In The Doghouse: Overcoming the Biggest Threat to Process Servers

It’s safe to say that the life of a process server is one that’s pretty fraught with risks and potential dangers, but some are more common and indeed inevitable than others. It’s nice to think that we live in a day and age where people are becoming more and more civilised by the day; while a moderate understanding of the way the legal system works is also seen as relatively common.

Sadly though, all the civility in the world doesn’t detract from the fact that even the best process servers in the country from companies like will from time to time stare at a sticky situation right in the face. And in this instance, the sticky situation being stared down is a rather mean looking mutt.

The thing is, if you go trespassing on someone else’s property where man’s best friend is doing the rounds, you might end up on the receiving end of his or her temper. The owners could direct the dog to attack, they may be powerless to stop it or they might not even be anywhere near home at the time – in any and all cases you need to know how to act.

Of course, all dogs are different and so too are the potential scenarios a process server might face, but as far as those that have been in the field their whole lives are concerned, these are the tips to bear in mind when you worry you’re about to become a dog’s dinner:

Don’t Sneak In

If you tiptoe toward the property ignoring the warning signs along the way, then by the time the dog notices you’re there chances are he’ll be startled and aggressive. If there’s likely to be a do anyone in or around the property, be sure to make plenty of noise on your approach and make sure he knows you’re around. You’re better of finding out he’s a manic while you’re on the safe side of the gate!

Dogs aren’t always a man’s best friend

Move Slowly

In the same vein, fast or sudden movements can rub dogs up the wrong way and trigger dangerous aggression. So whether it’s as you first enter the property or once you’ve caught glimpse of the prized pooch, be sure to make your movements as slow and un-startling as possible.

Safe Distance

Ideally, you want to be keeping a good 10 to 15 feet away from the dog at all times, regardless of how this might mean you have to make something of a diversion along the way. In essence, you need to make sure there’s enough space between you and him for you to react if he decided to make a move for you. For this reason, don’t ever try the wholly ineffective tip of getting down on all fours!

Dogs need to feel like you’re not being aggressive to them

Hold Still and Be Investigated

Once you’re just a few metres from the dog, keep talking and allow it to head over to you in order to investigate you for itself. This immediately instils a sense of calm and makes the dog feel less threatened, while the more you talk the more it will get used to your voice and associate it with someone passive.

Look Away

Like quite a few human beings out there, dogs see prolonged eye contact as a sign of aggression and territorial dominance. By contrast, if you look slightly to the side of the dog rather than right into its eyes, they see this as more of a submissive sign and won’t view you as a challenge.

Hands Out

When the dog makes its way over to you to give you a good sniffing, offer your hand with the palm facing you and the back facing him. The reason being that the back of the hand is seen as far less threatening to the vast majority of animals, plus it’s also less likely that you’ll end up with nibbled fingers if you do it this way around.

Hands Still

At the same time, if your hand is being sniffed out by the dog, then any movement at all could be interpreted as a sign of aggression. So for these moments at least, keep your hand as still as you possibly can until he’s done.

Don’t Run!

If the dog starts to growl or bears its teeth, do not under any circumstances give in to the temptation to run. Really this is the worst thing you could do as it’s almost guaranteed to chase and attack you. Instead, remain calm and back off as slowly as possible.