Most domestic dogs are friendly, inquisitive animals whose first instinct is to sniff everything, wag their tails, and then move on to the next item of interest. Unfortunately, they are not ALL like this, so it’s best to have your wits about you and not do anything to alarm them or get them overly excited. Children, in particular sometimes have trouble understanding that concept and can cause a problem simply by reacting the wrong way.
For example, running around and swinging your arms will likely cause an excitable reaction in the dog. He will think it is playtime and will, more than likely, either jump around you or jump ON you. This could be disastrous in the case of a large dog and a small child. There can only be one winner! Two courses of action are sensible here. Ignore the dog completely or stand still and pretend to be a tree.
Standing still will probably generate a cursory sniff before the dog moves away or is physically pulled away by the owner. You won’t be of any interest to him as you are not something to play with or chase. It can take quite a bit of courage to stand perfectly still, but it is the best thing to do. Here are some examples of when acting like a tree is effective:
- While out walking, maybe in a park, you are approached by a strange dog – standstill.
- The dog scares you, worries you, makes you feel uncomfortable – it’s harder, but try to standstill
- The dog wants to chase you – this is even harder but do your best to stand perfectly still
- A dog that is with you or maybe a friend suddenly gets a bit frisky and wants to jump around you – calm him down by standing still
In such situations, fold your arms, look straight ahead and count from one to ten and then keep on counting until the dog is pulled away or runs off. Your action tells the dog that you are no threat to him and are of no interest whatsoever. After that first sniff, he will go away. If he should happen to just stand there not moving then you can move very slowly away, without any hand movements, without any fuss.
Probably the very last thing you should do is RUN. If you are carrying food and he looks like he wants it put it on the ground away from your feet. If he takes the bait, move slowly away. In the unfortunate event that you are knocked to the ground or just trip, it’s best to roll up, hands behind the head and act like a stone. Again, one sniff and he will be gone.
To read more about being safe around dogs, have a look at this link:
You may also consider the Kennel Club Safe and Sound Scheme