When attacked by a dog

What to do when attacked by a dog

Any day we run the risk of encountering stray dogs when out walking or running.

Some of these dogs can sometimes display unpredictable behaviour and be extremely aggressive and unfriendly. Being attacked by a vicious dog can be terrifying and potentially life threatening. Dog attacks can happen at any time, so it’s always good to be prepared.

Dog bites are fairly common; however, being mauled (repeatedly bitten) by a dog is rare. Children are more susceptible to dog attacks than adults are. See “Dog Bites.”

If a dog approaches you barking furiously, it is most likely only defending its territory and wants you to leave. Stand still and face the dog. If it stops in front of you barking, you need to wait patiently until he stops barking, his head lowers or he looks sideways, and slowly moves away before you begin to move.

It is strongly believed that dogs can sense human fear. However, you can hardly keep calm when an aggressive dog is growling and barking at you. If you scream, wave your arms, or run away, you can trigger the dog’s prey instinct and provoke an attack. If one dog in a pack starts an attack, the rest will automatically join in.

Joggers are sometimes attacked and may not even see it coming. If that happens to you during a run, slow down to a walk. Turn and walk in the opposite direction of the dog, keep watching him out of the corner of your eye. Standing still with arms stretched along the sides of your body could have the dog lose interest in you and walk away.

It’s important to consider the following

Every dog has the capacity to bite!

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

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 mostly be prevented by following some basic rules such as:

Not entering a property without ensuring that it is safe from a guarding dog.

First get the owner’s assurance that it is safe to pet or hug his dog.

Never run away from a dog approaching you.

Do not 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 if the dog shows aggression

If a dog growls at you, bears its teeth, and takes an attacking stance, here are some things to do.

  1. Stay calm. Do not shout.
  2. Do not run away.
  3. Do not make eye contact.
  4. Turn sideways and use your peripheral vision to watch the dog.
  5. If there is someone nearby, in a calm manner, without shouting, ask for help.
  6. Pretend to ignore the dog. Do not try to calm it down or to smile. 
  7. Cross your arms.
  8. Stay still for a short time and then move away slowly.
  9. Try to move to a place that is higher ground and where there is something between you and the dog. It is harder to bite you from below and when some barrier is in the way.

When the dog attacks

If you saw it coming and you have something that you can use for protection such as a satchel, an umbrella, coat or books, hold it in front of you as you face the dog.

Much depends on the dog’s size and your experience. If you can get hold of the dog’s collar it may be possible to keep it away from your body.

  1. Use a jacket, purse, backpack, or anything you have to give the dog something to go after, so it does not go after you.
  2. If possible, use your jacket to cover its head so it cannot see.
  3. Try to wrap something around your weakest arm to protect your arteries.
  4. Use this forearm to block the dog, not the inside part of the arm where the blood vessels are located.
  5. Keep both hands in a fist to protect your fingers.
  6. Use your stronger arm to punch the dog with full force in the nose, muzzle or eyes.
  7. Kick it in the rib cage area. This is a place where a dog is very sensitive.
  8. If it lunges at you, move out of the way to deflect the attack and then grab it and body slam it to the ground using your full body weight. If you can “knock the wind” out of the animal you will have a better chance of getting away.

When bitten

  1. Resist the temptation to pull away. That will tear your flesh more.
  2. With your free hand, pick up the dog by its back legs; this usually will cause it to release.
  3. Then, body slam it to the ground with full force.
  4. Wounds must be rinsed with clean water and a swab of alcohol.
  5. Go to the hospital for attention and a possible rabies injection if you have not had one within the last 5 years.  Dogs are responsible for 99% of rabies in people and there is no known cure for it.
  6. Report the bite to your local animal care and control agency. Tell them everything you know about the dog. If the dog is a stray tell the officer what the dog looks like, where you saw him, whether you have seen him before etc.

What to do if you are knocked down.

  1. Guard yourself and your vital organs.
  2. Roll up in a ball with your arms covering the back of your neck, your head, and your throat.
  3. Stay a still as possible. The more you move; the more bites you will probably receive.
  4. Play dead until the dog loses interest.

Be prepared

Make sure your dogs are trained and properly socialized.

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

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

Tips in this article are from Clint Emerson – a former Navy Seal and other recommendations were taken from well known dog trainers – Victoria Stilwell and Cesar Millan’s TV series.