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How Delivery Drivers Can Protect Themselves Against Dog Bites

Dog Bites

As a delivery driver, you face several risks on a daily basis. These include the risk of being bitten by a customer’s dog. Thousands of delivery drivers suffer dog bites each year, with consequences ranging from minor lacerations to serious injuries requiring surgery and resulting in permanent disabilities.

10 Steps to Reduce the Risk of Dog Bite Injuries for Delivery Drivers

To reduce their risk of suffering dog bite injuries, there are several steps delivery drivers can take to protect themselves. Some examples of these steps include:

1. Make Your Presence Known

When approaching a yard or home where a dog is (or may be) present, make your presence known. Do not assume that the dog heard your truck arrive. Honk your truck’s horn, knock, rattle the fence, say “Hello” or do anything else that gets the dog’s attention. By making your presence known, you are less likely to encounter a dog by surprise, and if a dog becomes aggressive once it knows you are there, you will know to stay away or try to contact the owner.

2. Don’t Startle a Dog

It is never a good idea to startle a dog—whether intentionally or unintentionally. When making your presence known, it is a good idea to try to do so as early as possible. As a delivery driver, one of the last things you want to do is get close to a dog that doesn’t know you are there.

3. Watch Unrestrained Dogs Carefully

If you have to make a delivery to a home with a dog that is unrestrained, watch the dog carefully the entire time you are on the premises. This is true whether the dog is in the yard or with the customer on the front porch. If you identify any signs of fear or aggression, keep your distance, and if you choose to continue with your delivery, be prepared for the possibility of an attack.

4. Do Not Attempt to Pet Customers’ Dogs

Delivery drivers should never attempt to pet customers’ dogs. While a dog may appear friendly, it could become agitated or feel threatened by unfamiliar physical contact. Interacting with an unfamiliar dog significantly increases the risk of injury (including the risk of injury from an inadvertent or “playful” bite), so it is best to just stay focused on the task at hand.

Additionally, if a delivery driver interacts with multiple dogs throughout the day, the driver will carry these dogs’ scents from one house to the next. These unfamiliar scents could also make dogs feel territorial or threatened, and this could lead to a sudden and unprovoked attack.

5. Ask Customers Who Are Present to Restrain Their Dogs

If you are making a delivery to a home with an unrestrained dog and the customer is present, you should not hesitate to ask the customer to restrain their pet. The reality is that the customer should already be doing this without a request. Once the dog appears to be restrained, confirm with the customer that this is the case, and then proceed with your delivery.

6. Remain Calm and Avoid Staring

If a dog senses fear or aggression, this has the potential to trigger an attack. As a result, even if you feel unsafe, it is generally best to remain calm. It is also generally best to avoid staring directly at a dog. According to various experts, dogs take staring as a sign of aggression, and dogs that sense aggression (rightly or wrongly) are more likely to bite.

7. Stand Your Ground if Attacked

If you get attacked by a dog, in most cases, it is best to stand your ground. For example, the USPS advises its mail carriers to “stand their ground and protect their body by placing something between them and the dog — such as their mail satchel — and use dog repellent, if necessary.” In contrast, running away is rarely, if ever, the best option. If you run, the dog will most likely either (i) think you are playing and keep “playing” along or (ii) sense fear and continue its pursuit.

8. Block Outward-Swinging Doors

When delivering a package to a customer’s front door, it is important not to put yourself in a position where you could get knocked over if a dog pushes the door open. By blocking an outward-swinging door with your foot or shoulder, you can decrease your risk of getting knocked down and attacked by the customer’s dog.

9. When In Doubt, Prioritize Your Safety

As a delivery driver, you need to prioritize your safety. If you feel scared or concerned for any reason, you should not proceed to an area where you are at risk for being attacked by a dog. You can follow your company’s policy regarding contacting the customer or calling your supervisor, but you should not feel pressured to put yourself in a potentially dangerous situation.  

10. Never Assume a Dog Won’t Bite

Finally, one of the most common mistakes that lead to dog attacks against delivery drivers is assuming that a dog won’t bite. Dogs are instinctual and unpredictable, and even familiar and well-trained dogs will attack in many cases. As a delivery driver, your safety always comes first, and there is no reason to put yourself in harm’s way.

Unfortunately, while delivery drivers can take steps to mitigate their risk, they cannot protect themselves entirely. If a customer is not a responsible dog owner, or if a dog attacks out of instinct, there may be nothing a driver can do to protect himself or herself from serious injury.

Contact Us for a Free Consultation about Your Dog Bite Injury Claim in Ohio

If you have been attacked by a dog as a delivery driver, you may be entitled to significant financial compensation. With offices in Columbus, we represent delivery drivers in workers’ compensation and personal injury cases across Ohio. To discuss your legal rights with an attorney in confidence, please call 888-444-7440 or request a free consultation online today.