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7 Ways to Survive a Dog Attack

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Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Let me preface this long post by saying, I am a dog lover. I always have been, and I always will be.

I love dogs, and my heart breaks when I see a scared dog that is obviously lost and can’t find home. 
I’ve tried to save dogs like that, but it’s hard for a frightened dog that’s been living on the streets to trust a human it doesn’t know. 

Fortunately, most dogs have good humans who are responsible and care for the dog and make all interactions from a place of love.

However, the beloved dog may stray from his fenced backyard when a lawn mowing crew shows up and leaves a gate open.

This is NOT a dog-hating post or hate toward any breed in particular. I’m not naming the breed of the dog that attacked her that morning because I don’t believe any one breed is particularly violent, but some dogs have been bred to be more agressive.


Dogs who wander out into the world may become scared of this new world of fast cars, loud noise, and unexpected interactions with humans who don’t know how to handle a stray dog. A scared dog may be dangerous because it doesn’t know who to trust.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Unfortunately, some dogs are mistreated by humans, and that may make them the canine equivalent of a psycho. 

Dogs that are mistreated can become dangerous because they come to expect all humans are out to hurt them. 

Dogs are more prone to attack another dog if something “triggers” that kind of aggressiveness and/or defensiveness in them. 

If you’re a human walking a dog, that may make you a victim too. Most of us love our dogs and will fight to protect them, but a human against an attacking dog is like bringing a toy gun to a gunfight.

A few weeks ago, I wrote 17 Tips to Prevent Dog Bites. That post and today’s post were inspired by the attack my daughter suffered a couple of months ago when she was walking Freddie, her golden doodle. 


There are brutal techniques one can do to save a life, but I am NOT listing those in this post. They are a last resort when a person is literally at risk of major, life-altering injuries or death.

If anyone wants a report based on the research I did about this subject, email me. 

I decided to post about what to do if you are attacked because of what happened to our daughter.

Everyone should know this—especially if you’re  walking with a child. An adult may survive an attack, but a child might not.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay


(1) Get pepper spray that shoots at least 10 feet and know how to use it.
Always have the pepper spray where you can reach it and activate it in an instant. Test it at least once a month. Make sure it hasn’t expired. If a dog charges you, spray it.

(2) Walk with a hiking stick, a walking cane, a golf club, or a baton—something an attacking dog can bite down on besides your hand, arm, foot, or leg.

The idea isn’t to club the dog but to have something that keeps the dog away from you. A last resort would be to strike the dog.

(3) Always carry your cell phone to call for help.

Our daughter always calls in the morning when she walks her dog, Freddie. That’s our morning conversation time. The morning she was attacked, she started screaming. I’ll never forget her blood-curdling screams for help or the sound of the snarling dog accompanied by the panicked barks of Freddie. I immediately called 911 and told them what was happening and the street she was on. 

I shook like a leaf in the hurricane as we raced to her house. A patrol officer was already there interviewing her. Freddie actually threw himself at the big dog attacking her. 

A passing motorist stopped in the nick of time and yelled for her to get in the car. She managed to run to the car, pick up 53 pound Freddie as if he weighed nothing, and jump into the car. Freddie had a coat on that cold morning so he had only a small bite. Daughter had scratches and minor bites on her hand, arms, and legs. That stray dog chased the car after they were in it.

I’m  still reeling emotionally from the experience, but I try not to think of what the outcome would have been if she hadn’t had her phone.

(4) Wear jeans or long-sleeved shirts that might provide protection. 

That’s difficult in hot weather, but it may save you. A little sweat is better than bleeding lacerations.

(5) If you are charged and manage to keep the dog at bay, do NOT run.


Dogs instinctively chase any animal that runs. To an attacking dog, you are prey. Stand and face the dog. You want to intimidate him with your commanding presence. In a loud, firm voice, say, “No!”  

Then back away slowly but keep facing the dog. Never turn your back on the dog. Hopefully, it will turn away and leave. If not, try to stay calm and get to a safe place.

(6)  If you’re accosted or charged by an agressive dog, always report the incident to law enforcement. 

You may have been lucky to get away unscathed, but a child playing in his own yard or an elderly person walking a small dog might not be that lucky.

(7) Report and/or rescue stray dogs.

Use common sense and err on the side of safety.

Check the dog rescue resources available in your local area. Put the phone numbers in your phone’s contacts.

Most responsible owners have their dogs chipped. If you see a dog with a collar running free, it probably lives in the neighborhood and just got loose. 

You may try to approach it, but be very careful. If you’re successful and the dog has tags with a phone number, contact the owner or vet.

If it has no collar, be even more careful. If you can successfully befriend it, then keep it in a fenced area and call a rescue service that can check for the chip to locate the owner. If it has no chip, the rescue service will place the dog for adoption.

NOTE: If you’re a neighbor and see a dog attack someone, call 911 immediately. See if you can safely turn a garden hose onto the dog. A blast of water may make it run away. 

Take care of your furry friends and make sure they stay secure in your yard and home.
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Joan Reeves aka SlingWords: The Word Slinging Adventures of Joan Reeves


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