I was inspired while at a party this weekend to write about how many people find dogs scary.
Having worked with hundreds of dogs in the last 12 years, if I am really honest, it’s not something I ever really think about! However, I have spent a bit of time in a few Edinburgh schools helping kids learn how to behave around dogs and in that environment have come across many kids who are quite literally terrified of being anywhere near a dog. I can understand this must be very difficult on a sunny day in any park or beach in many parts of the world.
So I thought I would share a couple of techniques that have been tried and tested many times over and really do work.
If you and/or your child are scared of dogs and a dog is running towards you, the best thing to do is:
Stand together and still like a tree, cross your arms and look up at the sky.
It really is that simple. This will immediately give you something to do other than look at the dog or run away…. dogs love to chase… and you immediately become less of a threat to the dog because you are still and not making eye contact. With any luck the owner will then take control of their dog sooner rather than later!!
Alternatively, if you or your child are nervous of dogs, but feel like you ought to show willing to a friend’s dog. Try this:
It is really important to not approach the dog and look at it. Always make eye contact and ASK the dog come to you. If it does not come great, you didn’t really want to pat it anyway!
This way if the dog is nervous you give it the opportunity to not come and if it’s relaxed it will come to you and you can give it a quick pat, job done. Friends are happy and you have kept yourself safe. A dog will only want to bite you if you invade its space and it feels threatened, so if you ask first and it comes in a relaxed way it won’t feel the need to protect itself and bite you.
This is actually great advice for anyone who wants to stroke and play with any dog including their own. It’s really kind to the dog, it respect’s their space and gives them choices and would probably prevent a good 95% of dog bites. (ok, that was a made up statistic, but you know what I mean).