When animals attack, be prepared for the worst. Depending on the type of animal, the attack can be silent but lethal or obvious and aggressive. An individual's behavior at the time of an attack, will determine the outcome of the attack to a large extent. The wrong move, a misstep and an unpleasant encounter can become a deadly one. What should one do, when facing a snarling, quivering dog?
In fairness, dogs can be very fearsome opponents to face-off against. Whether small or big, dogs have strength, agility and powerful jaws and impressively sharp teeth on their side. At least 4.7 million people of the United States are bitten by a dog that is known to them, each year. And though attacks can be prevented, it helps to know how to protect yourself from a dog attack.
How to Defend Against a Dog Attack
The following are some self-defense tactics and steps to tackle a canine foe.
- In a stern and firm voice, say "NO!" or "Shoo" or "Down". A strong command issued firmly will often frighten off most dogs. You can even back away slowly while the dog is confused.
- Try to get to a place of higher elevation. Climb a tree or even a car just to put some height between you and the dog.
- Do not face down or glare at the dog head-on. Keep your movements slow and steady. Do not wave your hands about, all this is misconstrued as violent signs by the dog, who will turn more violent.
- Fold your arms and clench your fists to protect your fingers. Stand perfectly still.
- No matter how much you want to, do not run. The dog might give chase, thinking you are its prey. Plus, your back is to it, so it can attack you from behind, which is more difficult to defend against.
- You cannot outrun a dog unless you are really fast and even then it is difficult. Hold your position and do not shout loudly. Do not stretch out your hands or legs.
- Defend your neck, chest and face at all costs. Fold your hands over your upper body and clench your fists. Do not bend or fall over.
- Most times the dog will attack your clothing or anything on you first, so remove it as the dog is pulling on it. If you have a bag or a stick or are armed with something, be alert for the dog baring its teeth. This means it's preparing to attack, so block its bite with your object. Shove it at its teeth, the dog will bite on it by mistake.
- Keep that object between you and the dog at all costs. If there are rocks or debris around, arm yourself with it and throw it at the dog, when it attacks.
- The best instruments to ward off an attacking dog are water, umbrellas and jackets. Opening an umbrella in the face of the lunging dog is enough to startle it into submission. Likewise blinding the dog with a cloak or jacket thrown over its face is equally effective.
- If you fall to the ground, immediately assume a "play dead" stance. Curl your body into a ball. Pull your knees close to your chest. Protect your head and neck with your arms. Clasp your hands together behind your neck and position your elbows around your face.
- When dogs attack, their hunting instincts take over and they will grab and hold you while biting. The first and normal instinct is to pull back to get out of the grip. But this action can increase the bite's damage as the dog will not let go. So you are tearing your own flesh and deepening the wound. The key is to get the dog to open its jaws and let go.
- A dog's neck is a very sensitive area. So if a dog lunges at you, go for its neck. Jam your elbow into its throat and apply pressure on the spot. Apply your body weight on the dog, the pressure can force it to let go.
- If you are not armed with anything, go for broke and wrap your arm in a jacket. Then keep your arm between you and the dog. He will lunge to bite down on your arm. Hit him in the eyes, do not hit his nose, this angers him further and he will become more vicious.
- Even if the dog has bitten you, putting a cloth over its head blinds it and it will let go of you.
- What if the dog is attacking someone else? Then grab its legs and pull them apart. Do not try to pull the dog off the person, you could end up pulling that person's skin off with the dog. Try breaking the dog's grip by forcing something into its jaws.
How to Avoid a Dog Attack
Prevention is better than cure, so the following are some precautions to avoid an attack:
- Keep young children far away from unleashed dogs. Do not leave small children unsupervised and alone with dogs.
- Animals attack if provoked. So with older children, caution them well in advance about teasing, pulling tails, cuffing and kicking at dogs. An aggressive child in play, can anger a dog with its antics.
- Do not look dogs straight in the eyes. Eye-to-eye contact is interpreted as a challenge by a dog and it will feel the need to defend itself. This is a special note of caution for small children, who are at the same height as the dog and will stare hard into its eyes.
- Avoid chained or tethered dogs and guard dogs. These dogs are already on a short leash of temper and are frustrated at the restraint in temper and will attack anything in sight. Keep way out of reach.
- Do not smile with your teeth bared at dogs. This is also taken as an aggressive gesture.
- Look out for warning signs in the dog's behavior. Stiffening of the body, teeth baring, ears pricked and hackles raised means the dog is angry and does not want to be messed with. Snarling or barking is another sign.
- Never interfere or play with a dog when it's feeding. Trying to take away its food or disturbing it while eating, is enough to anger the dog.
- Three situations in which a dog should never be disturbed are: sick or injured, pregnant and nursing. Sick dogs will attack even if unprovoked. Nursing mothers are defensive of their young and will attack.
The steps to defend oneself against an attacking dog may seem violent and cruel to some but when needs must, one must do what one has to do. If bitten, seek medical attention immediately. Do not ignore dog bites, as along with loss of blood and limb, rabies is an inherent danger.