Gary Overs, a Moose Jaw-area dog obedience trainer and national obedience competitor, visited Canada Post workers on May 30 to give them training on how to interact with dogs — and especially how not to get bitten.
“They reached out to me a year ago because their frequency of bites to their [mail] carriers has gone up,” Overs explained in an interview with MooseJawToday.com. “So, I did one last year, and this year they asked me to come back again for a review.”
Overs said he and a local veterinarian used to do bite prevention training in local schools, because while things like ‘Stop, Drop, and Roll’ might be common knowledge, reacting to a dog attack is not.
Postal workers can’t really afford not to know that particular skill, Overs pointed out.
“I’ve been professionally training dogs for over 40 years now,” he said. “We compete at a very high level, my dog Tuck and I. He’s a Golden Retriever, and he just turned three. He’s a very, very good obedience dog, he’s at the highest obedience level he can be trained to.”
Overs runs Gary Overs Kennelling & Obedience, which has been one of Moose Jaw’s top pet centres since 1991, providing grooming, nutrition consultations, basic training, and boarding. In 2006, Overs opened Gary Overs K-9 Academy, which takes obedience training to the next level for interested owners and pets. Overs and Tuck are nationally ranked in obedience, field, and hunting trials, and his wife Shelley trains Tuck for agility, a sport he holds two additional titles in.
More information on Overs' business is at www.garyoverspetcare.ca.
Owners should help delivery workers stay safe
Jen Tribier, a local area supervisor with Canada Post, said in an email that while they love dogs, they need the public’s help in keeping their employees safe.
Canada Post advises Canadians to help out with the following basics:
- Don’t let your dog get past you when answering the door.
- Keep dogs inside, in a fenced yard, or tied up where they can’t reach anyone on official business who needs to get to the front door or mailbox.
- Keep front doors and fence gates closed.
- Keep the dog away from the screen door, even if it is locked — many dogs are more than strong to get through a screen if they are agitated enough.
How to be safe as a delivery person
For delivery workers on the other side of the interaction, Overs said the first thing is to read the situation. Rattle the fence or door before entering a property to give the dog notice you’re there, then assess the animal’s attitude.
“You have to read the dog. If it’s charging you, is it stopping 10 feet from you to size you up or bark? Or is he full on committed to coming at you and biting you?”
Overs said many dogs are just putting on a show, usually out of fear. A strange person is entering their space and their reaction is defensive.
“Quite often, they’ll stop, hit the brakes. If they’re barking at you and their ears are pinned back, chances are you’re not going to get bit, and at that point in time you would look straight at them and just try and back yourself away.”
If the dog continues to be aggressive, it is vital to show them you aren’t a victim — face them, be loud and intimidating, and do not let them circle behind you, Overs advised. Back away slowly rather than turning to run.
If a dog attacks, be prepared to fight.
“You offer the dog something other than yourself to bite. Whatever’s closest to them that you put out, that’s what they’ll bite, so you would offer them something with your weak hand … and that way you have your strong hand to defend yourself.”
A package, hat, or anything else that comes to hand should go between you and the dog. If the dog gets hold of you, you fight. Do not hit their heads — they’re ready for that and will fight harder. Strike their spine, their throat, their eyes. Kick and punch and yell, because dog attacks pose a serious threat to life and limb.
“The biggest thing I want people to understand is to do the proper thing for their dogs,” Overs added. “Put the time in, train your dog right, take obedience classes, and that way you can enjoy your dog because it has a proper upbringing and a foundation in training.
“It’s no different than a young child being traumatized. Don’t take your dog to the dog park for socialization, where they’re going to get beat up or bullied and be affected for the rest of their life. Good dogs are made, not necessarily just born.”