A dog stopped play today during the first day of the second Test between England and India. While the cricket fans may not have been happy that play was disturbed, what was more disturbing to us was the way the groundsman tried to remove the dog from the pitch. After initial attempts to lure the dog by some of the players were unsuccessful, a groundsman took off his shoe and threw it at at the dog.
What could have been done differently here? How could the welfare of the dog been better cared for?
Firstly, everyone could have stopped and looked at the body language of the dog. Was this an animal trying to run amok? No, it was a dog who’d somehow ended up on the pitch (some reports say the dog had been living in the stadium grounds) and was petrified, trying to find a way out. They then could have given the dog space – removing the pressure and reducing the dog’s fears. Using high value food, they could have motivated it towards the exists without adding force.
This may have happened on a cricket pitch, but I’m sure some of you have been in a similar situation when encountering a lost or stray dog while out walking. I know I have. And it can be very difficult to encourage a scared dog towards you. They may have a history of negative behaviour from humans or they may just be shut down due to the stress of losing their way. So here’s a few top tips of how to help a stray or lost dog:
- Use your body language to help the dog. Don’t approach the dog face on. Crouch down low with your body at an angle away from the dog, averting your gaze. Allow the dog to approach in their own time and sniff your outstretched hand.
- Offer treats if safe to do so. If the dog seems to respond to you, you can try to first throw tasty treats towards the dog. Don’t force them to come and take the treat immediately from your hand. If they aren’t happy to approach you fully, keep throwing treats away from any potential dangers (such as a road) so you can keep them in a safe area.
- Try asking them to do a commonly cued behaviour. If the dog is lost, it may well have a loving family at home. Many dogs know how to “sit” or “come”/”here”. Try saying one of these words and if the dog does it, give them calm praise and throw more treats. By working with you on tasks, you will increase their trust in you.
- Calmly contain the dog. If you have a spare lead or something else you can attach to the dog’s collar (if they’re wearing one), try to get close enough to the dog to attach this. A shoelace, belt or bag strap can be used if you don’t have a lead on you. Remember the collar area on a dog is the number one area for dog bites to occur from being grabbed. Be calm and take this at the dog’s pace.
- Your safety first. Look at the body language and be wary of dog’s showing teeth or growling. While we always want to help every dog, growling or showing teeth are a high level threat that could predict that the dog will bite if you approach. In this situation, keep the dog in sight and call a local rescue centre, dog warden or the police who will be able to send someone with the tools to help contain the dog.
- Always put a collar and tag on your dog. Can you imagine being the one who’s lost their dog? Reduce the chances of this happening by making sure your dog is properly identified – put your phone number and family name on their tag so you can be easily reached.