Helpful guide to survive a dog attack

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If a Dog Attack is Inevitable

A dog that goes on the attack is exhibiting offensive aggression. If your attempts to calm or escape from the dog are not working and the dog decides to attack you, then you will need to be defend yourself as escape from a closing dog is likely impossible before it contacts you. This is easier said than done.

As in all forms of self-defense, weapons help. Many of the weapons you carry for defense against humans can and will work well on a dog. Pistols, knives, pepper sprays and clubs are all options among purpose made weapons.

Other improvised tools can be sticks, tool handles, golf clubs, baseball bats, backpacks, purses, trashcan lids, and any object that you can entice the dog to bite, or that you can put between you and the dog as a shield.

In an attack, a dog will bite just about anything that in range. An outstretched limb that is attempting to fend off the dog is often the first body part bitten unless the dog is specially trained.

After bringing you to the ground, the dog will often transition to more valuable targets like the face, neck and abdomen. We can use this compulsion against them by offering either a “sacrificial” arm or an object.

Dogs biting on the attack will initially clamp, not let go and then shake to tear flesh from the target. Land sharks indeed…

There are two concepts important to dealing with dogs on the offensive; they are the “bite stick” and the “break stick”. A bite stick is any object offered to the dog to bite, enabling us to counterattack without injury.

A break stick is any tool, often slender and tapering, used to insert between a dog’s teeth to break his hold when he has clamped down on something.

You should employ the first to decoy his initial attack, and use the second to help save someone else from a dog attack, as you will likely not be able to do so to help yourself.

Some stats to chew on about defensive weapons for stopping dog attacks:

  • Firearms: About 80% effective at stopping an attack. You must have time and opportunity to draw the gun, and compared to attacks from other humans there is a statistically higher chance of hitting a bystander when shooting to defend yourself from a dog. Also, a charging, leaping dog is not an easy target.
  • Knives: Effective, but statistically low likelihood of stopping a dog attack, and you are very likely to wound yourself in the fracas. Large dogs bred for aggression and baiting will not be deterred by anything short of hideous trauma. To employ a knife effectively you must be fluent on canine anatomy and likely risk a bite to deliver your own effective attacks.
  • Club: Statistically ineffective at stopping an attack as most people lack the power and coordination to bring a blunt weapon to bear on a moving dog effectively. But, clubs of all kinds are excellent for using as bite sticks; the sacrificial tool offered to a dog intent on biting.
  • Defensive Sprays: Generally effective on dogs, and afford you some reach, along with not having to touch the dog. Pepper spray has about the same failure rate as it does with humans, meaning that anywhere from 10-30% of the time the dog will not be deterred by the spicy blast. At any rate, an excellent option. Included in this category are fire extinguishers, whose choking chemicals and loud hissing are surprisingly effective at deterring dog attacks.

Any of the above weapons will only work if you have time to deploy them! Considering the speed of any dog, if you are charged unawares by an aggressive dog you likely will not have time to get it in gear, and accessing any tool large or small while a powerful, angry canine is treating you like a chew-toy is far more difficult than it seems.

If you have no tool on you or within reach, wrap your non-dominant arm with a jacket or shirt to help protect it and offer your forearm to the dog. Alternately you can use a purse or backpack as a shield and do the same thing. When the dog bites, you must keep your head about you!

Never pull or yank your arm away from a dog that has bitten down on you! This exacerbates the damage you receive and unless the dog is letting go anyway you will not free your arm.

Instead, drive in to the dog’s mouth, and use your momentum to gain the advantage as you go to the ground. If you can get the dog on his back you will have gone a long way to winning the fight.

Try to pin the dog on his back or his belly, and then access a lethal weapon to kill him. If the dog will not let go of your arm, take care that you do not further wound yourself with a knife or a gun.

If he does let go, take control of the dog’s head at all costs. Dog’s are flexible and can “turn in” quite sharply to get a bite; you’ll need to protect your groin and throat.

Drawing In A Pack Of Dogs To A Position You Can Fight From

Shot Gun

If you have the means and the ammo, a shot gun is a great weapon to use against a pack of dogs (or possibly wolves — if you live in the northwestern states and anywhere near an area of wilderness that predator call may draw in actual wolves — remember that).

Be able to reload quickly, just in case these dogs or wolves are a bit too eager, perhaps more hungry and less daunted by gun shots than usual.

Take Down The Alpha

When it comes to a pack of dogs, just like wolves, try to spot the alpha male and even an alpha female — a pack of dogs can be a lot like a pack of wolves. The alpha male may be the most dangerous and vicious of the pack. Aim for him first. The reason he’s the alpha is that he’s the toughest and most vicious of the pack. Wounding or killing him first just might send a message.

Intimidating A Dangerous Dog Or Wolf

When you have no other choice, you can try to intimidate a dog or pack of dogs or even a pack of wolves (this also works with mountain lions; don’t try it though with African lions).

