Dog Safety Tips with Retired Ordinance Officer Dan Leonard

Prevent Bites with Simple Tips

Children are told not to talk to strangers, but the same caution isn’t always applied to unknown dogs. As a result, they are particularly vulnerable to dog bites, said Dan Leonard, who has taught dog safety to thousands of children as an ordinance officer for the Marshfield Police Department with the assistance of his German Shepherds.

All dogs have the potential to bite if they feel threatened. There are several tips to keep in mind to lower the chances of having negative encounter with a dog if one approaches and you’re not sure whether it’s friendly or not.

Carrie Gillaspie and Dan Leonard

Leonard shared these tips on a recent MCTV program, hosted by Carrie Gillaspie:

An Approaching Dog

Tip #1 – Stand Like a Tree

When a dog approaches, stand still and relaxed. The dog will assess you by your movements. Look over the top of the dog and not directly at the eyes, otherwise an aggressive dog will see it as a challenge and attack. Allow it to walk around you and find out that you’re not a threat.

Tip #2 – Lay on the Ground

A dog will assess your movements. Take that away by laying on the ground on your side, bringing your legs up, and covering your ears with your fists while tucking the head in.

Tip # 3 – Turn Around

Most of communication happens in the face. If a dog approaches and you’re not sure what to do, turn around very slow so that your back is to the dog. It is better to be bitten from behind than on the hand.

Petting a Dog

When children see a dog, it’s natural to want to pet it. Going about it the right way is important to lower the risk of a bite. Dogs are sensitive from the neck to the head, and they don’t want that area touched by a stranger (for example, being hugged around the neck). Here is the proper way to pet a dog:

Tip #1 – Ask Permission First

Permission to pet a dog should always be asked first from the dog owner, who knows how friendly their dog is and whether or not their dog is good with children. Even when permission is granted by its owner, remember that the dog still has to give it as well! Stand six feet away so if the dog is aggressive or a bully dog, you can take a step out of range.

Tip # 2 – Let the Dog Smell Your Hand

Show the dog your relaxed hand and let it smell the top of your fingers. Don’t offer your hand palm side up.

Tip # 3 – Start with the Chin

Pet the dog under the chin so they understand it’s okay and work your hand around to the back of the neck. Then you can pet the head.

Editor’s Note: These are just a few tips. For more information, check out some of the great resources online, such as the Best Friends website- click here.


Marshfield Police Ordinance Officer Dan Leonard To Retire


News Desk
Author: News Desk