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in: Manly Skills, Survival, Visual Guides

March 10, 2015 Last updated: January 1, 2020

How to Survive a Dog Attack

how to survive a dog attack illustration

When I lived in Tijuana, Mexico fending off “roñosos” (mangy) stray dogs was a daily battle. Most of the time they were all bark and no bite. Just remaining calm, avoiding eye contact, and continuing on my way was all I needed to do. If they started charging, I pretended to pick up a rock from the ground and feigned throwing it at them. That usually spooked them enough to leave me alone. If that didn’t work, actual rocks were used. There was one time when a dog wasn’t deterred by either the pretend or real variety, and lunged to bite me. I used a backpack as a shield and employed a flurry of kicks to keep the aggressive canine at bay. It finally relented and I went on my way unscathed.

  1. Stay calm. Both fear and aggression will enhance the dog’s ferocity.
  2. Do not run from the dog or make eye contact; move away slowly while turned peripherally from the animal.
  3. If it looks like the dog will attack, put something between you and the animal –a stick, a jacket, anything to protect yourself.
  4. When the dog charges, use a stick or rocks as weapons. Aim for the eyes and throat especially.
  5. If bitting is unavoidable, offering a forearm leaves 3 limbs free to attack the dog and protects your face and stomach.
  6. After the attack, consult a doctor about diseases carried by dogs, including rabies. Notify the police and animal control.

If you ever encounter a hostile pooch that’s out for blood, here’s how to walk away with jugular intact.

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Illustrated by Ted Slampyak

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