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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

When the Dog Bites

My favorite running buddy Mojo

Did you ever have one of those weeks that you just want to forget?  My week was topped off by a Sunday ride in the park after the Packer game. That ride finished with a dog bite.

Let me say love dogs.  My favorite running buddy is my nephew Dan's dog Mojo.  Mojo is so laid back, he would never bite anyone. I do know from playing tug of war with his rope just how strong he is. I always tell my family, "It's a good thing he likes us."  That's what makes a dog attack so scary.  The bigger the dog, the stronger and more dangerous the attack.

It happened so fast.  I was on the bike path in the park across the street from my house. In fact I could see my house.  There were two guys walking dogs. One had two dogs and other had a huge black hairy mongrel dog. He had the dog leash stretched across the path so I could't get through.  I stopped to wait. His friend motioned to him to clear the path.  When he did, I slowly rolled past the big black dog. I was inches away which was too close. The dog lunged and took a big bite out of my thigh. It hurt like hell.  I told the guy his dog had bite me. The owner hit him on the nose and told the dog he was bad. I yelled, not a bad dog vicious dog and you're  lucky I don't report you.  The irony is dogs are not even allowed in the park.  This is the first time I've been bitten since I was 14 years old. When on a bike I can usually out run a dog and did so just the week before when ridding out in the county.

I'm a professional trainer at a local utility in Milwaukee. One of the things I teach our field people is how to avoid dog bites. So maybe you can follow some of the advice I give field employees.

You need to recognize the signs of an aggressive dog.  Here are some signs of a dog likely to attack
  • eyes back and close to the head
  • eyes narrowed with a challenging stare
  • tense body
  • snarling, growling or barking loudly
  • lips may be open or drawn back to expose teeth in a snarl
  • tail straight out from the body
Some dogs like the one that bite me give no warning. 

Dogs are territorial. I got too close to the dog that bit me.  They will protect their territory including their owners. I got too close to the owner and invaded the dog's territory.  The sidewalk or street may be seen by a dog as part of their territory so be aware. Look for signs of dogs such as chains, dog house, toys or perimeter fencing.  Be aware and ready to take action.  I can often out run a dog if I am aware as soon as they start the  chase. The last pursuit' two weeks ago was close. A small terrier from a farm came out on the road. He had teeth barred and saliva dripping. He wanted to bite bad, but I out ran him.

If you are attacked by a dog while running or walking;
  • never ever turn your back on a dog.
  • Stop running or walking. If the dog is smaller than knee height I actually step toward  the dog and stomp my foot. Dogs are all about dominance and small dogs can be easily intimidated.
  • Tell the dog "no" or "bad dog" or something similar. Shout it and be forceful. Sometimes this buys time until the owner gets there or time for you to back away.
  • Walk backwards slowly until you are out of the dog's territory.
  • If the dog lunges, spray your water bottle. It also works to snap a tee shirt or jacket at the dog. Again the key with small dogs is to be aggressive.
I did not have my cell phone with me. I will carry it from now on.  The next time it happens I will report it to the police. The dog attack I got broke the skin and left a bruise about 2 inches wide and 6 inches long.
Attacks should be reported so authorities are aware of the dog and can take necessary measures.   Since this attack broke the skin I should have gotten contact information in case this dog shows signs of rabies.
Hoping it will all be all right.

If you are in an area where you are at risk from dog attacks, you might want to consider taking along dog spray. It can be an effective at stopping attacks.

Be safe when you run, walk or bike and pay attention to your surrounds. Give dogs and their owners plenty of space. React quickly when you recognize a potential dog hazard. Be safe out there and learn from my mistakes.

Chris Wodke
Manager & Founder Team CMT

1 comment:

  1. Owners are legally responsible for their dogs. So, if you’re a victim of a dog bite, reporting it to the authorities is strongly recommended. You must also watch the dog for signs of rabies and get vaccinated right away.

    Nannie Leick