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How to Save Your Dog’s Life

The following post was originally published by Karen on KP’s Dog Blog, October 22, 2007.

If you ever find yourself in the path of a large hostile dog, conventional wisdom says that you should “make like a tree” (stand still and avoid eye contact), and if that doesn’t work, you should “make like a rock” (curl up on the ground, face down, with your arms covering your neck).

However, if you have your dog with you, that’s not going to work because your dog will likely be the target. I’ve found myself in this tricky situation several times lately, and I’d like to share the two methods that I used to save my dogs from being mauled.

The first one was to throw a handful of treats straight at the dog as a decoy and then slowly back away. I always take treats with me to help with training my dogs, but this is another good reason to keep treats handy when out walking. If that doesn’t work or you forgot your treats, try to “make like a wolf” and scare the dog away: You just puff yourself up, looking as imposing as possible, with a really mean look on your face, and you emit the most primal, deepest guttural sound in the most threatening voice that you can muster (for some reason, this comes easy to me!).

Don’t worry about what the neighbors will think—your furry friend’s life could depend on it! I can’t guarantee that these will always work, but they worked like a charm for me, and they’ll give you a fighting chance if you don’t have any other options.

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  • ajita pandey says:

    i have a dog whom i love incredibly. she is a japanese spitz and had been recently mauled by 2 big stray dogs. i couldnt protect it. will it have an adverse effect on her health? please give me a good suggestion.

  • Ann says:

    Hey thanks for the advice. We’ve had a terrible time with one person in particular who likes to keep his large,curious, unneutered male dog off the leash. The guy seems to enjoy seeing people afraid and begging him to call his dog off. My neighbor ordered a spray that is not dangerous or harmful to dogs but will “repel” them. Luckily I haven’t had to use it yet but it makes me feel safer. I can’t imagine how horrible it is to see your beloved pet mauled in front of you. Stay safe. (PS…I had googled to find out how to protect myself and my dog from vicious dogs but found nothing)

  • Alesha says:

    Thank you for this! When my dog a Lhasa Apso was only a couple months old we were attacked by two extrememly large black wolf looking dogs. I grabbed my little guy and held him in my arms and let the one dog bite me instead of him. I was fine, and so was Kozmo, but this is great to know because Kozmo now has two sibling tea cup Chihuahuas weighing in at 1 1/2 and 2 1/2 pounds. We love our walks together and this will really help if another situation arrises. Thank you!

  • Michelle says:

    I want to also thank you for this posting. Tragically, a friend of mine recently lost her Yorkshire Terrier when she was mauled by a German Shepherd, who had been poorly trained. She has nightmares about it and wonders what she could have done differently – it all happened so fast. Perhaps one of these methods would have worked for her – she had no idea what to do.

  • Alicia says:

    I want to thank you for posting this blog. I have two small dogs. They are both under 25 lbs. and would never be able to fight a larger dog off. We get approached about once a month. It is so scary. A lot of dog owners don’t put their dogs on leashes, even though it’s the law. I will always carry treats with me from now on, to help ward the dogs away. Thank you so much for posting this, it may come in handy one day, I will tell everyone I know about how to save yourself & your dog, if they ever encounter this situation.

  • J. says:

    I think if I had someone with me to protect, I would be more bold, but on my own, I just cannot bring myself to stand up to an aggressive dog, even though I’ve been told a few times that running “encourages” them. Dogs do have the ability to maim and kill, and even though they don’t so often, my fear will not bow to my logic.

    I love dogs dearly, but I’m afraid I’ll always own cats and rabbits because of it. *pout*