Dodging dog encounters during service calls


December 15, 2022

photo: Nataliia Dubnytska/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

This is not Lady, but it is a good likeness of her teeth and jaws. Photo: Nataliia Dubnytska/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

In my many years of dog encounters, I believe I am a pretty good assessor of body language, verbal cues and even the sometimes-deceitful tail wagging. However, dog handling is a profession, and these professionals have trained for years to hone their skills. I’m just a guy who visits a home once a quarter, so although I can feel out a situation fairly well, I urge you to not rely on my words alone.

I service a home where the German shepherd, Lady, absolutely goes crazy when I knock on the door. She snarls, barks and growls. Usually, Lady’s owner lets her out back so I can come in and perform the service. Then, as I leave through the front door, she is let in through the back door. Problem solved.

One day, only the customer’s teenaged daughters were home. Instead of the normal routine, Lady was (unhappily) behind a closed bedroom door. This setup was not to my liking, but the girls assured me all was fine.

I hadn’t even gotten my second shoe cover on when that bedroom door flew open, and the hallway filled with ferocious sounds that got louder by the second. Very quickly, but as smoothly as I could, I placed my handheld sprayer between Lady and me. It was a tense few moments.

I did not make eye contact with Lady, instead focusing on and speaking calmly and directly to the girls. My peripheral vision was all about the dog’s actions, and I made no sudden moves. I kept both hands on my sprayer handle and continued to keep at least some barrier between me and the dog.

Jerry Schappert

Jerry Schappert

When Lady realized that I was no threat to “her” girls, she slowly began to settle down, looking at them to figure out what to do next. The girls were laughing, and I calmly asked for them to lead her outside into her yard until I was finished with the service. Problem solved — except for how the heck I was going to put out ant bait with my now-shaking hands.

This was one encounter of oh-so-many. And of course, homeowners are just as untrustworthy as any unpredictable dog.

If flight is a reasonable option, then live to fight another day. Keep as unruffled as you can, because the best answer to any problem comes in over the calm seas of the mind, which is your biggest asset when dealing with any dog encounter.

Tips from the Pest Cemetery Crew

“Slap the gate and see whether a dog shows up. If it’s nice, proceed. If it’s not, leave a note.”
— Charlie Sims, Master Pest Control Technician, Cayce Exterminating, Cayce, S.C.

“People are often surprised when I tell them that dogs and driving are the biggest dangers on the job. And they’ve both only become worse since 2020.”
— Derek Allen, Technician, Wayfare Pest Solutions, Vancouver, Wash.

“Dog treats are always on the truck. Teeth-cleaning treats take dogs longer to eat.”
— Lynn Terry, Co-Owner, The Pest Detective, Brooklet, Ga.

“In 22 years of doing this, I’ve only had a couple dogs go after me. Every time, my cobweb-duster pole was the perfect defense: Hold it out in front of you, and the dog will rip the end off while giving you a chance to escape.”
— Steve Lipman, Technician, EcoGuard Pest Management, El Dorado Hills, Calif.

About the Author

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SCHAPPERT is owner of The Bug Doctor, Ocala, Fla., and administrator for Facebook industry discussion group Pest Cemetery. He may be reached at

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