Defending a Dog Attack

This thread has mentioned how to defend yourself against a dog attack. I was reading the Pit thread Jack Batty linked to in the OP and I was unclear in that thread if the Rottweiler was going for Jack or for his dog Daisy (who is considerably smaller than the Rott).

Still, what can/should one do if they find their dog getting mauled by another dog? I’ve always been told never to get involved in a dog fight because even if neither dog wants to hurt you there is still a good chance you can get hurt anyway. However, I do not think I could stand by and watch my dog get ripped to shreds. She’s a German Shepherd (don’t hate me Jack…she really is a complete sweetheart) and thus able to defend herself fairly well but we have a LOT of Pit Bulls in our neighborhood. Apparently dog fighting is becoming popular among gangs and as a result there are more of these things about than I’d like to see (the homicidal maniac variety mentioned by Rue DeDay). I know my dog would be ripped to shreds by these beasts.

Should one attack my dog what should I do (for the sake of argument assume there is no water handy to throw on them)? Killing it seems excessive especially considering that its owner might kill me as a result. The only thing I’ve seen is to grab the attacking dog by the hind paws or tail and lift its ass and legs completely off the ground and drag it away. In this position the dog can’t get the proper balance to attack anything. Unfortunately this has the downside of what to do afterwards (assuming the owner isn’t around to take control of their dog).

Grabbing a bull by the horns is one thing…letting go is the real problem.

It is possible for some folks to cow a dog with a word… This depends very much on the person, though, and I don’t think that it can be taught.

In unarmed combat, the main advantage that a dog has is that it’s actually trying to kill you. If any creature (dog, human, or otherwise) is really intent on killing you, you pretty much have to kill it, or at least come awfully close, to be able to mount an effective defense.

I don’t know how well this would work in an attack, but I know that in order to intimidate a dog, you should inflict some sort of pain or discomfort. When a friend’s dog and I were playing around on the grass, he started to get a bit rough, and bit my hand. I grabbed onto his jawbone and squeezed, pushing his tongue down to the bottom of his mouth with my thumb. He immediately stopped and whimpered, trying desperately to pry his mouth from my hand, shaking his head back and forth and such.
Anyways, since I have never been involved in a dog attack, I suppose I wouldn’t really know. That’s all the advice I can offer.

File under: Statements - Obvious.

The idea of poking the dogs’ eyes out has been mentioned. It seems like that would be a good idea if you could do it before the dog bit you (again, easier said than done). If the dog has already bitten you, whether it is blind or not probably won’t affect its grip.

Well, I couldn’t read the dogs mind, but I wasn’t taking chances. The way it happened I think the rott just got pissed that there was another dog hanging around and decided to kick a little ass.

It didn’t seem that agitated at seeing me, but when Daisy trotted around the bushes and looked at him, he got all up in my face. At any rate, that dog was charging hard in my direction, dragging its owner with him. The recent local stories of dog maulings flashed through my mind.

I generally have a good relationship with dogs. I try to project a confidence so they aren’t afraid of me but I try not to come across as too dominant either to avoid conflict. I’d say for the most part almost every dog I’ve encountered has dealt with me rather humanly, if I do say so myself.

But I’ll be damned if I’m going to lay down and be killed by a rampaging rottweiler. I had heard that “break their neck” thing before, but in my mind, if a beast like that is attacking me, I don’t think I’m going to be indexing that particular thought in my brain. In fact I think the overpowering though process might go a little like this:


And I’d probably just flail and punch and kick and hope for the best. But if there were a sure fire, no-fail technique it would be nice to at least be acquainted with it.

I don’t know that you have to inflict pain or discomfort although doing so is probably the most straightforward and easiest way to get the dog’s attention in a way it understands. A decent dog trainer could probably come up with some non-violent means of letting a dog know who’s boss.

Still, dogs may occasionally test you for the leadership of the pack (some breeds are more prone to this than others). It is in everyone’s best interest that the dog learn immediately that that shit won’t fly in no uncertain terms.

