Legislation changes that came into effect on 13 May 2014 mean that dog owners can now be prosecuted for having an out of control dog on private property. Energy company EDF Energy has contracted Battersea Dogs & Cats Home to minimise the risk of dog attacks upon their staff – with a training programme to teach EDF Energy meter readers how to be safe around dogs.

Going in and out of people’s houses can be stressful for meter readers who are not comfortable around dogs. Even those who like dogs don’t know how a particular dog is going to react to them. The training programme teaches meter readers how to interpret and react to a dog’s body language so as not to disturb or distress it, and how to defuse a situation if the dog becomes unpredictable.

Even the friendliest dogs can have a bad day, and seeing a stranger with a big box of tools in their territory can be disconcerting for a dog. This training teaches tradespeople the best methods of staying out of a dog’s way and minimising their chances of being bitten.

Brian Brady, canine welfare trainer at Battersea, said: “We have 300 staff, working with nearly 6000 dogs every year – yet we deal with hardly any incidences of dog bites as every single person who works at Battersea is trained in how to interpret a dog’s body language and how to defuse a situation if a dog becomes unpredictable. This training takes all of our expertise in understanding dogs and keeping them calm and teaches it to EDF Energy’s employees, so that they can take every precaution to avoid being bitten.”

Callum Edwards, technical trainer at EDF Energy, said: “As a dog owner myself, I thought I knew everything there was about dogs, but this course taught me more. I particularly liked the part about identifying if a dog is on site. The obvious signs are well known but there are subtle clues that are sometimes missed.”

In 2013, Battersea trained over 250 delegates from EDF Energy, and this number is set to grow throughout 2014.