Yell and scream with rage in your voice at the dog louder than you’ve ever yelled or screamed before; shout with violence in your voice; roar (yeah, I said “roar”). Stand up tall and waive your arms threateningly; throw rocks, act dangerous and unstable. Continue to yell. Scare the pants off this dog.

Dogs and wolves can be scared off. This is a method that has worked for people in the past. I have to admit though — though this might work just fine today on your next bike ride or jog through a rural area on a loose dog you come across, there’s a good chance it may not work during a time of collapse or even a “post-apocalypse” scenario when multiple dangers are likely to be in the land. Dogs and wolves may simply be unphased by intimidation tactics, should that day come.

Pit Bulls May Be More Dangerous Than Wolves

Be wary of using intimidation tactics on pit bulls. You probably shouldn’t even try. This is one breed that may be more aggressive than even wolves and your aggression is only going to trigger more aggression in a pit bull. Why? Several generations of pit bulls have been bred for aggression, which may include the pit bulls that have just spotted you.

Wolves in the wild, on the other hand, aren’t bred for aggression, though they can be extremely aggressive by nature.

A pit bull is like your crazy Uncle Larry: Pit bulls are sometimes “not right” in the head. They don’t make good guard dogs for a camp simply because they pose a risk of attacking people who belong to the camp — especially children.

While a wolf in the wild might take more predictable actions, a pit bull is just too unpredictable. You better have a Plan-B for dealing with pit bulls. Don’t count on trying to intimidate any pit bulls you encounter.

Pit Bulls Are The Most Dangerous Dogs

The unfortunate thing about pit bulls also is this: Not only are they the most dangerous dog with by far the most maimings and killings than any other canine in the U.S. (including wolves), there are also a high number of pit bulls. Most likely someone in your community owns one; some communities have more than one pit bull owner, owning more than one pit bull. Many pit bulls have made great pets for people, though, by their nature are still dangerous, especially if they get loose following a collapse or widespread disaster. Hope for the best — but be prepared for the worst.

Getting caught unprepared by a pack of vicious dogs is probably one of the most painful ways to die. Unfortunately, it’s likely to happen to people in multiple communities should society as we know it fall to the ground.

How To Survive A Kangaroo Attack

Have you ever watched Kangaroos fight each other?

Have you ever watched Kangaroos fight each other? It’s terrifying.

Imagine being kicked in the gut like that.

You could always try to box the kangaroo like this guy did…

How To Survive A Spider Bite

Do you know how to survive a spider bite?

Do you know how to survive a spider bite?

You’re a grown man, you can take a bite from a tiny spider, right? Yes we can, however, there are a few spiders that are equipped with fangs that can kill us if we’re not careful. Some of them are common in the U.S. as well.

Not to mention the spiders you could encounter out in the wilderness which is what this whole guide is about.

So it’s worth preparing for.

Dog Breeds that May Behave Aggressively

Although there are certain breeds of dogs that have a higher probability of possessing aggressive traits or behavior due to the way they’ve been bred historically, any breed of dog can behave aggressively under certain circumstances. Below are some common dog breeds that are more likely to show aggression than others. With that being said, this does not mean that these are bad dogs or that they shouldn’t be owned as pets. It simply means that due to their genetics, they have a predisposition to behave in certain ways.

Dogs are conditioned with the desire to please their owners, so most incidents involving aggressive dogs result from irresponsible ownership, abuse, neglect, lack of socialization, and improper training and mistreatment by the owner. If trained properly and cared for by a loving family, these dogs can be just as loving and playful as any other breed of dog. Many dogs on this list were originally bred to be fighting dogs, hunting dogs or farming dogs. While this may no longer be the case, those genetics still exist.

  • Caucasian Ovcharka
  • Pitbull
  • German Shepherd
  • Rottweiler
  • Alaskan Malamute
  • Husky
  • Doberman Pinscher
  • Wolf Hybrid
  • Boxer
  • Great Dane
  • American bulldog
  • Saint Bernard

How To Avoid A Dog Attack

Okay, let’s say you are prepared and then that dog comes running out of someone’s yard angrily at you. Be ready to pull out and fire off your pepper spray.

Some report that pepper spray can serve to only make an attacking dog more angry, and to not pull it out until the last moment (but of course if you time this wrong it may be too late for you) but we have first hand report from a colleague who teaches weapons for tactical solutions (Teanis Tillmon of Street Defense Research), that he has used pepper spray very effectively against charging, very angry pit bulls and other dogs. He adds that it can be more effective than a (non-stun) baton or even a firearm, stating he knows first hand about police who have still been charged after firing a gun.

Pepper spray, by far, is Tillmon’s preferred weapon against a dangerous dog.