My wife was mercilessly teasing her dog when she was a little girl (around 8 years old). Eventually the dog had had enough and snapped at her. Frankly she had it coming and the dog didn’t actually hurt her…just startled her. Her dad punished the dog anyway (a good spanking followed by a night in the garage) since they had three young children and the dog needed to know that snapping/biting was not acceptable no matter what.

Message received…the dog never snapped at anyone ever again.

When I had dogs as a kid, I always found that if you get a towel or jacket or pillowcase between your two hands, you can always get a dog to go for it. That’s when you’re playing around with the dog. I’ve often wondered if you could do that as a way to fend off a dog. Rather than letting it chomp down on your arm, let it rip into your coat while you kick it or something. In any case, I’d much rather try that than sticking out my arm.

Several decades ago when my dad was around 18 or so in Germany, there was a doberman who went after everyone in the area. He managed to teach it a good lesson once. Somehow he was quick enough to grab it’s bottom jaw with his hand while it was barking real close; he then pulled it’s head down to it’s chest - the dog couldn’t do anything other than squirm. With his other hand he beat the hell out of the dog for a few minutes, and when he let it go the dog ran off, never coming near him again. He still has a small scar on his palm from where the dog’s teeth puntured it, but that’s all.
Now the reasoning was that a dog couldn’t bite if it’s bottom jaw was pinned down; but I was skeptical. A couple years ago I was living on a property that had a big german shepard dog. It wasn’t mean, but definatly aggresive. I experimented with this trick, and found that if you do it right, the dog really can’t bite down on your hand (or anything else). I was able to keep a full-sized german shepard from biting me. UNFORTUNATELY, it took me SEVERAL tries to learn how to get the right hold, and the dog was never intent on hurting me; it was just playing rough. Another thing… once I had the dogs jaw immobilized, it squirmed and twisted and pulled like a greased pig to get away, and those things are strong!! Again, it took me several tries to learn how to get in a position to wrestle the dog and hold it once I had it’s jaw. Finally, you’re left with what to do with a mad dog that you’re half-straddling, with just one had left.
Even though I’ve now done it, I still think I’d have about a 95% failure rate if I tried this for real on an attacking dog. The biggest trick is getting a hold of the bottom jaw and pulling down fast enough before the dog grabs your hand and tears it off. And sorry, but I beleive humans have one of the SLOWER reaction times in the animal kingdom (particularly when trembling in a puddle of their own urine), so your odds of out-manouvering a dog or having a hand faster than a set of teeth are next to none. So in conclusion, the method I described is sort of like catching a butterfly with your bare hands - it’s possible, but you have to be damn lucky to pull it off. Better to carry a knife or big fish bonking stick.

I asked almost exactly the same question here once. Got a lot of good answers, a bit of rubbish and few chuckles. Worth a read, just don’t take the suggestion about always having a couple of cats handy to throw at passing dogs too seriously.

One thing humans do have to their advantage in way of combat is our ability to use missile weapons.

When I’m out walking my dogs, and I even suspect I might have trouble with a dog, I always pick up a rock or two. It’s deterred some pretty determined attackers. You don’t even necessarily have to hit the dog; just having a rock ricochet off nearby pavement can be enough to remind a canine that you have a pretty big bag of tricks at your disposal.

We’ve only had two dog attacks around here, and here’s how we dealt with them…

The first dog was a huge german shephard who had been bred for a defense/attack dog, but not trained. It broke into our rabbit cage and grabbed up it’s dinner. As it ran off with a rabbit, I stepped in it’s path and punched it as hard as I could in the nose. It dropped the rabbit and ran away squealing.

The second dog was a even bigger german shephard who had just given birth. It was extremely defensive at first, but cooled after a few weeks. Finally, it was calm enough to let it interact with our other dogs. One day mom had it and our very small miniature schnauzer down in the field clearing out some brush. Out of nowhere, this huge german shephard snapped and started attacking our other dog. Mom beat it silly with a tree limb, but it didn’t let go. Finally she had to put a chain around it’s neck (it was completely ignoring her, focused on it’s ‘prey’) and choked it until it relented, then drug it back to the house via the improvised choke-chain. When she got back to our other dog, she was ripped quite nearly in half and almost bled to death. She had drug her mangled body about 100 yards toward the house in the meantime looking for help. Mom wrapped her in towels and busted ass to the vet, just in time. She’s still with us, albeit somewhat scarred, nearly six years later.

