When Dogs Attack: 11 Steps That Could Keep You Alive

snarlHave you ever felt threatened by a strange dog? Perhaps you were out on a walk and someone’s pet escaped from the yard. Or maybe you’ve been to a friends house, only to be greeted with a poorly trained and territorial animal. If you live in the city, there’s good chance you’ve encountered one of the millions of stray dogs that roam the United States.

That last category is probably the most dangerous for the average person, and the statistics bear that out. Every year, 850,000 people in the US seek out medical attention for a dog bite, and along with the number of stray dogs, it’s a growing epidemic.

If so many people are bitten bad enough to go to the hospital every year, there’s a reasonably high chance of it happening to you someday. It’s not just something you hear about on the news, or from a friend of a friend. It’s something the average person should be prepared for, no matter where they live.

Fortunately though, the number of fatalities is extremely low, at around 20-30 per year. It seems most dogs, even if they’re feral, aren’t interested in killing humans. They’re usually timid, tired and hungry, and are more interested in defending themselves than making you lunch. Most dog attacks are probably due to nothing more than a misunderstanding between themselves and the humans around them. Sometimes they misread our gestures, or if they’re truly feral, they think they can extend their territory the streets and sidewalks.

Whatever the case may be, there’s a few simple strategies you can use to ward off a dog attack. Even if you don’t have any weapons, you stand a very good chance of staying alive. Before you do anything though, you should start by trying to scare the animal away. Here’s what you should try first.

1. If you’re approached by an aggressive dog, stay calm and stand your ground. Don’t run, or turn your back in any way. Doing so will trigger the dog’s predatory instinct. They will most likely chase you, and they’ll definitely outrun you. In addition, dogs have an amazing ability to perceive moving objects, much more so than we can. In fact, they can recognize a moving object better than a stationary object. All in all, you should keep your movement to a minimum.

2. Shout at the dog. Tell him to leave.  Even the most feral of dogs exist because of us. They’re descended from thousands of years of human domestication, and they still have a primal understanding of human gestures. Many of the stray dogs you run into used to belong to human homes, and they recognize human commands. So long as you’re standing your ground, ordering the dog to leave is worth a shot.

3. If he’s not going to budge, then you’ll have to prepare to defend your space. Look for anything you can use to put between yourself and the dog. You could use a cane, umbrella, jacket, or belt. Any lengthy and durable object will do. Holding this item in front of you can actually disarm the dog’s aggression. Again, it goes back to the dog thinking he needs to defend himself. Standing your ground and holding a large object in front of you clearly shows that you’re taking a defensive stance as well, and have no ill intent towards him.

4. If that doesn’t work, then be prepared to use that object to protect yourself. Hold it in front of you at around neck level. The face and neck are very common places for a dog to lunge toward. Holding the object at this level means the dog will most likely go for that instead of you. And keep your hands tightly clenched to protect your fingers.

5. From there you want to use this object as a decoy. You probably don’t want to use the item as a weapon just yet. If you strike and miss, you’ll likely be opening yourself up for the dog’s bite. Heck ,even if you do hit the dog, you probably won’t even phase him. Instead, you want the dog to bite down on the object first so you can make your next move. Or if you’re using an article of clothing, you might be able to throw it over his head to temporarily blind him.

6. While he’s distracted by this object, you have one of two choices to make, and not a lot of time. You can let him keep it. Most dogs will be completely satisfied with taking the item from you. They’ll be busy tearing it to shreds and you can slowly back away from the animal. Or you can prepare yourself to grapple and fight the dog. If that’s the case, you’ll need to recognize some of the dog’s strengths and weaknesses.

7. Almost all of the dog’s lethality lies in his hind legs and his jaws. Both are used in conjunction whenever a canine is trying to take down prey. On most dogs, the jaws are perfectly capable of severing fingers and some arteries. The hind legs give them all of their speed. Disabling both of these is crucial to your survival. If you want to stay alive, but don’t want to hurt or kill the animal, there’s several maneuvers you can try. I’m going to describe the one I’m most familiar with.

8. You’ll need to place the dog in a headlock. I’ve done this myself with aggressive and out of control dogs, and it’s easy to do without hurting them. Once you get the dog into this position you have a lot of control, and the amount of strength you apply determines the amount of damage you do (or don’t do).

First, you want his snout on top of your elbow, and your bicep and forearm hugging his neck. Hold tight until the back of his head is pressed into your chest, and your hand is touching your shoulder. Here you can feel his windpipe, and adjust your grip if you don’t want to hurt him.

Now you’ll want to use your other hand to reach over his torso and grab under his belly, and pick him up. Even if you’re not strong enough to pick the dog up, all you need to do is get his hind legs off the ground. In this position the dog has no leverage. So long as you hold tight, the dog can’t squirm out, and can’t turn his head enough to bite. It’s possible to hold this position almost indefinitely, and killing or severely hurting the dog isn’t necessary.

9. If there’s no way to incapacitate the dog, then be prepared to get injured. You still stand a good chance of winning, but you’re probably not coming away from this injury free. If you no longer have anything to put between yourself and the dog, you’re going to have to let the dog latch on somewhere. Preferably the forearm, where the dog isn’t as likely to reach an artery, and unlike the leg, you won’t lose your balance. Fortunately, you’ll still have another arm to fight with.

10. Wherever he bites, he’s probably going to hang on for dear life. Whatever you do, don’t pull any part of your body out of the dog’s mouth. You’ll do more damage than the bite itself.

