Two dog attacks on water meter readers in Clarence
OVER centuries dogs have earned their reputation as 'man's best friend', but if you're a council worker they can make life difficult.
After a few close calls involving outdoor council staff and the employment of new rangers, Clarence Valley Council enlisted the help of internationally-renowned canine trainer Steven Austin, border collie Chilli and german shepherd Django, who visited Grafton on Tuesday to educate the council staff on dog behaviour and how reading their body language can help avoid a hairy situation.
"We're educating people how not to be bitten but if you do, how to handle it," Mr Austin said.
"The breed of dog isn't the issue - it's reading the dog's body language and how they're treated."
Clarence Valley Pound supervisor Phillip Townsend said the course was organised for all outdoor council staff after two recent dog attacks on water meter readers, including one last week where a man was bitten on the behind.
He said the council's water meter readers estimated it happened in their line of work once every three months on average.
"This one day course is highly adapted to council staff; it's all about keeping our field staff safe," Mr Townsend said.
Mr Austin said the biggest mistake people made in the event of a dog attack was to try and fight it off, which could lead to more damage.
Yelling, screaming, and kicking, and looking them in the eye can also do more harm than good.
Instead you should divert your eyes, turn away from the animal and try to slowly walk away.
"It's really important to keep calm and quiet around animals," he said.
"If a dog is snarling or scared, don't go near it.
"If a dog is watching you through a fence with hard staring eyes, turn around and walk away."
And a valuable message for anyone who wants to pat a dog with its owner - let it come to you.
"Too many people still believe that if you stick your hand up for them to smell then it's okay," he said.
"Dogs have an excellent sense of smell and already have you pegged by the time you go near them.
"Stand side-on, gently pat your leg and call the dog's name, and wait for it to come to you."