Pssssst. Hey, you. Over here. No! Over here. Shhhhhhhh. Quiet, goddammit. They’ll hear us. They can smell us. They’re probably stalking us right now. We gotta move. Leave the kids. They’ll only slow us down. On second thought, get the kids. They’ll get eaten first. This is survival of the fittest. These are deadly animals. And this is how to survive an attack.
I’ll start by saying that this is a dog friendly blog. The contributors here own dogs, love dogs, and believe most dogs are very good boys. But some dogs are NOT good boys. In fact, dogs kill more people per year than any other mammal. And take it from me, someone who just spent 3 hours watching dog attacks on sketchy websites, you do not want to fuck with an aggressive dog.
Attacks are fast and vicious. With 30 mph speed and a devastating bite force, dogs can tear flesh from bone as quickly as you can pull rib meat off a baby back. Autopsies of victims often reveal deliberate damage to the head and neck, which means man’s best friend is also an instinctual killer. They’re determined, too, reportedly breaking down doors and outmuscling several people at once to continue an assault. If you want to protect yourself, your kids, and your own dog from becoming a victim, step 1 is knowing how to identify a dangerous dog.
1. Know How to Identify an Aggressive Dog
There are two types of canine aggression: defensive aggression and dominance aggression. Assessing and identifying which type of aggression the dog is displaying will dictate your next move.
A defensive aggressive dog is protective or fearful. He’s frightened and often defending something. Maybe you’ve entered his turf or he’s protecting his kibble, a prized rawhide or his family. He might be injured or sick. A defensive aggressive dog looks like he’s just been punished and will likely display the following behavior:
- Avoiding eye contact
- Standing his ground or slowly backing away
- Putting his tail between his legs
- Lowering his head
A dog displaying dominance aggression is not fearful and will demonstrate this with the following actions:
- Low range barking
- Growling, snarling or snapping
- Moving toward you
- Maintaining eye contact
2. If the Dog is Defensive, Calmly but Confidently Back Off
Dogs are expert people readers. They have mastered human behavior to a point where they can treat PTSD and other psychiatric disorders. So during any unfriendly interaction with a dog, it’s important to send the right message, which in this case is, “I am not a threat, and I am not prey.”
Begin by backing away from the dog but continue to face him. Never show your back and never run, as doing so could ignite his predatory instinct and provoke an attack. To avoid appearing threatening, keep your hands to your side, avoid direct eye contact and don’t show your teeth.
A defensive dog wants as little to do with you as you do with him and usually will only attack out of fear if you continue to approach. Back away, and he’ll be more than happy to let you retreat. A dominant dog, however, is a much different animal.
3. If the Dog is Dominant, Scan Your Environment
Look for either a) a safe place like a dumpster or the top of a car, or b) an object to absorb a potential bite like a stick or your ball cap.
If you find a safe place, calmy retreat towards the area. If there’s no safe place in sight and you have nothing to put between you and the dog, wrap a shirt around your non-dominant forearm and prepare for an attack.
4. If the Dog Attacks, Stay Upright, Put Something Between You and His Jaws
You have two advantages over a dog: height and weight. Use that height to keep your head and neck out of reach. In many attacks, the dog will charge and jump in an attempt to take his victim to the ground. Do your best to stay on your feet. Then get something between you and his jaws. At the very worst, give him the forearm of your non dominant hand. This will keep your good hand free to disable the dog.
5. Disable the Dog
A fight with a dog is a fight for you life, so you will need to get violent. The following techniques will inflict maximum damage and could be enough to get the dog to retreat.
Strike his nose. A dog’s snout is made of sensitive soft tissue. So if he’s got a hold of you and you’ve managed to stay on your feet, target his snout instead of his skull.
Strike his throat. Push on his trachea to activate his gag reflex. This can often get the dog to release his bite.
Yank his balls. There’s a story about a wolf biologist who was attacked by a wolf in Colorado. Even with an intimate knowledge of the animal, he could not free himself from the bite. What finally got him loose? His assistant grabbed the wolf by the balls and yanked. Approximately 92% of fatal dog attacks involve male dogs, 94% of which aren’t neutered. There’s a good chance your attacker has balls, so if you get a shot at that coin purse, rip it right off.
Target his forelegs. A dog’s forelegs contain two slender bones, and compared to his muscle-dense neck and torso, are relatively vulnerable. Target the legs with an impact kick or by forcing them out to the sides like you’re breaking a wishbone. If you break the bone or separate the joint, you’ve effectively immobilized the dog and can now make an escape.
6. Kill the Dog
Witnesses of fatal attacks often describe the dog as ‘relentless’ or ‘possessed.’ Dogs will often continue an assault even after suffering serious injuries of their own. If you find yourself in a kill or be killed scenario, you’re best bet is to use your weight advantage to choke out the dog.
Your goal should be to get the dog on his back and your hands around his neck, keeping a safe distance between his face and yours. You can also pin the dog between the ground and your shin or forearm. Apply pressure for long enough and you’ll deprive his brain of oxygen, and he’ll lose consciousness. Apply more pressure and you will crush his windpipe.
7. Get to the Doctor
Approximately 4.5 million dog bites occur in the US each year. Nearly 1 out of 5 become infected. To prevent infection, head to the doctor immediately for an examination. On your way, call animal control to see if they can seize the dog and check for rabies. If the animal is rabid, you will need to start a series of rabies shots. The rabies virus can lay dormant for months, but once you start experiencing symptoms, it’s almost always fatal.
Austin Dog Training