Resist your instincts to run when confronted by aggressive dogs, trainer says
In the last 12 months there have been 39 reports of dogs attacking people in New Plymouth and 23 in South Taranaki.
While to the year ended June 30, 2017 there were seven attacks on people in the Stratford district.
Among the reported attacks in New Plymouth are Blair Staddon and his six-year-old daughter who were attacked as they returned to their car following a walk along Otaraoa Rd beach, north of Waitara, on September 2.
In an attempt to stop his daughter being bitten Staddon lifted her above his shoulders but the dogs continued to lunge and jump at her. As a result Staddon's daughter needed treatment for 12 puncture wounds.
In light of the recent attacks dog trainer Terry Darby, 68, was asked for his tips on avoiding an attack.
Darby, who has been around dogs since the age of five, used to train attack dogs for the Ministry of Defence in Europe but now trains them to assist the deaf or hearing impaired for Hearing Dogs New Zealand.
1. Stand your ground
People have to resist the natural urge to run. If someone runs when confronted by an aggressive dog it would naturally give chase and attempt to bite them which could result in serious injuries, Darby said.
The key is not to run and shout and scream and wave your arms about, he said.
"Stand still and stand your ground with your arms by your side.
"It's the hardest thing for someone to do without a doubt."
2. Don't stare at the dog or lower yourself down to its level
There are a number or reasons a dog can attack or become aggressive, including protecting its owner or young or its territory, and another way to avoid conflict is to keep your eyes off the canine, Darby said.
"Don't eyeball the dog, it won't like that.
"They're pretty powerful and they hurt when those teeth bite down."
3. Watch for signs of aggression
Signs a dog is becoming aggressive include raised hackles on its back, curling its lips and starting to growl or bark, Darby said.
"They are all signs to be aware of that you are not in a good situation."
He said there were no bad breeds of dogs just bad owners.
"It's the owners responsibility at the end of the day and how that dog has been brought up is down to them."
Darby also believed dogs should be on leads when in public places.
"If you can't control your dog by whistle or voice command and get it to return to you then yes your dogs should be on a lead."