COPENHAGEN — If confronted with a snarling German Shepherd dog and you're afraid for the seat of your pants, don't despair, don't run away and above all, don't smile. Instead, squat and make munching noises.
That is the advice being given to 325 Danish postmen and meter readers who have signed up for a course on dog behavior designed to spare them any canine attacks while on the job.
According to the Danish postmen's union, 65 officials have been bitten this year because they failed to understand the body language of their four-legged opponents.
"But if you understand their language and know how to react, then the chances of being bitten are extremely thin," says Roger Abrantes, a dog psychologist leading the courses.
"If the dog is unsure of the person in front of him, then the worst thing you can do is smile, make big eyes and go toward it," says Abrantes who adds that this is the normal reaction of a human being.
But in dog body language, this behavior is aggressive since bared teeth and wide eyes show a dominant attitude and approaching a canine with such an attitude signals attack.
"Just get down on your haunches and make munching noises for half a minute or so. That will pacify the animal," Abrantes said.
The courses are being offered to those state and private sector employees whose job makes them most liable to attack.
"I'd been bitten three times before I went on the course. Now even the same dogs that went for me are tame when I deliver the mail," said Copenhagen postman Stig Jensen.