How I Fended Off a Dog Attack

How I fended off a dog attackYesterday, I took my Bengal cat Kaylee out for a leash walk. Much like a dog, she likes to have the freedom to roam, and now associates the leash with doing so. On our walk, we encountered a man who had two dogs on a leash, one was a smaller black Scottie, the other was a larger dog, maybe a smaller Great Dane or a Great Dane cross of some sort (something like the dog here on the right).

We were about 50 feet away when we saw them. The man said to stay back because his dogs would go for Kaylee. As I started to draw her away, the larger dog charged towards us, catching the older owner off guard and he lost control of both dogs, and they barrelled toward my cat at full speed.

I immediately lifted Kaylee by the harness to get her off the ground, but she very naturally was so freaked out by the charging, barking dogs that she tried to bolt out of my arms, scratching me in the process. But because she was still attached to the leash, she couldn’t escape as the larger of the two dogs lunged at her with his large jaws. It’s all a bit of a blur (I am still a little shaky from the adrenaline) but I started screaming at the two dogs and smashing at their noses with the plastic leash handle I had in my hands. As I did so, Kaylee managed to get free of her harness and bolt away.

I managed to find Kaylee and bring her inside. She seems to be fine with only one small, shallow wound that isn’t bleeding. We cleaned her up and called the vet who told us just to monitor the wound to make sure it doesn’t get infected. The dog owner came by afterwards to make sure Kaylee was okay. He was still out of breath and very apologetic about the incident. He’s an elderly man and was caught by surprise and lost control. It happens. I apologized for hitting his dogs and asked if they were okay. He assured me that his dogs were fine and that he would have done the same thing if he had been in my shoes.

The Takeaways from this Incident

I learned a lot from this incident about a variety of things, not all necessarily related to each other. Here are my takeaways:

1. Increase reactionary distance for animal threats. I thought at the distance I was at we would be able to get away safely, considering the dogs were on a leash. This was a mistake. The leash is only as good as the owner’s control with it and bigger dogs, when motivated, can be harder to control. From now on, if a dog is a possible threat, I’ll aim to be at a much greater distance than what I was at yesterday. If I even see a bigger dog within eye sight, I will pick up my cat immediately and bring her away.

2. Striking a dog’s nose is effective. I had heard this before, and used it to my advantage today. It disrupted the larger dog’s attack, allowing Kaylee to escape. Some other good targets (from what I’ve read), include the throat and the back of the head (not the top of the skull which is much more rigid). For more info, read Loren Christensen’s book Self-Defense against a Dog Attack (available in e-book formats on Amazon.com¬†or on Amazon.ca). Or for a shorter reference, read How to Handle a Dog Attack.

A leash controller is an effective weapon of opportunity.3. A leash controller is a good weapon of opportunity. It was in my hand. It was hard plastic. I didn’t even think about using it; it was pure instinct at work. It was what I happened to have in my hand when the attack occurred. It also had the nice side benefit that if the dog had tried to snap back at me, it might have snapped at the device I was using rather than my hand.

4. I have a strong protective instinct. I’ve never been in a position where I’ve been defending someone or something else before, so this was my first time doing this. I got so angry and adrenalized, I let loose with a side of myself I’ve never seen before. I screamed bloody murder while I reigned multiple blows on the two dogs (particularly the larger one) until Kaylee was able to get free. Weirdly, I think I would have been a lot calmer and more collected if I had been defending myself against a human attacker. The few very minor incidences in which I have defended myself against a person, time seemed to slow down. But in this incident, time seemed to speed up and I felt very much like an animal, using bestial instincts. I was not in the slightest concerned about my safety. The only thing I had in my mind was to fight the dogs off Kaylee.

5. Bigger adrenaline dumps have greater mental side effects. As this was the most “combat stress” (or adrenalinization) I’ve ever experienced, I noticed more of the side effects that I often talk about to my students. I experienced tunnel vision, auditory exclusion and funnelled concentration, as I focused on the primary threat; the dogs. Once the dogs came at us, the owner stopped registering on my radar. I literally can’t remember where he was throughout the whole experience. I don’t remember him calling his dogs, what attempts he made to control them, etc. I also experienced time distortion. When I dealt with human aggressors in the past, I was able to keep my adrenaline more in check, so time seemed to go by slowly in those incidents. But this time, because the adrenaline went wild, likely because I felt like the threat was greater, and time seemed to go by quickly. I also experienced the memory gaps the police officers talk about when they have been under combat stress. I don’t remember seeing the dogs running toward us, nor what I yelled as I fought back. The whole experience is a bit of a blur.