If I were attacked personally, I’d go for the arm/towel/coat defense, and do my best to stab or poke out it’s eyes before ripping out it’s windpipe with my fingers or keys or something. Failing that, I think a longer key or knife could go pretty deep into it’s brain through the ear if you can somehow wrestle it still. Maybe give up your arm/towel/coat and wrest yourself around onto it’s back, and lock your legs around it’s midsection, between it’s rear legs. You could use your legs to pry it’s rear legs apart, then go deep into it’s vitals at your own content. If it’s absolutely massive, forget wrestling it still and just try to hang on the best you can until you can kill the mutha.


If you see a dog coming at you, Attack! Run at him and be prepared to boot his head off. As a paperboy I was bitten twice standing completely still. As a young adult, I faced a pack of domestic dogs (10 to 20) at two o’clock in the morning. Half drunk and scared shitless I seriously considered my life finished, but I was going to go down fighting. Amazingly the dogs backed off initially, but also came around to attack me from the back. I quickly surmised that by alternately running three steps in one direction and four steps back to the house I left a hundred yards away that I could inch my way back to safety. Well here I am to tell about it.

Mentioned earlier in this post and rekindled my memory. Rocks are your friend. Dogs are scared of rocks and know what it means when you have a couple in your hand. Even those Tibetan mastifs were WARY of rocks. I wouldn’t say they were afraid or anything.

I had a separate attack in Tibet by a lone mastif. Luckily I had a walking stick, and managed to fend off the initial FEW charges. Then ripped out my 2 foot knife (everyone carries these in Tibet for a reason, i tell you), and I could just see that mean ass bastard calculating the odds. "Grrrr, let’s see, 60-40 odds my favor, but he hasn’t washed for a month. Grrrr grrrr. Dang, let’s just scare the living crap outta him and go find a rabbit or a goat.’’

TV Time, man I feel for you. I was close in the situation twice and never got actually bit.

Since I always go around with a can of pepper spray in my left pocket and a Baretta 92FS concealed in a holster on my strong side, my response to a dog attack would be: 1) spray the beast with the oleoresin capsicum cannister; and, if that didn’t stop him, 2)a couple of 147gr hollowpoints should do the job.

A good knife will also serve the human attacked by any dog.

Without any armament, your best bet would probably be to go down and curl your arms behind your neck and over your ears and to lie in a fetal postion with your soft ventral parts protected (like an armadillo).

But really, my fellow Homo sapiens, we have our superior brains to work out a winning startegy for these encounters with the stupider beasts, including the big bears.

Of course I’d rather have my trusty Marlin .444 to deal with a nasty Grissly, but brainpower can overcome brawn, claws, and fangs. See the excellent movie, I believe it was called “The Edge,” with Anthony Hopkins as the brainy human.

I agree with the shove your arm into its throat. I have actually done this with a couple fairly large dogs that tried to jump for my face. I shoved my hand into the back of it’s mouth and made a fist. It can’t bite you becuase its mouth is jammed open in the back, and it quickly realizes that it can’t breath. My fist is big enough that once I made a fist my hand was totally stuck. Evenually the dogs got scared and tried to run away so I let them. I was mostly uninjured except a few light scratches from jamming my hand through its teeth.

*Originally posted by Whack-a-Mole *

No, I am fairly confident that I could not pull that off against a powerful dog in a wild frenzy–not without receiving severe, jagged wounds requiring immediate surgery. Kill it? Sure, I could. But the wounds inflicted in the exchange would be permanently disfiguring, and after years of kickboxing, I know you’ve got to go in prepared for the worst. (And kickboxing ain’t fighting a wild dog.)

Again, I’m wondering whether most of the respondants have ever seen a big dog in an absolute berserk frenzy. It is at once awesome and horrifying. The speed is beyond belief and the snapping/crushing power terrifying.

Wrapping a “pillowcase” around your forearm as a defensive/offensive strategy would be useless. And the idea of grabbing a dog’s lower jaw is crazy. Your fingers would be severed in an instant. Yes, neurodoc, brains may prevail in a carefully thought out (counter)offensive, but we’re talking about a sudden attack and where’s Sun Tzu when you need him?

If anyone ever chooses to go toe to toe with a dog that is charging him/her and willing to attack–as some have suggested–be prepared for hell on Earth. If you can somehow get around its mouth (almost impossible) and get your weight on top of it (unlikely), then maybe you might be able to break its ribs with a blinding round of all-out punches. I’ve tried to hold a dog by the neck that was really pissed at me. I’ve got a strong-ass grip, but this beast worked loose in a second or two and came after me like Kujo. (There really wasn’t anything to hold onto when he started thrashing.) Fortunately, he knew I was semi-playing, otherwise I’d be typing this with a pencil in my lipless mouth.

That said, it would be interesting to see an Ultimate Fighter in a ring with a really insane Rottweiler or pit bull.

Bottomline: carry a knife with a, say, 5-inch blade. That won’t stop the attack, but at least the dog will suffer too.

>> Wrapping a “pillowcase” around your forearm as a defensive/offensive strategy would be useless

I have to disagree with this if just out of common sense. I do not know who would carry a pillow case around but if you wrap your forearm in a heavy article of clothing I can guarantee the damage will be much reduced. Have you seen the videos where they train dogs to attack? The “bad” guy has his arm wrapped in very heavy padding. That’s it.

A dog’s bite causes damage because its teeth cut into your flesh. Wrap over an inch of padding and the teeth will sink into your flesh much less or not at all. I can guarantee you that with 3 or 4 inches of padding a dog cannot hurt you. If the teeth cannot cut into your flesh the mere pressure will not hurt you badly. A dog is not a bear.

  1. If I’m ever in Tibet, I’m not messing with any Mastifs.

  2. I will now always carry my trusty knife.

  3. I still think I can take a (mean) doggie in hand to hand combat! OK, so I would be a shell of a man afterwards, but the dog would be dead :smiley:

— G. Raven

OT but since it was brought up I remembered this thread where a poster with some experience had this to say about fighting bears:

Dogs are tough…bears are on a whole other plane of toughness. Don’t mess with those if you can at all avoid it.

There’s a joke in the same thread linked above to the effect of if you plan on using a handgun to hunt grizzlies be sure to file down the sight so it doesn’t hurt so bad when the bear shoves it up your ass (I thought that was funny).

Any kind of stick would be most helpful, since the dog is likely to bite the stick instead of your tender body. If you can get him to clamp onto the stick, and it doesn’t break, then you’re halfway there. Well, at least you’ve bought yourself a few seconds. Tools are your friend. Any sort of tool is going to be helpful.

Don’t bother hitting a dog on the top of the head, it won’t do anything. If you take a look at a dog’s skull they have a huge ridge of bone down the top, wrapped in several layers of jaw muscle. Don’t bother. The vulnerable points are the feet, the nuts, the belly, and the throat.

Oh, and running is worse than useless unless you only need to run a few feet. Dogs can run about ten times faster than you can, even ones with short legs. I’ve tried to chase down a basset hound with 2 inch legs and he just laughed at me. If you can climb anything that would be a good idea.

Oh, I doubt you could hold a dog’s jaws open. But it is possible to hold a dog’s jaws shut. The muscles to open the jaw are much much weaker than the muscles to close the jaw. That’s the trick alligator wrestlers use…you can hold an alligators jaws shut with your bare hands. But they can crush your bones if they manage to get their mouths open. However, I doubt you could HOLD a dog long enough for holding his jaws shut to do much good. He’d just wiggle out of your arms pretty easily, plus there’s probably lots of saliva and blood making things slippery.