When Attacked by a Dog

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What to Do When Attacked By a Dog

Recently, while walking with my dog, Juno, I suddenly became aware of two dogs charging in our direction, teeth bared, hair up on their backs and clearly ready to attack.Juno charged forward when she saw the dogs coming. Luckily I had her on the lead and held her back.

Trying to restrain a big dog on the attack and stopping two others coming at you, is no easy matter. Fortunately I was able to whip out my pepper spray and sent the two packing, quickly ending what could have been quite a nasty encounter.

This is especially true when dogs form a pack in attacking. In fact, each year, we read of several people who die of dog bites and many more are permanently disfigured as a result of serious dog attacks.

This set me thinking about what to do when attacked by a dog if you are alone and do not have anything for protection.

It is very important to consider the following:

Every dog has the capacity to bite!

Even dog trainers can get bitten. I have scars  to prove it.

Any bite wound is potentially dangerous. Up to 20% of dog bite wounds become infected.

Some dogs are fearful of strangers and especially children.

Dogs must be taught to like children. 70% of dog bite victims are under 10 years of age.

Pet owners, by not taking their dogs for obedience training when they are young, are mostly responsible for inappropriate aggression in puppies and what they become when they grow up.

Dogs will bite when they are fearful of strangers on their property. Also when they are cornered, injured or in pain.
They are more likely to bite when teased and provoked, chased or their food or bones are interfered with.

Bites can be prevented by following the following basic rules such as:

Don’t enter a property without ensuring that it is safe from a guarding dog.

Don’t pet or hug strange dogs without the owner’s assurance that it is safe to do so.

Don’t run away from a dog approaching you.

Don’t try to touch a chained dog.

Don’t play with or pick up puppies while the brooding bitch is nearby.

Don’t tease or hit a dog.

What to do when a dog shows aggression:

When a dog comes charging at you and is territorial, it simply wants you to go away. Stop, stay calm and turn towards the dog. Do not shout or scream, “Go away” or say anything as the dog approaches you unless you know the dog and what its owner uses in controling him. As you face the dog, your first reaction should be a firm, confident, “NO!!!” to try and stop the dog with your voice.
Most dogs have had some training and know what, “No” means. Screaming  in a high pitched voice has the opposite effect of inciting the dog.

If the hair on the dog’s back is also raised near the tail it indicates a nervous dog that lacks confidence and is likely to stop, bark at you and circle around to get you from behind. Turn as you continue to face the dog in order to prevent an attack from behind. Remain as calm as possible. Do not shout but try, “Go home” in a firm voice.

After a while it may become possible to SLOWLY back away from the dog’s territory. No matter how scared you are, do not turn and run away!!! You cannot out run a dog, its “prey drive” will kick in and you will most likely get bitten.

Folding your arms in front of your chest, avoiding direct eye contact and becoming a “statue” will work for most dogs. They will stop barking, slowly close in, smell you and after a while will continue on their way when they see that you hold no threat. This is what is likely to happen in 90% of the cases. We hope.

When the dog attacks:

Try to avoid being bitten at all costs because human skin cannot withstand the slightest of dog bites. If you have pepper spray or mace, use it!!!! The problem often is that your dogs are the target of attack and they in turn will want to protect you. Picking up a small dog may help but bigger faster dogs may be able to outrun the attacker. In any case their skins are tougher and will withstand bites better than when restricted by you. This may also give you an opportunity to get a weapon to attack the aggressor. It is useful to have  something to hold infront of you for protection such as an umbrella, purse, a tennis racket, books, satchel or a walking stick. The idea is not to hit the dog but to prevent being bitten by him.
If you saw it coming and had time to wrap a jacket or towel around your left arm, you can shove it into the dog’s jaw. If there is more than one dog do not allow either to get behind you.

More difficult to handle is a dog that has been trained to bite legs. Police trained dogs soon learn that leg bites are more successful than arm bites. Kicking at the dog can cause you to lose your balance and fall down. If this should happen, the best to do would be to curl up in a ball with your hands clasped behind your neck and your arms and elbows protecting your face, neck and throat. If possible, lying motionless and quiet is best. Screaming, kicking and waving of arms may incite the dog into further biting.

Be Prepared:

Make sure your dogs are trained and properly socialised.

Children must be taught how to be calm with young dogs.

Teach children how to approach dogs and what dangerous dogs may look like; growling, teeth bared and lips raised, hairs raised
on the back, ears back and the warning tail up over the back and swinging from side to side.

If you know of a dangerous dog and have to walk past his property, you should carry a spray such as pepper spray or liquid bullets and have it ready in your hand to use. If the dog is out and charges, you will not have time to search your pockets or find it in your handbag.

Peper spray is readily available from local shops and the AA.




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