Have you ever dealt with a dog attack before? What did you do? Please share your thoughts/experiences in the comments.

P.S. Kaylee seems to have gotten over the attack. Here she is resting peacefully, only 2 hours after her ordeal. :)

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Comments (13)

13 thoughts on “How I Fended Off a Dog Attack

  1. This is a spectacular piece. Well-written, informative, and even entertaining. Thank you for putting it out there.

  2. Good post Lori… being the owner of a Bengal as well (not that I walk him on a leash ;-), as well as a self-defense guy and a dog owner, I found your post interesting. Great job tying self-defense into an animal context. I often take my dog to off leash parks and have put a lot of thought into how I would step in should he encounter an aggressive dog. (my guy is pretty beta. He’s a lover not a fighter ;-) In any event, good job on the post.

  3. Lori,

    Great blog. I’m glad you and Kaylee are ok. Good to see Kaylee resting after her experience.

    I was directed here through Loren’s post on fb. I plan on returning again to learn from your writings.

  4. All hail Lori defender of helpless kittens and pacifier of unruly dogs. Seriously though good reaction on your part, I’m glad your cat was ok. That old man really shouldn’t be walking the street with dogs he can’t control. What if it had been a kid the dog went after? If it were me I probably would have called the police.

    I’ve often wondered how to defend against a dog attack. Now I know: hit them in the nose, lol. I found that most if not all problems in the realm of violence can be solved by plain, good old hitting. Preferably first, hard and often.

    I did find a rather hilarious video on youtube concerning dog fighting skills: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OrkvjdlWWG0. The supposed history of his school is rather far fetched (jews fleeing from Egypt being chased by Pharao’s dogs, ending up in China where Bodhidharma happened to find their secret scrolls in a cave, after which he created Kung Fu ;)) but the techniques themselves look like they might work (flipping a dog over renders it pretty much helpless although obviously it won’t be so easy against a real trained attack dog). Now where do I find a mean rottweiler to try this on? ;)

    Being the dog fighting expert now, what do you think?

    • Thanks for sharing. I took a look at the video you provided. I think these techniques would be great if you want to learn more humane methods for controlling a dog without hurting it, and you have the opportunity to practice them enough to learn them fully in a safe environment (against a real dog). That being said, if you’re not going to have ongoing training opportunities and you’re more concerned with the quickest, most effective ways to repel a dog (without concern for its safety), a good swift kick to the nose or under the chin with a decent pair of shoes would be best. I had sandals on at the time, so I relied on my plastic leash handle to deliver the strikes.

      As for the old man, he didn’t even realize that he wouldn’t be able to control the dog in that context. But he did learn something, the next time I saw him, he only had one dog on his walk. I guess he knows to only try to handle one at a time now. There was no need for police intervention. No serious harm came to Kaylee. He was extremely apologetic and took full responsibility for his dogs having learned what could happen. And we still have a civil, neighbourly relationship. I feel that the police should only be involved when necessary for maintaining public safety. The man learned his lesson and is now taking proper precautions. Everyone makes mistakes. Fortunately, no one was seriously hurt in this incident so as long as he has learned from it, I am satisfied.

  5. Lori, I had a rotti attack my dog one day on a walk. Two girls were walking about eight dogs and had no way of controlling the aggressive rotti. he attacked my little dog but my bigger dog intervened and started getting the worse of it. fortunately the trails were muddy that day so I was wearing my work boots. I kicked that dog in the ribs about four times as hard as I could with my steel toed boots. He turned on me. As he turned towards me I kicked him up under the jaw as hard as I could. I am pretty sure his owners needed to get him to the vet after he ran away and stood shaking about twenty feet away. The girls who were walking these dogs did nothing to control their dogs or get them leashed; both my dogs were leashed. Another big dog came up and was not aggressive but being adrenalized and protective I pulled out my cold steel voyager and was ready to cut its throat if it attacked my dogs. It was amazing how much quicker and more efficiently the dog walkers got their crew under control then and how apologetic they were when one of their dogs was about to be killed if it attacked. Because I live rural and have to walk my dogs where there are large predators and even feral dogs I carry an XL voyager with a 6 inch blade.

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