Taking your dog for their daily walks is one of the pleasures of owning them but before heading off to the park or round the streets, it’s worth thinking about how you can both enjoy your walk and stay safe. Fortunately the risks are low but you can reduce them further by taking the following precautions.
• If walking in the park, consider meeting up with other dog walkers – it’s true what they say about safety in numbers (Covid restrictions permitting)
• If you do decide to walk alone, plan your route carefully and whenever possible let someone know where you are going and what time you expect to be back.
• Avoid using the same route and going at the same time every day.
• Aim to look confident and in control of both your dog and any situation you are in.
• Whilst it might be nice to take the quiet routes and feel like you have the place all to yourselves, it is always safer to stick to busy routes and busy times when there are plenty of other walkers about. If you are walking in a park, try to stay in open areas where you can see around you and be seen by other walkers.
• If you’re walking around the streets, ensure you walk towards oncoming traffic to avoid kerb crawlers.
• Avoid wearing headphones or chatting on your mobile phone when you are walking, as they prevent you from hearing danger approaching. You need to stay alert to your surroundings at all times because the sooner you become aware of potential danger the easier it is to avoid it.
• Think about carrying a personal alarm with you, which can be used to disorientate and shock an attacker. Make sure you have your dog on lead as the noise will upset them too.
• Always act on your instincts – if something looks or feels wrong it probably is, so don’t wait for your fears to be confirmed, get away from the situation as quickly as possible. This can also apply to your dog. If they uncharacteristically start growling/the hair on the back of their neck stands up in a situation, they could be sensing danger so take action to remove yourself from the situation.
• If you think you are being followed, trust your instincts and take action. As confidently as you can, change direction, cross the road, turning to see who is behind you. If you are still being followed, keep moving. Head to a busy area and tell people what is happening. If necessary, call the police.
The purpose of a personal safety alarm is to shock and distract an attacker, giving you vital seconds to get away. There are lots of different types and choosing the best one for you can sometimes be tricky. Here are some tips on how to make the right choice.
Sound: If an attacker is to be shocked enough to pull away from you, this sound needs to be as loud and as shrill as possible. It is a common misconception that alarms will attract others as, if there is no one around, or others are far from us, they may not be attracted to the sound. Also if a personal alarm pulsates like many car alarms, the sound may not be recognisable as an attack alarm. The most effective sound is continuous and over 130 decibels (approx 138db is ideal).
Easy to use. Your alarm needs to be easy to carry and easy to set off in one hand.
Activation: How would you operate the alarm in an emergency? There are many different ways to activate different types of alarms, including push caps, push buttons and pull out pins. How fiddly is it to activate it? Do you have problems using your hands or fingers? Can it be operated simply by being pushed against something?
WHEN & HOW TO USE AN ALARM
The primary function of an alarm is to distract an attacker.
Set off the alarm, holding it as close to the attackers face as possible.
Drop the alarm and make your escape. If it is by the attackers feet, it may also act as a visual distraction, as well as an audible distraction.
If you are able to attract the attention of passers- by, you are more likely to get help if you shout a specific instruction – such as “Call the police!” This makes it clear that you are in danger and need help.
Remember: Once you have set off your alarm, leave the situation as quickly as you can, moving to a busy area if possible. Don’t wait to check that your alarm has had the desired effect; just go.
What do you take with you to protect your safety?
WHAT TO DO IF YOUR DOG IS STOLEN
•After a physical attack call 999
•If you believe your dog has been stolen call Police on 101
•Contact the microchip database.
•Contact your local council animal warden.
•Register on DogLost.co.uk
•Get on social media
PS: If your dog disappeared today would you know where to find your microchip information?
Make your pet a contact in your phone and to keep their microchip number and database in a safe place for emergencies, with photos including distinctive markings.
Be #DogTheftAware and #KeepSave
Never leave your dog unattended outside shops, in your car or your garden. Keep your dogs close on walks and check your home security.