So it happens. Even though there are laws governing the restraint of domestic dogs (leash laws, or yard enclosure laws), dogs sometimes get out on the loose, and they aren't always warm and fuzzy and friendly. Someday you might find yourself facing the gnashing teeth of a threatening canine, so it's good to know what to do.
The first strategy is to avoid aggressive dogs, if possible. If you know there are aggressive dogs in a particular neighborhood, don't go there.
Another strategy, if you can't avoid dogs, is to feed them. Carry some dog treats in a pocket, and toss one or two toward the dog if it approaches you.
But when the situation gets nasty you have to take other steps:
- Never turn your back on a threatening dog. If the animal tries to circle around behind you, keep turning to face him. If you are threatened by more than one dog and they attempt a coordinated surround-and-attack strategy, you're going to have to choose one dog to make an example of. I recommend taking out the most aggressive one first. Be quick about it, because as soon as you focus your attention on one of the dogs, the others might rush you. So work with exceptional violence to take one dog out of action and then immediately be ready to take out the next one.
When we were rushed by two dogs, I immediately kicked the lead animal in the throat, dropping him like a hay bale, and then I prepared to take out the second dog. That dog saw what happened to his buddy, thought better of it, and whimpered back inside the open gate to the safety of his yard.
- Don't run. Running from a dog will encourage and trigger an aggressive attack. It's impossible to out-run a dog for any distance, but if you can scramble into an open vehicle or climb a tree before the dog can reach you, go for it. But if you can't reach safety within a few steps, don't run.
- Stop right where you are, face the animal and slowly back away. Sometimes a dog will rush out and snarl, bark and growl without completing the attack. It might be that the dog thinks you have violated his space, and if you are willing to leave slowly by backing away, he might let you.
- Avoid making direct eye contact and showing your teeth because that might be perceived by the dog as a challenge, and might provoke an attack. Even though you are facing the dog and watching his every move, focus your eyes a bit to one side of his eyes.
- Never lose your feet. That means don't fall down. Once you're on the ground, you are lunch. If you stumble, get back on your feet as fast as possible.
- Start yelling to arouse the attention of the dog's owner.
- Carry defensive weapons (and be prepared to use them) such as pepper spray, a walking stick that can be used to fend off an attack, a short stick or umbrella that can be used as a club or to jam down the dog's throat.
- Take action.
If you have a coat, remove it and wrap it around your arm. Then present your arm as the target for the dog to focus on. Once he has your protected arm in his jaws, shove it as deep into his mouth as you can and use your other hand and your feet to attack the dog. Punch him in the nose (or whack him hard on the nose with your club), claw out his eyes, punch and kick him in the ribs.
If you can grab the dog by his nose and lower jaw, you can use a quick sideways jerking motion in opposite directions to dislocate the dog's jaw.
If the dog in question is a pit bull, there may be nothing short of death (preferably the dog's death, not yours) that will cause it to release you from its jaws. Nasty as that might sound, it might be your only solution, so be prepared with some means of causing the death of an attacking dog. A knife will do nicely. If the dog has part of you in his jaws, and it's your life or his death, focus all your attention on getting the job done as quickly as possible.
If you are totally without weapons, use your fingers to claw into the animal's eyes or gonads. Rip them out, if necessary. This is an ugly scene to even contemplate, so get it over with as quickly as possible.
After the incident you might need medical attention, including rabies treatment. If possible get information about who owns the dog, because you're going to need this to take steps to receive compensation for your suffering. Call 9-1-1 and have the animal control people take action to prevent this dog from attacking others. This is assuming the dog has survived his encounter with you.
Remember, I am a dog lover. But I love myself even more.