Dog attacks - protect yourself

2016-05-25 06:00

THERE have recently been reports of attacks by dogs on people and ER24 is urging pet owners to take good care of their dogs by ensuring they are well socialised and trained from a young age, and kept safe in their property. ER24 is also urging people to avoid approaching unfamiliar dogs and to report stray dogs to the relevant authorities.Children should also be educated about how to act around and take care of their dogs.

According to Samantha Walpole, secretary of Animal Behavioural Consultants of South Africa, children are the most at risk of being bitten by dogs.

“Children are generally drawn to dogs. Wagging tails are attractive to children. Unfortunately, the public is ill informed that if a dog’s tail is wagging, it means that it is happy and is safe to approach. This is far from the truth. Children are also taught that hugging and kissing is an acceptable form of affection. To humans it is, but to canines this is perceived as confrontational.

“Fundamentally, humans and dogs speak a different language. When communication is misunderstood, people get bitten,” said Walpole, also a dog behaviourist and trainer.

Walpole said dogs that bite their owners, or anyone, could have an underlying medical condition. The dog could also be pushed to a point where it has no choice or could feel threatened. Harsh and confrontational training methods could also be a contributing factor.

Walpole said that people should purchase dogs from reputable breeders.
“If you want to purchase a puppy, do your homework to match the right breed with your lifestyle.”

Further tips:

• Research and learn how to “speak dog”. There are a number of body signals that a dog displays to indicate that it is uncomfortable.

• Learn what your dog likes and dislikes and respect these needs.

• Do not poke, push or sit on a dog or pull its tail.

• Stop what you are doing if a dog shows discomfort

• Do not reprimand a dog when it growls. This is a language prior to a bite.

If a person is bitten by a dog, the incident should be reported to the police. If the dog is being ill-treated or neglected, the SPCA can be contacted. - ER24.

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