Dogs: When To Stay Away

Photo credit: The Hollywood Reporter

Moments before Max loses control. Photo credit: The Hollywood Reporter

By Sonia Horon, Global Animal

Many were shocked when morning news anchor Kyle Dyer was bit on the face by a rescued dog on a live broadcast on NBC News Denver. Max, an Argentine mastiff, was on the show to be reunited with the firefighter that saved him from drowning in icy water. Instead of witnessing this happy reunion, viewers at home got more than they expected.

Luckily there are lessons to be taken away from this unfortunate event that everyone can benefit from. Steps of precaution should always be taken whenever around an unfamiliar dog, regardless of whether the pup appears anxious or happy. If Dyer had known how to appropriately approach and handle Max, the morning show would most likely have had a better outcome.

Dogs are similar to humans when it comes to change: they get easily overwhelmed by new environments and unfamiliar situations. But dogs do differ from us in the ways in which they express their stress.

We might assume that it’s obvious when a dog is feeling anxious, but it can be tricky to spot. Many owners say that, at one point, their dog has bit someone completely out of nowhere. There is a certain etiquette everyone should follow around dogs that are not their own. 

Signs that a dog wants to be left alone:

  • The obvious ones are growling, barking, and showing teeth.
  • Be wary when fur is standing up.
  • It’s best not to approach if the dog is particularly still and staring at you.
  • A less obvious sign is a wagging tail. Most of us interpret this as a good intentioned, happy signal. But a very quick wagging, with a stiff tail may indicate the dog is not a happy camper.
Tips on what you should never do around a dog you don’t know:
  • Never get near a dogs face. You’re a stranger and a possible source of harm in the dog’s eyes. You wouldn’t get that close to a human you’ve never met before, and same goes for dogs.
  • Never look a dog in the eye. This is how dogs initiate fights between each other, so the dog might think you’re challenging him.
  • Don’t make sudden jerky movements.
  • Let a dog get used to you first. Let him smell you while you remain still.
  • Don’t start playing with a dog you’re not comfortable around. Dogs will often use their mouth in the same way we use our hands – to grab onto things. Therefore if you’re scared of a snapping jaw, don’t go into play mode.

As a courtesy to dogs and their guardians, these are good steps to try and follow. These simple preventative measures will go a long way in ensuring fewer dog-related accidents. Had Kyle Dyer and Max’s owner been aware that Max was possibly overwhelmed in front of the cameras, this misfortune could have been avoided.