As repair technician or handyman service provider, you are well aware of the many threats you can encounter when performing house calls. Dogs can be one of the most fearsome and challenging of these threats, especially if you are a dog lover yourself. On one level you know a threatening dog is simply trying to protect its family, but you also need to know how to protect yourself. The following are a few non-lethal tips to keep you safe.
Tip #1: Never assume friendliness
It takes very little for a dog to go from friendly and tail wagging to growling and barking – sometimes with very little notice. One of your tools could frighten or alarm the dog, or a slight change in body language could put the dog ill at ease. Even if the owner assures you that the dog is friendly, request that they put the dog away while you are on the property. Use any excuse you like – you could say it's required by your worker's insurance, for example. Some owners get defensive if they think you consider the dog a threat, but they are less likely to be offended if they think the matter is out of your hands.
Tip #2: Don't approach the owner
If you notice an unsecured dog on the property, don't approach the owner or hand them anything. Some dogs read this as a threat to their owner, and they will attack or at least threaten. Wait for the dog to be secured before handing off the paperwork or other item that you need to give the owner.
Tip #3: Be on guard
Sometimes you may be doing work when the owner isn't home. In this case, use caution when entering the yard or home. If you have a work bag or case, carry this in front of you to act as a shield in case a dog attacks. Dogs that are going to bite will generally bite the first thing they encounter, such as your work bag. Keep a hold on the bag if this occurs, since the dog will release this and come after you if you drop the item. If a dog does threaten, talk calmly and back away slowly. Don't maintain eye contact, since this can further aggravate a dog that is feeling territorial.
Tip #4: Carry a repellent
Dog repellent sprays are very similar to pepper sprays or bear sprays. They are an irritant that immediately distracts and disarms the dog. This is a nonlethal way to protect yourself from an attacking dog, but care must be used. Never spray at a dog that is downwind from you, since the breeze will carry the spray into your face. You also have to be sure the nozzle is aimed directly at the dog. Another repellent that works well on dogs is a sound repellent. These produce a sound that is ear-splitting to dogs, often making them run or cower. You can find these repellents from local suppliers like Sound Defense.
While you can hope that you'll never encounter an aggressive dog while on the job, these tips can help you know what to do if that should ever happen.