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Offsite Safety – Avoiding Dog Bites

- April 14, 2016 by Leslie Stoll, CSP, ARM (View all posts by Leslie)

Dog bites are a serious exposure for many field employees, as the consequences of a dog bite can be severe.  According to a report published by dogbite.org, the average cost of a bite-related hospital stay is $18,200. While I don’t believe that most dogs are mean or aggressive, some may skittish or afraid of people and could potentially snap at you if you’re not careful.

In this installment of “Off Site Safety,” I’ll be discussing five training tips to that can help keep your employees safe from Fido.

1. Heed the homeowners warning  
Always listen to the owner. My dog is afraid of everyone. If you approach her, she will run scared. If you continue to approach her she will snap. Every time a sales person or repair person enters my home, I give them a safety talk about not touching my dog. If your employees follow a dog owner’s guidance, everything will go smoothly.

2. Ask for the dog to be removed 
Your team doesn’t need Fido’s advice on fixing the furnace, so there is no reason for the dog to be in your employees’ work area. When the scheduler calls to make and confirm an appointment, make sure they advise the customer to keep pets out of the work areas.

3. Understand that not all dogs want to be friends 
There is no reason to try to calm a barking dog when the homeowner can take the dog under their control.  Before you enter a yard, make sure the coast is clear.  If you cannot locate the owner, do not enter a yard with a dog.

4. Understand a dog’s body language
Barred teeth, growling and hair standing up on the back are some of the more obvious signs of a dog in distress, but another is yawning. Unlike humans, yawning is not a sign of relaxation in a dog.  Yawning is a dog’s way of trying to calm himself in an anxious situation.  For more information on body language, check out this video from the Human Society’s website.

5. Know what to do if an attack is eminent 
Stay calm, stand tall, avoid eye contact and give the dog something else to bite like a bag or tool. If the dog appears to back down, you can yell a strong command like “No,” “Away” or “Go Home.” If the dog does not appear to back down and you are attacked and fall to the ground, curl your body up and stay on the ground covering your ears and face until the attack is over or you are able to get away. The harder you fight back, the hard the dog will attack.

Make sure the schedulers note a customer’s account if there is a dog in the home, and have your team review the above points before visiting the job site. If you would like more information, please check out the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) website on dog bite prevention. Stay tuned for my next post on Offsite Safety.


“Preventing Dog Bites.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 18 May 2015. Web. 11 Apr. 2016. <http://www.cdc.gov/features/dog-bite-prevention/index.html>.