11. Rather than going through a graphic description of what to do, I’ll just list some of the weaker points on the dogs body. Hind legs, ribs, eyes, and windpipe. Pressure points include the armpit, behind the collar bone, and behind the jawbone.

So there you have it. Hopefully it won’t escalate to that point, but it’s certainly a possibility. Just to do everything you can to end the situation peacefully. Much like dangerous humans, dangerous dogs aren’t likely to go down without hurting you first. If you can avoid fighting the dog, then that should be your priority above all else. And if you haven’t already, check out Tess Pennington’s article on how to identify a dog that’s ready to strike.



Joshua Krause was born and raised in the Bay Area. He is a writer and researcher focused on principles of self-sufficiency and liberty at Ready Nutrition. You can follow Joshua’s work at our Facebook page or on his personal Twitter.

Joshua’s website is Strange Danger

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Originally published October 19th, 2014
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25 Responses to When Dogs Attack: 11 Steps That Could Keep You Alive

  1. 1836Davy_Crockett says:

    Become the predator. Replace your fear with raw unadulterated viciousness, first in your mind and then in your demeanor. Advance on the dog while telling it you’re going to kill him and mean it. Dogs smell fear. Get rid of it and know you’re the baddest animal on the planet and the dog will sense this. Secondly, if a dog latches on to you, reach down, grab his front leg near the paw joint and quickly snap it. I guarantee the dog will leave.

  2. Animal fan says:

    Stupid article which has been written by a dog hating fool who wants to instill fear in weak people.Humans are the danger, not animals.I have NEVER EVER met an animal that I have disliked.I can’t say the same about some members of the human species.

    • Alan Carr says:

      You’ve never been surrounded by a pack of feral dogs then. Idiot.

      • Animal fan says:

        Yes I have and they are all great.
        It is a stupid humans perception that is the problem ie building a mountain out of a molehill. Dumbares Allan Carr!!!!!

      • Alan Carr says:

        People get killed by such packs. You are a fool.

      • Animal fan says:

        You are a stupid, uneducated demented old brainless fool who hates dogs. Your profile and photograph says it all!! I have never met an animal I have disliked. I cannot say the same for some of the human species such as you.

      • Alan says:

        I live in Asia dude, I see a lot of feral dogs here. They’re fine when there’s just 1 or 2, even 3. Larger packs become dangerous, as parents of missing children will tell you.

      • Animal fan says:

        You are the feral one and not the dogs.I loathe uncivilized asia and its repulsive human inhabitants.

      • Alan says:

        Well I hope you stay far away then 🙂

      • Animal fan says:

        Your profile photograph says it all.YUK!!!! Stay in your country. We do not want trash in the civilized world!

      • Alan says:

        They wouldn’t even let you have a profile pic, you’s more ugly than your mother!

      • Animal fan says:

        It was my choice not to have a profile photograph or image.Unlike you I am a professional.I am educated and I come from a civilized country.

      • Alan says:

        You don’t write well for a professional, I consider Malaysia more civilised than any Western country and you’re a rude ass, so there’s that?

      • Animal fan says:

        Yes,you are highly uncivilized. It is obvious that you have not traveled to the western civilized world.

      • Alan says:

        Oh you moron, I emigrated from there! Go away and pester a rabbit or something.

      • Animal fan says:

        Go and play with your toys you ugly fool.

  3. dogsaresmelly says:

    just shoot it

    • Guest says:

      You are the one that most certainly MUST be used as target practice and then spread as fertlizer scumag!

    • Animal fan says:

      You are the one that needs to be used as target practice and then spread as fertilizer.

      • mike graham says:

        This is a whole year after the fact but still i must respond..This article repeatedly states the best ways to subdue a dog without hurting him.(subdue not kick its ass) Because you’ve never been attacked or seen a dog attack you foolishly think it doesn’t happen,which by the way shows how dumb you must be.Dogs are by their nature predators and feral dogs go to their roots instinctively.I personally saved 2 little kids from a pit bull who had broke his chain and was running loose. He was acting aggressive running around these kids when they got scared and bolted.Immediately he took off after them.I saw this while driving by and jumped out of my truck,ran over and grabbed his broken chain and yanked him back about a foot. .

      • Animal fan says:

        Unlike you I am a Doctor and have intellect as well as compassion for animals.Go and play with your toys fool.You have made yourself look very stupid.You are obviously anti animal!

      • mike graham says:

        Whether you have intellect or not is debatable,I’m not seeing it. What’s not debatable is your complete lack of common sense and the fact that you’re a sanctimonious asshole. I’m guessing you’re a proctologist since most peoples careers define them as people. None the less,I’m not impressed. Nor am I impressed with your so called intellect.You come across as a condescending, self important douche,and Id quit while I was ahead if i were yu.

      • Animal fan says:

        Unlike you I am a very busy professional.I do not have the time nor the inclination for drop-kick low intellect morons such as you.Your spelling is disgraceful.However I highly recommend, that you seek Psychiatric assessment and subsequent treatment.I will not respond to you again.I do not provide free Medical treatment.

      • mike graham says:

        Apparently you do have the time,which leads me to think you’re not the success you claim to be. Matter in fact I bet you live in a rundown apt. with sheets over the windows and 14 cats running around breeding,pissing and shitting all over. No deposit back for you!!

      • Animal fan says:

        You are an ignorant,uneducated animal hating fool.Unlike you I have intellect.I am also involved in animal welfare during my non consulting hours.I bet that those filthy vile brats that you have made mention of upset and harassed the poor dog.Go and play with your toys FOOL DOG HATER!!!!

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