Before it comes to any encounter with a dog, though — first, you should try to avoid the confrontation. And that means. . .

Do not appear threatening to the canine – Stare downs happen before boxing and MMA matches (and even street confrontations) for a reason. Both people are obviously trying to intimidate one another. They want to let the other know that they’re ready for the confrontation.

Which is why you don’t want to stare a dog in the eyes. That’s threatening to a canine, and threatening is the last thing you want to be. Along with that, stay calm. If you don’t, the dog will either think you want a fight or are scared, both of which can be detrimental.

Beyond that, here are a list of considerations that could keep a dog attack from occurring once you’ve happened upon an aggressive dog.

1. You might try commanding the dog to “sit,” or “stay.” This could give you time to think or even get away if they are familiar with the command.

2. Do not make any sudden movements. Rather, keep your hands down at your sides. This may serve to calm the dog down and show them that you are not a threat.

3. Do not turn your back on the dog. Canines often take that as a sign of weakness or an opening to attack.

4. Further, do not run away. That will probably only cause the dog to come after you. Dogs have a prey-drive. Attack dogs can have a very strong prey-drive.

4. Don’t smile. Bared teeth may signify aggression to a dog.

5. Back away slowly once the dog stops paying attention to you.

Oftentimes, utilizing the aforementioned in such a way will keep a dog from attacking. However, if this doesn’t stop the impending attack, then there are further things to consider.

What to Do if a Dog Attacks You While On Leash

If you’re holding the leash of a dog that’s attacking you, you’ve got a lot of options.

Always start your walk by looping the leash strap over your thumb and hold the leash with both hands near your belly.

I coach all of my clients to walk their dogs this way – it’s more comfortable and safe than wrapping a leash around your hand. This gives you maximal control, especially if the dog is bigger than you. It also allows you to drop the leash if necessary.

Use two handlers and two leashes if you’re worried about a given dog. This allows each person to hold a leash, so if needed, they can pull the dog away from the other handler. Walk the dog between the two people – this method is really only useful for shelter workers.

This is a great option if you’ve got a threatening dog and don’t have a catch pole or other tool designed especially for handling dangerous dogs.

If the dog is actively attacking you, you have two main options for stopping the attack:

  1. String-ups. These are tricky, so practice using a heavy bag first. This is an emergency defensive move where you essentially yank a dog upwards and away from you (with straight arms), often while you hop backwards. This is not meant to be a correction. It’s a defensive move to get a dog away from you if that dog is trying to hurt you.
  2. A loop-back. This is my favorite trick for handling aggressive dogs. You can loop your leash around a tree, post, chain link fence, or just about any other solid object. Then you can pull on the leash, which pulls the dog towards that object and away from you.

Avoid a Fight 

There are two options when encountering a feral dog. The first is to do everything possible to avoid a confrontation. Depending on the circumstances, there is a chance that a person can get away from the dog by putting an obstacle between them, getting to higher ground, or possibly running away if the running distance is short. Let’s start with some ways to avoid an attack. 

Move Slowly 

Any movements that you need to make should be done smoothly and slowly. Fast, jerky movements could be seen as a threat, and the dog will react accordingly. 

Avoid Eye Contact 

Direct eye contact should be avoided as it too can be seen as a threatening response. This does not mean you should take your eyes off the dog though. Keep the dog in your field of vision by looking down at the ground towards its paws or just off to the side of it. This way you will still be able to see the dog if it makes a move. 

Do Not Show Your Teeth

This can be a hard reaction to control because with people, showing our teeth through smiling is a non-threatening response. However, many animals show their teeth as an aggressive display. Avoid this confusion by keeping your pearly whites tucked away.   

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Talk in a Calm or Authoritative Voice 

This suggestion is twofold, and it entirely depends on how the dog reacts to you. Talking in a calm, soothing voice may help the dog feel at ease and see you as less of a threat. If this doesn’t work, trying a more authoritative voice by yelling “No!” might make the dog feel more submissive. 

Give Them Food 

One reason that a feral dog may be acting aggressively is that it is hungry. If you are carrying food, then they may smell that and simply want it. If the food is in a bag, reach into the bag slowly while talking in a calm voice, and throw the food away from you. When the dog shows more interest in the food over you, slowly back away and make your exit. 

Back Away Slowly 

If the dog is holding its ground and not advancing, it may just feel threatened and not want to attack. In this situation, it is best to keep talking calmly and to back away slowly. Do not turn your back to the dog until you have reached a safe distance, or you are out of sight. Also, do not turn and run away as this can trigger them into chase mode. 

What to Do if a Dog Attacks You: How to Escape 5 Scary Scenarios

Even if you do everything right, it’s absolutely possible to run into scary scenarios with dogs.

Whether you’ve got a potentially dangerous dog in your home, your neighborhood, or your workplace, it’s smart to know how to handle the situation.

