Roaming dogs and dog safety
Our Animal Management team has extensive experience working with dogs of all dispositions, sizes and behaviours. Our team members are trained and skilled in responding to the varied types of situations that they are called upon to handle.
All animal management issues, including roaming dogs, should be reported as soon as possible to our Customer Services team, who'll then refer them to the relevant Animal Management Officer. After years of working in the community to keep both people and dogs safe, the Animal Management team has also complied a few tips that will help even the most seasoned dog whisperer avoid danger.
Safe ways to enter properties
- Before entering a property, peek over a fence or gate and check for signs that a dog might live there. Signs that might mean a dog lives at the property include: dog poo on the ground, dog dishes, leads or chains, chew toys, bones.
- If you suspect that a dog is there, try calling out to alert both the dog’s and the property resident’s attention.
- If you see a dog and you are unsure about its behaviour, don’t go onto the property.
How to approach a dog
- Always ask for the owner’s permission to greet or pat their dog. Not all dogs are friendly or like to be touched by strangers.
- Avoid direct eye contact with the dog. The dog could misinterpret direct contact as a threat, provoking aggressive behaviour in return.
- Once the owner has given the go-ahead to greet the dog, don’t reach for it; let the dog finish the contact.
- Allow the dog to sniff you before you touch it, offering an outstretched fist, not outstretched fingers.
- Remain calm and quiet – too much energy and loud talking can create anxiety and fear in the dog.
- Don’t get close up to the dog’s face, or give the dog a hug. Respect its personal space.
- Pat the dog on the chest, back, or sides, rather than on its head because the dog might perceive a hand on its head from a stranger as a threat.
Why dogs attack or bite
- Dogs bite as a reaction to something.
- Dogs can bite when they are scared or have been startled.
- Dogs can bite when they feel threatened.
- Dogs can bite to protect something that is valuable to them.
- Dogs can bite when they aren’t feeling well, and just want to be left alone.
- Dogs can bite if their prey drive is triggered, as in the case of a moving bike or person (joggers, runners).
How to recognise dogs that are going to attack or bite
- Direct eye contact – this is a direct threat from a dog.
- Tail up, may be wagging stiffly - Just because a dog is wagging its tail doesn’t mean that it is happy or likes you. A wagging tail indicates high energy.
- Legs apart and chest thrown out – The dog is trying to look big and threatening.
- Ears up or perked.
- Low rumbling growl.
- Showing front teeth – When a dog shows its front teeth (a short mouth) it is pre-empting a bite.
If the dog shows any of these behaviours, assume that it will bite, and back away slowly.