For most of us, to watch such a domestic animal such as a dog struggling to survive in the wild, its not easy to see. Trying to help or rescue a dog in a bad situation might sound easier than it turns out to be…
The dog may feel threatened or intimidated by your approach, this could be due to poor treatment during its life or little to no contact with people which will make the dog feel weary. I am not encouraging people to turn away and leave the dog in a bad way but I feel that taking your personal safety around them into consideration is compulsory. To come from a western country with little to no cases of strays, the behavior between a domesticated house dog to a dog that has had to fight for its survival, you might find the behavior differences a little shocking to what you might be used to.
10 things to remember to help you to stay safe with strays:
1. Discuss with your doctor the area you are travelling to and if necessary get your rabies Jabs before leaving your home country. Some animals could be high risk carriers of this fatal disease.
2. Avoid making Eye contact when helping a stray as they may find this threatening or intimidating. If possible keep moving forward in a confident manner, ignoring the dog. If you are scared the dog will pick up on that as weak energy, and may attack .
3. Be aware of your body language, do not walk heavy footed or abruptly towards the dog and try crouching at the dogs level to avoid towering over them.
4. Send calming signals, there are simple ways you can signal to a dog that you have peaceful intent following dog behavior. By performing these, you’re telling the dog that you mean it no harm, and you’ll avoid triggering its aggression. Remember that the majority of lone dogs are afraid of humans. By telling them in their own language that you’re not here to attack them, they’re likely to back down. Some useful calming signals to use are Yawning, licking your lips, standing sideways to the dog, letting them approach and sniff you (but don’t raise your hand, they might be surprised and bite).
5. If you are riding a bicycle and see strays then I would suggest getting of the bike and pushing it, dogs often find great fun in chasing the bikes.
6. Again the same with a moped though you don’t have to get off, but drive slowly. Also with this point something else to be aware of when driving a moped is quite often if you are driving in the hard shoulder be especially careful at night as dogs often lay on the sides of the road sleeping or may even have puppies with them and nobody wants to be responsible for an accident.
7. Avoid certain areas after dark if you feel vulnerable in the area due to strays.
8. Stand Still , If a strange dog comes running towards you, your first instinct is probably to run the other way. The best way to react is to stand still. You should drop anything you are holding, because this may be what is attracting the dog to you. The dog may think this is a game, and start chasing you if you begin to run away. Don’t shout or wave your arms as this will either encourage or frighten the dog. Acting bored and not making eye contact will cause most dogs to lose interest quickly.
9. If the dog knocks you over, curl up in a ball, larger breeds of dogs may be capable of knocking you over. Keep your head and arms tucked under your body and remain in this position until the dog gets bored and leaves you.
10. Use this as a last resort if the above fails. Crouch and pick up a small rock. For some reason, this is a gesture that dogs all around the world have learned to recognize as a source of impending pain, which unfortunately says a lot about the abuse they often receive. So you do not need to use the rock to inflict pain as the dog should back away weary of this gesture.
Check out my ‘Rabies’ post for more information. Simply click ‘International Smile’ in the header to access my other blog posts and thank you for reading!