Quick Tips For Any Kind of Dog Attack

We’ll go into detail below about how to handle different attack situations, but in all scenarios, these tips are worth remembering:

Protect Your Hands & Face. No matter where you are or what’s going on, your number one goal is to protect your hands and face. Turning your back on the dog and staying upright is incredibly important because this protects your face, neck, and belly. Even the biggest dog in the world isn’t as much of a threat if you’re standing versus lying down.

If you get knocked over, curl into a ball to protect your face and belly, covering the back of your neck with your hands.

Get Away & Put Something Between You and the Dog. Air horns, citronella spray, and other tools can help, but your number one goal is to get away.

While kicking the dog to keep it away from you is certainly an option, try to focus your energy on getting a non-fleshy object between you and the dog. Kicking or hitting may help, but it also puts your limbs closer to the dog. Additionally, hitting may only heighten the dog’s stress and arousal level, making the dog dig in harder.

Cover the Dog’s Face. Covering the dog’s face with your shirt, a blanket, or a jacket is a good tactic. I’ve seen people throw blankets, tarps, and more at dogs to “disarm” the dog. This can disorient the dog long enough for you to get away.

Now let’s go into more detail about how to handle specific attack situations.

When It All Goes Wrong – How To Defend Against a Dog Attack

A dog is built for pulling. Dogs are pulling machines. Their strength in their bite lies not only in the jaw and neck muscles but in the ability to pull backwards as it is trying, literally, to rip you limb from limb. The absolute worst thing, besides letting it get you down, is to try to pull your arm out of its mouth.

Not only will this help rip your flesh apart, it will make the dog bear down its center of gravity and pull back harder. The thing to do here is to push your arm back further into the dog’s mouth and throat and then strike it with all your force.

If the dog has a firm hold of you, you have no other choice but to strike hard and decisively into the animal’s weakest parts with maximal force. Preferably, strike into the eyes and down onto the nose with a hammer fist. Hopefully you might have an object to jab into the dog’s eyes or a kick to the throat.

Another thing, a dog’s shoulder joint is very easy to break and a good boot, like a front stomp kick will do the job. Kick the dog in the front shoulder joint the way you would if you were trying to break a 2×4 laid back against a wall at a 45 degree angle.


Stay off of the ground. Most people killed by do

Stay off of the ground. Most people killed by dogs are killed when dragged to the ground and then attacked in the neck. Dogs do this instinctively. Cover your head and neck with your hands and protect your vital organs with your knees. Once a dog takes you down to the ground he will climb on top of you and bite you continually, and you will have a hard time staying in a fetal position.

You could try to strangle the dog with its own collar (or your own belt) while pinning it down with your knees while on top of it. Apparently there was a 9-year-old Bakersfield boy strangled a pit bull who attacked a little girl. Same rule as in street fighting – stay on your feet at all costs It is far better to get a torn up limb, than down on the ground where your head, face, and neck are easy targets.

Dogs have little strength in the hindquarters. If you can grab the dog by the hind legs and toss it, go for it. Example, while holding its hind legs, toss it through a window or into traffic.

Get to higher ground. Try to jump up on the hood of a car or better yet, a truck. This could save you.

Mace and pepper spray might not work on lots of the worst attack breeds. If you want to go this route and have an ongoing threat with a dangerous dog in your neighborhood or on your daily route, consider getting some formaldehyde and putting it into a spray bottle. This is the stuff we used to preserve frogs in science class in high school. Get it into your eyes and paranasal sinus and it will disrupt your breathing and hurt worse than one can imagine. Consider putting it into a nasal spray bottle or other spray bottle that will work.

Consider edged weapons. A good folding Spyderco pocket knife with a one-hand opening device like a round-eye hole on the blade or a thumbstud is a good investment if you walk with your kids in an area with lots of big stray dogs around. Another thing could be a walking cane as it could be used to get between you and the dog.

Use any thing that can be deployed as a weapon. A piece of road tar, brick, stone, stick etc, can save you. A ballpoint pen could also save your life! Anything that you can use to get between you and the dog could save you. Let’s say you are on a bicycle, using the bike as a barrier is a good defensive tactic.

Sound like cruelty? For the most part, dogs are harmless, loving, kind and obedient pets. It is largely through human abuse, inbreeding and the willful breeding of violent traits that there are some nasty dogs out there (Some unfortunate examples “pitbulls“).

But lets be clear, if an aggressive dog poses a physical threat to you, your rights and safety come first. If they attack you or your loved ones, you don’t have a choice – you have to act to protect them and/or yourself. This is not cruelty, but your survival. Taking an attacking dog out with lethal force is a very last resort. But there are times when you have a kill or be killed situation and have no choice. It might be unpleasant to harm an animal, but an even far worse reality for you or your loved ones to be torn apart by one.

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