If you’re any kind of delivery driver — from GrubHub to Amazon, to USPS, to FedEx, you know that dog bites are a hazard of your job. With more than 4 million dog bites in the U.S. each year, there’s no guarantee that you won’t be one of them, especially since you put yourself in harm’s way every time you encounter a dog along your route. Fortunately, there are some dog bite prevention strategies you can implement to keep your risk as low as possible.
Keep Your Cool
The best thing you can do when an aggressive dog confronts you when you’re trying to deliver an order is to remain calm. You don’t want to run, even if that’s your first instinct, because dogs innately have “prey drive,” which triggers them to chase after something that runs. While not all dogs will behave this way if you run away, many of the more aggressive breeds will chase after anything that moves.
Your best bet is to ignore the dog as much as possible and even stand still until the dog loses interest in you. If you give no outward reaction to the dog, it will eventually decide you’re not interesting enough to bite. But, running away or even trying to move past the dog can be interpreted as an aggressive move, to which the dog will respond even more aggressively.
Avoid a Staring Contest
When you look a dog straight in the eyes, especially an aggressive dog, the dog will consider it a challenge. And when a dog is challenged, it very rarely backs down. It will interpret the stare as someone trying to take over its territory or who intends to cause harm and the dog will do everything possible to keep that from happening.
Make Yourself Small
You might have heard that if you ever encounter a bear in the wild, you should make yourself as large as possible to frighten off the bear. Well, with a dog, it’s just the opposite. You want to appear as a non-threat to the dog and one way to do this is to turn slightly sideways instead of facing the dog straight on. Don’t take your eyes off the animal, though. Keep it in your peripheral vision so you can anticipate any sudden moves.
Claim Your Space
Some dogs will stay further away from you if you carry your delivery out in front of you as you calmly walk to the front porch. By not backing away and keeping a boundary around you, the dog will often give you the respect you deserve and keep its distance. If all else fails, though, be prepared to throw something away from yourself to distract the dog long enough to get back in your vehicle. If there’s a particularly aggressive dog on your route that you encounter frequently, consider taking some treats with you to ensure you have something to throw.
You won’t be able to avoid dogs forever if you’re a delivery driver, but you can proactively take steps to keep them from biting you.