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What to Do if You Are Attacked By a Dog



furious dogWe have this notion that dogs are just friendly, cuddly pets that chase their own tail, eat bugs, and generally act like doofuses. So, you know, we think they’re basically the little boys of the animal world. But their instincts are still those of wolves. They can tap into said instincts with little or no warning and suddenly the cute dog trotting around the yard is snarling and gnashing its teeth. A few things can cause this, but knowing how to avoid a problem in the middle of one does no good, so let’s talk a little bit about what to do if you’re attacked by a dog.

Most dog attacks are a result of either intruding on a strange dog’s territory or the consequence of abuse. An unhappy number of dog owners train their pets to be little more than a very aggressive burglar alarm, going so far as starving them and beating them to make them mad and aggressive to the point that they’ll attack any and everyone that comes by. Realizing that you’ve stepped into an area with a guard dog leaves you with the option of either taking a chance or just turning around and removing yourself from the situation. When given the option, always choose the latter as an avoid altercation has a 0% chance of injury to yourself or the animal, whereas actually engaging in a fight will always result in harm to one or both of you.

Leaving a dog’s personal space isn’t just as simple as sprinting in the opposite direction though. If a dog has shown clear signs of aggression and you’ve already invaded its turf, you need to make away slowly without any sudden movements. Basically you don’t want to show that you’re a threat as they’re just looking for a reason to run you down and tear you to pieces. Don’t give them cause for action and move away while still keeping a careful watch on them without making eye contact. Speak slowly and calmly as you do, saying things like “go home now” or “I’m not a threat” so that they get a general sense that you’re not there for trouble.

Other times you should just know better than to freak out a strange dog, so don’t go around waking up a sleeping dog when it’s minding its own business, don’t pester dogs you don’t know, and don’t sneak up on a dog that seems to be tense. Sometimes when you have a dog that’s unsure of you, it just needs a chance to smell you first, so if the dog isn’t snarling and barring its teeth, you may just need to let it sniff you out and decide whether you’re a threat or not.

Still, despite your best attempts, there’s a chance the pooch could throw all civility to the wind and make the decision to attack. You can tell this is about to happen as they will have a crazy look in their eyes, they’ll start drooling, and the fur around their neck and the ridge of their back will be standing up. Again, making eye contact can be part of the problem as dogs view that as a sign of aggression, so be aware that you may be inviting the attack just by staring into their freaked out eyes.

Once the dog has squared you up and decides to attack, be sure to keep it in front of you at all times as exposing your back will make you a much easier target and you don’t need to give them any more of an advantage than they already have. You’re not going to be able to outrun most dogs either, so put that notion out of your head unless you have an extremely short distance to sprint or see a tree just a few steps away.

During the attack, your instincts will tell you to run- which we mentioned won’t work- and also to lash out with punches and kicks. You’d assume that like any other animal, a good punch or kick would set them straight, but when a dog has hit the point of no return, they aren’t feeling much pain, plus their skulls are stupidly solid. You’re more likely to just hurt yourself even more than to hurt the dog in any way. No amount of pummeling will cause a dog that’s latched on to a victim suddenly let go short of knocking them completely unconscious with a severe blow to the head of via choking them out, and neither option is likely in the moment.

If the dog has rushed you and is barring down hard, your best defense is to curl up into a ball and protect your neck and head. Also, and this may be extremely hard, don’t scream or make a lot of noise. Doing so will only encourage the dog to keep going, but remaining as still and as quiet as possible will hopefully have the desired effect of causing the dog to grow bored and lose interest in you.

Alternatively, a stun gun can be effective, though not necessarily when used. Rather, just the sound of the stun gun can cause the dog to back away and decide to leave you alone. Better yet, pepper spray or mace is just as efficient when used against dogs as it is against humans, so if you have a can, be ready to use it and use it well.

Despite their primal instincts, dogs are still some of the most loving animals on the face of the Earth, and the majority of dogs would never hurt anyone as long as they live. Raising them properly with love and affection and proper discipline will go the furthest to preventing an attack, but always be ready in the back of your mind should something terrible happen.


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