Clamping Down on Dog Attacks

Imagine walking up the driveway to your client or customer's home only to have
a dog burst out of the front door, growling and baring its teeth in full attack
mode. If you are lucky, you won't have to find out if the dog's bark is worse
than its bite.

For thousands of people who enter a homeowner's property to do their work the
risk of dog attacks on the job is a frightening reality. At risk workers
include delivery personnel, letter carriers, utility workers, and real estate
agents. Even loud barking and the unpredictability of the situation can be
unnerving. Canada Post reports that on average, there are 500 dog-related
incidents a year involving Canada Post employees. The U.S. Postal Service
reports that annually 5,700 of their workers are victimized by dogs. Recovery
from a severe dog bite can take months or years, and in some cases, the worker
can be scarred for life, both physically and emotionally.

Dog bites are more common during the summertime when owners allow their pets
more outdoor time in the warm weather, and as letter carriers or regular
personnel known to the dog take vacation. Workers replacing vacationing
colleagues are probably not familiar to the dog and therefore the dog may have
more of a tendency to want to protect their owner's property. Even smaller dogs
are capable of inflicting serious injuries to people they feel may be
trespassing on their owners' property.

Avoid the bite

In certain situations, even the gentlest dog will bite. There are steps you can
take to protect yourself from being attacked or bitten on the job:

  • Resist the urge to give treats to dogs, no matter how friendly the animal may seem to be.

  • Keep a safe distance between you and the dog even if it is on a leash.

  • Avoid approaching a dog that is sleeping, barking, snarling, eating or caring for puppies. If they feel vulnerable they may fight to protect their territory.

  • If you believe a dog is about to attack, position yourself so that you have something between you and the dog, such as a tree, bench, post, backpack or bicycle.

  • Don't run past a dog as it will naturally want to chase and catch you.

  • Never approach a dog that appears to be in pain.

Reduce the risk: what dog owners can do

Dog bites can be prevented. The Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS)
suggests that dogs that are properly trained and socialized around people and
other dogs are not likely to bite people. If you are a dog owner, you need to
act responsibly and take the necessary measures to reduce the risk of your dog
biting or attacking anyone.

  • Have your pet spayed or neutered before six months of age as it can help reduce aggressive behaviour.

  • Take your dog to obedience classes to learn how to train and control your dog as well as to help make your dog people-safe.

  • Keep pets leashed and away from mail slots, mail boxes, and the front of the house or areas where delivery people may be approaching from the street, at least during delivery hours.

  • Before accepting delivery at your front door place your pet in a separate room and close the door.

  • Don't let your child take mail from the letter carrier in front of your dog as your dog's instinct to protect the family may trigger an attack.

To protect their employees from possible injury, some employers, such as Canada
Post, are taking steps to stop delivery to households that present risks of dog
attacks until the owners address the situation.

Further Information - Source: Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety