How to defend yourself if a dog attacks you

All dogs, regardless of their breed, can attack a person. They do so if they notice that their primary instincts – food, drink or mating – are threatened or if they feel that their territory (the space they occupy or their family nucleus) is going to be broken.

However, fear can also cause aggression by the animal. If the dog does not manage this emotion or is anxious, it will attack the person, as long as it cannot flee to safety. Therefore, the education and socialization of the animal are very important factors. This prevents the dog from attacking, unless he or his family is in danger.

When faced with a canine attack, the fundamental thing is to remain calm, even if it is difficult. Yelling, running away or responding by hitting are behaviors that will increase the animal’s anger, prompting it to continue with its aggression.

It is also essential to  avoid eye contact with the dog ; We will have to turn our backs on him and remain as still as possible. In this way, it will end up releasing us.

When the attack is over, we must go to a medical center to heal and assess the wounds. It is very important, as well as presenting a complaint so that the competent authority can act against the owner, responsible for the violent behavior of the dog.

It can happen that you are suddenly attacked by an unfamiliar or particularly aggressive dog . An infrequent situation but which can arise at any time: if you run in the park, during a bike ride or even just walking down the street. So let’s see how to act and how to defend yourself in case a dog attacks you.

What to do if a dog attacks you?

Sometimes it is almost impossible to predict a dog’s violent action. It can happen that you are bitten for no apparent reason or that the animal feels threatened by something that you are unable to realize in advance. Here are 10 useful tips to defend yourself from a dog attack:

1. Stay calm

Dogs are said to have the ability to “smell the fear” and nervousness of people. If you yell, run or move in a strange way, the animal can become aggressive and decide to attack you when it considers you a threat . In such cases, the best thing to do is to stop, take a deep breath and let the dog calm down (waiting for the owners to intervene).

2. Don’t move

When a dog approaches you with the clear intention of attacking , it is essential not to make sudden jerks or movements. Don’t  try to scare him , because you will get the opposite result. The best thing you can do in these cases is to stand still with your hands and arms attached along the body, diverting your gaze elsewhere. Act as if you were a tree or a light pole.

3. Don’t start running if a dog attacks you

Again, you must understand that the dog perceives escape as a threat . If you start running, it will chase you, just like children trying to chase after a bird or insect. And remember that no matter how fast and trained you may be, a dog can spring up to you in an instant and bite you when you least expect it.

4. Distract the animal

If you have something in your hand or near it that is easy to grab, throw it far away to get the dog’s attention. Only at this juncture can you choose to move away, but always calmly and in the opposite direction to the animal. A bottle of water, a backpack, a branch or some food are  great diversions .

5. Give him orders

Another useful tip, if a dog attacks you, is to deal with the situation using classic commands . Speak in a firm and confident voice, ordering the dog, for example, to stop, sit down or “let go” if he is biting something. It is important to pronounce these orders firmly but without looking the animal in the eye .

6. Defend yourself with an object

It is never advisable to respond aggressively, since in general no one is prepared to hit an animal, especially being a dog that can jump and move quickly to the side. If a dog threatens to bite you and approaches, grab a long object and use it to keep it away.

7. Use your legs

In order to subdue the animal and prevent it from biting you, you will have to use all your strength and use the weight of your body. Take an advantage position , perhaps high up, and hit the animal with your straight leg, straight on the back.

8. Take a defensive stance

A good technique to use if a dog attacks you is to make a “ball” with the body , covering the face, arms and throat with the hands. At the same time, you will protect your stomach and stomach with your legs and knees. Thanks to this position, the dog may leave you alone and walk away. In the event of an attack, the wounds will only be superficial, since you are protecting your main weaknesses.

9. Walk slowly

If you see a dog approaching with a clear intention to bite , the best thing you can do is walk backwards in the opposite direction, as slowly as possible. Remember to avoid any sudden movements.

10. Watch out for warning signs

If you already know that there is a dangerous dog nearby, the best precaution is to avoid going through that particular area. Stay away from places where the famous “Warning: Dangerous Dog” sign appears and talk to the owners if you happen to witness or suffer from attacks.

If you are bitten by a dog, even if the wound is superficial, you should immediately go to the  emergency room . Whenever possible, it would be useful to speak with the owners to find out what types of vaccines the animal has been given, but a visit to the hospital is mandatory to avoid even serious infections.

Why does a dog attack?

It is very rare for a dog that lives in society to lash out at a person for no reason. There is almost always a trigger that causes the attack. “ Dogs have three primary resources: eat, drink and reproduce. If they are compromised, the animal will bite, it is the only thing it can do ”, explains Rubén Bosch, dog trainer. What happens is that, many times, humans are not able to identify these primary instincts. “If a dog, for example, is eating and a strange person tries to take away that food, instinctively it will attack,” says this professional.

In addition, and paradoxical as it may be, the fact that the dog is afraid can cause it to react violently. “A dog with fear only has two possibilities: to run away, which is what it always tries or, if it cannot because it is tied up or in a closed enclosure, to bite. Approaching a dog and touching it, without first asking the owner, can end badly because the animal, being attached to the leash, can attack ”, warns the expert.

How to prevent a dog from attacking

Dogs must be educated to live in society. As part of this social learning is the control of fear and primary instincts, possible causes of an attack. “The owner is responsible for this education and socialization. 

When this obligation is disregarded, the dog behaves like the animal that it is, it is not guilty of anything. People think that having a dog is just about feeding it and taking it for a walk, and it is much more. You have to help him manage his resources, socialize him, educate him. That takes work and effort, it is not easy at all ”, insists the trainer.

Getting the dogs used to the everyday environment is part of this education. Bosch confesses to making them strident and everyday sounds when they reach the family: “children’s cries, construction works, shots …”. 

Taking them out to the street and taking them to the subway, so that they get used to the different noises and smells, is another of his techniques. Everything to get them to learn to live in society and not attack people, unless they or someone in their family is attacked.

But what about defense-trained dogs? Are they more predisposed to attack? “These animals only bite if the owner tells them to. If this does not happen, it is because that person is not suitable for its possession. It’s like a driving license: you take it out and then go from a 600 to a Formula 1.

If you don’t train to get behind the wheel of a car, that way you won’t be able to master it. The problem is that people have a trained dog – or they think they are capable of training it – and then they don’t get it ”, says the professional.

How to report a dog attack

Any aggression suffered by a dog must be reported. The responsibility always belongs to the owner of the animal. The owner must provide us with all their data, as well as those of the animal.

With them we must go to a health center where, following a protocol , they will heal our wounds and issue an injury report, which will serve as proof of the attack. The complaint must be presented to the Civil Guard, the Local Police or the National Police, providing the statements of witnesses, if applicable.

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