Dog safety tips

​​​​​We've provided some tips below which aim to help everyone stay safe around dogs. Parents and teachers can also use these tips to teach children about dog safety. ​

​Dog safety tips

    1. If an unknown dog approaches you
    2. If you are approached by a threatening dog
    3. If you are attacked
    4. Minimising, avoiding and recognising aggressive behaviour​

​If an unknown dog approaches you 

  • Stand still, be like a tree.
  • Let the dog sniff you, this is how it gets to know you. 
  • Move slowly and speak softly - quick movements and loud voices can scare a dog.
  • Don't try to pat it, even if it seems friendly.
  • Don't run away.​​​
​​If you are approached by a threatening dog
  • Remain calm and still (like a tree). Quick movements and loud noises can cause a dog to react.
  • Keep hands by your sides.
  • Turn so you are 'side on' to the dog.
  • Keep the dog in sight but don't stare directly at it - look down at your feet or the dog’s feet.
  • Try firm and simple commands such as 'no', 'stay', 'down' or 'go home' in a calm voice.
  • Use the dog's name if you know it.
  • If you have a child with you, keep him or her behind you. Don’t pick your child (or dog) up.
  • Slowly and quietly back away from the dog, keeping it in sight.
  • If the dog is not acting (or stops acting) in a threatening way, confidently and quietly move away.

If you are attacked

Being attacked by a dog is a frightening experience. Our natural reactions to fear may make the situation worse (eg, running, waving arms, squealing and screaming) .

Practise the steps under 'if you are approached by a threatening dog' (see above) and the following steps - and teach them to your children.

  • Put an object between you and the dog, eg, a bag, parcel, bicycle, car door.
  • If a dog leaps at you, cover your face and neck with your hands and arms.
  • Don't turn your back or scream.
  • Never lie down.
  • If you are knocked down, lie down with your face down, curl up in a foetal position (roll up into a ball) and put your hands and arms over the back of your head and neck.
  • If a dog bites you, wash and disinfect the area and see a doctor as soon as possible.
  • Remember to take notice of the dog's details – eg, its breed, size and colour, any collar or tags - and the time, location and (if it ran off) the direction went.
  • Contact us​ to report the incident.​

Minimising, avoiding and recognising aggressive behaviour​

If a dog is barking, growling or snarling with its teeth showing, it is getting ready to bite. If its ears are laid back or its legs stiff and tail up, it is warning you. The hair on its back will also stand up.

A wagging tail does not always mean that the dog is happy or friendly.


  • face the dog head on, look it in the eye, run or scream
  • try to stop two dogs fighting - always seek help by phoning our Animal Education and Control Team
  • hurt a dog, eg, don't pull its ears or tail or jump on top of it
  • reach your hand into a car window or through a fence to pat a dog
  • enter someone's property until the dog's owner knows you’re there
  • bother a dog when it’s eating or sleeping
  • scream, wave your arms about or run away
  • make a dog feel trapped by cornering it or boxing it in (eg, by suddenly hugging or kissing it)
  • surprise a dog by creeping up on it
  • leave a dog alone with an infant or child
  • approach an unfamiliar dog without the owner’s permission.

Be very careful if you:

  • approach a dog playing with toys
  • approach a mother dog with her puppies
  • approach a dog with food.

Page reviewed: 09 Jun 2021 8:26am