Ways to Protect Yourself from an aggressive dog (and protect the dog)
Dogs are affectionate and friendly by nature, but sometimes only to the people they know! It’s unfortunate…but if you do chance upon a dog that displays aggressive tendencies, you need to know how to respond. Not just to protect yourself, but that dog, too.
Although Canada hasn’t published a major report on dog bite data since 2003, the World Health Organization reveals that over 10 million people get bitten each year, with almost half of that number being children.
Why Do Dogs Bite?
It breaks our hearts each time we read a story about a local dog bite or attack.
The most common reason: aggression. When dogs are threatened, they don’t have the ability or instinct to take a defensive stance. So, they have no choice but to show aggression by biting, since it’s the only way to defend themselves. Remember that dogs aren’t at fault here, it’s lack of communication, understanding, and boundaries between both parties.
Protecting Yourself and the Dog
As the more rational species (well, most of the time!), it’s our responsibility to protect ourselves and the dog. Here are some highly effective ways to do just that:
1 – Keep calm
Remain calm when in contact with an aggressive dog. It’s best not to show fear or hesitation when dealing with a highly aggressive canine because it might provoke even more aggression.
It’s said that dogs smell your fear. So, when encountering an aggressive dog, act like you know what you’re doing even if you don’t. The truth is, all other strategies in diffusing the situation won’t work if you can’t compose yourself first.
Did you know?
Dogs interpret the fear within people as a form of threat against their very existence. In essence, they’re not aggressive because they want to hurt you. It’s just that they’re reacting to their nature of self-preservation.
2 – Give space
Dogs are naturally territorial, which is why they’ll feel threatened when someone invades their space. Give them proper respect by staying at least five feet away. This rule of thumb applies even more to bigger breeds because they tend to cover a larger territory (or so they think) – meaning they need more space to feel secure. And we want them to feel secure.
Likewise, an eating or sleeping dog shouldn’t be disturbed. You’re doing yourself no favours when you interrupt an animal in the process of filling its stomach or resting. Canines become aggressive or irritable when someone interferes with their private space, especially when munching or getting comfy. This can even happen toward pet parents.
Did you know?
Food aggression is another form of territorial reaction inherent in dogs. They develop a sense of responsibility for guarding their food. About 20% of all dog breeds show signs of food aggression as early as four months of age.
3 – Learn how to use firm commands
A dog may sense reluctance, confusion, and even fear when a command is not given convincingly. Dogs don’t take commands seriously from people that lack confidence.
Firm commands include:
You should act as the alpha in an aggressive dog situation. That’s right – show control of not just yourself but also your environment. Knowing the right command and saying it with conviction can de-escalate the situation and eventually stop a dog from attacking. It also means you avoid hurting the dog to defend yourself.
Did you know?
Dogs live by hierarchy within their pack, which is why they’ll be submissive to those who act like leaders. When the dogs understand that you’re the boss, they will submit. Dogs are like little kids in the sense that they’ll deliberately ignore your orders if they don’t think you mean it. (Don’t we all?)
4 – Leave chained dogs alone
There’s a reason why some dogs are chained or in a crate. Anyone knows that a contained canine could be aggressive. The last thing you want to do is go near or even approach.
Chained dogs are sadly already hurting, and might think about attacking when they get the chance. So, if you see a dog in this situation, leave them alone. There’s no reason for dogs to trust you when they’re in this position.
Did you know?
We know that putting dogs in chains and cages for extended periods does more harm than good. Emotionally, it will lead to aggressiveness and even severely affect their behaviour towards people and other dogs.
5 – Avoid stares
In the animal world, staring is considered a form of aggression. So, when you keep your gaze on a certain dog for too long, it might be perceived as a threat. Staring at a dog is like delivering the wrong message, one of a challenge.
Did you know?
Eye contact is a common form of non-verbal communication among canines. Dogs use it to convey dominance and as a means to show other dogs that they’re ready to do whatever it takes to defend what they think is theirs. Avoiding eye contact with dogs you don’t know is a way of showing that you respect their territory and you mean no ill-will towards them.
Aggressive Dogs Aren’t Meant to be Harmed
Aggressive dogs could be in pain or have something to prove. They might have been mistreated at some point in their lives, whether by humans or other animals. Remember, that no matter how aggressive a dog is, you should avoid causing any harm.
When you’re trying to get past an aggressive animal, always remember to back away slowly. Never make any sudden or unusual movements when dealing with dogs – it’s a sure-fire way for them to see you as a threat.
Last Thoughts on Aggressive Dogs
Some dog breeds are naturally aggressive, even without outside stimulation. These dogs should never be left alone with other animals, kids, or strangers because they could inflict harm.
But, these instances are few and far between – just about any dog is reasonable if you know how to respond to its tendencies. We love all dogs, but sometimes it’s just the wrong timing or understanding. Stay safe!