Our friends at the United States Postal Service recently released statistics on the Top 40 cities where postal carriers have been bitten or attacked by dogs. DC made it to the very bottom of the list, with 19 dog attacks last year– but honestly, that’s 19 too many. Last year, 6755 postal workers were attacked or bitten by dogs on the job. This is not just a serious threat to the workers’ safety, but as a postal customer, you may be required to go to your local post office to pick up your mail if your mail carrier feels threatened by your dog.
The USPS, along with the American Veterinary Medical Foundation and other partners, wants to raise awareness during Dog Bite Prevention week, happening through the end of this week. Here on the Hill, given our large doggy and kid population, it’s important to be aware of the fact that ANY dog can bite– no matter how quirky or adorable or small. Children are the largest group affected by dog bites, according to the AVMF, so the more you know, the safer we will all be.
Are you dog safety-savvy? Take this quiz shared by the USPS! I love quizzes and this is a good one to check just how good you are around dogs. Woof!
Dog Safety Quiz (thank you USPS!)
1. Is it okay to open a door and let dogs out when a letter carrier drops off mail? Yes OR No
If a letter carrier delivers mail or packages to your front door, place your dog into a separate room and close the door before opening the front door. Dog owners should remind their children about the need to keep the family dog secured. Parents should remind their children not to take mail directly from letter carriers in the presence of the family pet as the dog may see handing mail to a child as a threatening gesture.
2. Does an angry dog wag his tail? Yes OR No
People often assume that a dog with a wagging tail is a friendly dog, but this is far from the truth. Dogs wag their tails for numerous reasons, including when they’re feeling aggressive. A tail that is held high and moves stiffly is a sign that the dog is feeling dominant, aggressive, or angry.
3. Do dogs like to be kissed and hugged? Yes OR No
We humans like to touch and hug people and things when we express happiness. Dogs don’t. Some dogs are very tolerant and will allow hugging and kissing while some try to get away. A dog may tolerate or even enjoy a hug on his terms, but sometimes he will not be in the mood. Think about it, when hugging a person you wrap your arms around the other and hold them in place for a few seconds. That alone is bad news to a dog since they on average do not do well with restrain. They generally don’t like to be held in place. This alone is enough to generate feelings of anxiety as well as a sense of unease and insecurity in your dog.
4. If you know a dog, is it okay to reach through a car window or a fence to pet it? Yes OR No
Dogs, even ones you know have good days and bad days. You should never pet a dog without asking the owner first and especially if it is through a window or fence. For a dog, this makes them feel like you are intruding on their space and could result in the dog biting you.
5. If a dog is chasing you, should you try to run away? Yes OR No
Never run from a dog! The dog may think you are playing 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. Remain calm and still and talk to the dog using a soft voice. Loud, angry-sounding words and screaming only make the dog nervous and upset.
6. Is it important to ask an owner for permission before you pet their dog? Yes OR No
ALWAYS even if it is a dog you know!
- First get the “OK” from the owner.
- Hold out your hand, fingers closed, palm down, slowly toward the dog. Allow the dog to approach your hand and sniff it.
- Wait for the dog’s “OK.” If he wants your affection, he will lower his head, perk ears, or even come closer to you. If the dogs puts his ears back, flat on his head, or growls, or cowers, don’t pet him!
- Pat the dog on the top of his head, or along his back. Avoid touching his belly, tail, ears, or feet.
7. Is it okay to pet a dog while it is eating? Yes OR No
Do not try to take food or toy away from a dog. NEVER bother a dog while he is eating. The most common situation where a dog bite occurs is while a dog is eating because they are protecting their source of food.
8. Is it okay to hit or yell at your dog if it doesn’t listen to you? Yes OR No
When we hit or yell at a dog, we are applying pain and scaring the dog. For dogs, a natural reaction to being hurt or frightened is to bite. A fearful dog doesn’t trust people and can lead to aggression.
9. Is a scared dog as dangerous as an angry dog? Yes OR No
When animals and people are afraid of something, they prefer to get away from that thing. They try to defend themselves from the scary thing. An angry dog is just as dangerous as a dog that is afraid because both will be defensive and bite.
10. Are there only certain breeds (or types) of dogs that bite? Yes OR No
ALL DOGS are capable of biting. There’s no one breed or type of dog that’s more likely to bite than others. Biting has more to do with circumstances, behavior, and training.
11. Do dogs use their body to tell you how they feel? Yes OR No
Dogs have a language that allows them to communicate their emotional state and their intentions to others around them. Although dogs do use sounds and signals, much of the information that they send is through their body language, specifically their facial expressions and body postures. You can tell how a dog is feeling (sad, tired, happy, angry, scared) by looking at the position of a dogs’ ears, mouth, eyes, and tail.
12. Does a good dog owner leave his dog chained up outside all day? Yes OR No
Dogs are social animals who crave human companionship. That’s why they thrive and behave better when living indoors with their pack — their human family members. Dogs that are tied up or chained outside are frustrated and can become aggressive because they are unhappy. They can also become very afraid because when they are tied or chained up, they can’t escape from things that scare them.