Dog Attack Prevention

Learning objectives

  • Recognize that failure to prevent dog attacks can lead to injury or death
  • Describe actions that can protect against dog attack
  • Identify what to do if threatened, attacked, or bitten by a dog
  • Explain supervisor responsibilities regarding dog attack prevention

Course overview

Although every dog has the capacity to bite, some breeds that are known for their guarding ability have the potential to be more dangerous. Electrical workers prepared with knowledge to actively respond to situations involving a dog attack can save a lot of grief. Your utility crew members need to know about these breeds and be able to identify them.

Most Popular Breeds of Guard Dogs

  • Akita

  • Belgian Malinois

  • Bouvier Des Flandres

  • Chinese Shar Pei

  • Chow Chow

  • Doberman Pinscher

  • German Shepherd

  • Pit Bull Terrier

  • Rottweiler

Best Practices When Dealing With Dog Encounters


  • Treat all dogs, no matter what the breed, or size, as a potential threat.

  • Keep coding of dogs on all customer accounts up to date.

  • Review each customer account coding before accessing the property to see if there may be dogs on the premises.

  • If warranted, contact the customer the day before, or the day of, entering the property to remove or restrain the dog—this is especially important if you feel threatened by the animal

  • If the situation looks dangerous, workers should not perform the service, but leave the area and contact a supervisor.

When arriving at a property, check for signs of a dog such as:

  • Chains or ropes tied to a tree

  • Dog food

  • Bones

  • Water bowl

  • Doghouse

Plan Ahead

  • Have a plan before entering a property where there is a dog.

  • Have utility employees know in advance where they are going, what they will be doing there, and where they will go to get out if needed.

  • Workers need to be prepared before leaving the protection of their vehicle or entering a yard.

It’s crucial that workers respect the dog’s territory and avoid dangerous situations such as dogs that are chained, eating, sleeping, or caring for puppies. When approaching property where workers may encounter a dog, they should make noise to alert the dog of their presence.

Employees should not offer food to a dog. Offering food does not guarantee a dog will not bite, and feeding a dog may provide a positive association but will not change a dog’s behavior if it is already in an aggressive state. Remember, too, that some dogs are on strict diets—workers wouldn’t want to hurt them unintentionally and create liability for their employers at the same time. Also, instruct employees to never pet a dog, even if it appears to be friendly.

Several items of personal protective equipment (PPE) may assist in the prevention of dog bites. Wearing long pants may offer some protection against bites from small dogs. Using a dog-repellant spray is an effective means of protection against most dogs. Always carry protective sprays or devices and be ready to use them, if necessary. Workers should know how to carry, store, and use the protective spray equipment before encountering a potentially dangerous situation.

Another way workers can protect themselves is by learning to understand basic canine behavior, body language, and the warning signs of a possible attack.

What Not To Do

  • Never run past a dog or turn the back on a dog and run away.

  • Never make direct eye contact.

  • Never move arms swiftly.

  • Never raise hands in any manner.

What To Do

If the dog threatens:

  • Stop, stand very still, don’t move, and try to be calm.

  • Don’t scream and run—if running, dog will chase.

If the dog comes up to sniff:

  • Stand still.

  • Let it—in most cases the dog will go away when it decides a person isn’t a threat

If the dog stops near:

  • Say “no”.

  • Tell it to “GO HOME” in a deep, firm voice.

  • Stay still until the dog leaves, and then back away slowly until it is out of sight.

If a dog does attack:

  • Give it a jacket, book, clipboard, or anything else that may distract it.

  • Let it bite something else instead of the worker.

If a worker falls or is knocked down:

  • They should curl into a ball with their hands over the head and neck.

  • Keep fists closed.

  • Protect face, chest, and stomach by tucking knees to chest and tucking elbows to knees.

  • Do not scream or roll around.

If a dog bites:

  • Wash wounds with plenty of warm, soapy water or saline solution, quickly.

  • Cover the bite area with a clean, dry dressing.

  • Get medical treatment, if needed.

  • Report the incident to a supervisor.

  • Remember what the dog looked like and where it went to describe to authorities—this is important if it becomes necessary to rule out a rabies infection.

  • Code the customer’s account with up-to-date information.

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