia Yin, that could do more harm than good – with several other steps to take before reaching that point. Whether you are taking your own dog for a walk or at a home when you see an aggressive dog, the expert said though difficult, you should try stay calm, face the dog and stand still.
It’s best to keep your arms folded in front of you to avoid accidentally swinging them around. In this case most dogs will then bark and back away.
If they do this, then you can step towards them slowly. For the most part, the dog will walk away on their own once they realise you are not going to run away for them to chase. Once this occurs, you can turn and walk away.
Alternatively, you can back away slowly in a calm and relaxed manner until you are some distance away and the dog is not following you. Then you can turn and walk away.
If the situation becomes worse and the dog attacks you, grab something to act as a shield between you and the canine. This could be a bag, a sturdy umbrella or a bin lid – as long as its wide and flat it will help. If the dog starts jumping on you, still try to remain clam and turn you back towards the dog so it can’t get to your face. From there, if the animal knocks you to the ground, you should roll up in a ball with your knees bent and your hands around the back of your neck and hold as still as possible.
Educating the public, especially children, in dog behaviour and bite prevention is – according to the RSPCA – just one of many strategies to follow to prevent attacks from occurring.
Speaking to Starts at 60 about the flurry of attacks of late, RSPCA Australia Senior Scientific Officer Dr Sarah Zito said any preventative strategy needs to address all factors associated with dog bite incidents. This includes registration and microchipping of all dogs, control of unrestrained and free-roaming animals and provisions for the control of menacing dogs. Zito also said desexing of non-breeding dogs is essential, along with training of owners and dogs and socialisation of dogs with other people and animals.