The CDC documents just under 5 million dog bites annually in the United States. Over 800,000 of dog bite victims annually will require medical attention, nearly 400,000 of those victims are children. Over 30 people die annually as a result of a dog bite. Even with the laws today about leashing your dog, there are still plenty of dogs that run free no matter where you live.
Though you can be attacked by a dog on any day, think of what will happen to dogs when SHTF? Many dogs will be left behind when their owners die or when their owners leave in a panic in an attempt to save themselves and their children.
Other dogs, who may have been strays but were being fed at least occasionally by the kindness of strangers, will now be left to find their own food.
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What You Need to Know
Upon initial confrontation, all dogs want to know three things, who you are, why you are in their space, and who is in charge. Knowing how to act when confronted by a dog may be the one thing that can prevent the dog from attacking you or at least minimize your injuries.
There are two positions an aggressive dog can take, offense or defense. A dog that feels threatened will growl and bark while moving away from you. If this is happening, he is hoping you will also move away. A dog that is tense with their ears flat against their head is definitely not happy with you.
Dogs will bite for many reasons, but typically they bite in reaction to stress or because they feel threatened or cornered, and scared. A dog that isn’t feeling well or is surprised can bite. Dogs bite to protect themselves, their owners, or their puppies.
One of the risks associated with dog bites is rabies. Cases of domestic dogs with rabies have greatly diminished since the 1970’s, rabies is far more common now in cats and in wildlife, primarily raccoons.
In a post-SHTF scenario however, domestic dogs will have far more contact with wildlife which could in fact make rabies once again prevalent in dogs and thus a more serious risk for humans.
Dangerous Dog Breeds
First and foremost, any breed of dog, regardless of size, can be dangerous. Never assume that a dog is NOT a threat because of its breed or size. The most dangerous breeds of dogs changes frequently, but these are the current breeds commonly thought to be the most dangerous:
- German Shepherds
- Pit Bulls
- Wolf Hybrids
- Doberman Pinschers
- Presa Canarios
- Bull Mastiffs
Get detailed statistics here.
Tips for Dealing with a Strange Dog
- Stand still and stand up straight, keeping your eyes on the dog at all times.
- Remain calm. Try firmly telling the dog to sit or stay. Slowly step backwards away from the dog.
- Talk in a gentle, soothing voice. Turn to stay facing the dog if he circles you. Do not let him get behind you. Do not shout.
- Limit your body movements and keep your arms down at your sides.
- In a closed space, never make a dog feel cornered! Gaze at a spot on the dog’s body but not in their eyes.
- A dog that appears aggressive is NOT trying to scare you away. They are issuing a challenge for you to come closer or run away so they can chase you down.
- Smiling at a dog and baring your teeth can actually be seen as aggression by the dog.
- Typically, wild dogs by themselves will shy away from humans, they are simply looking for food. But in a SHTF scenario, wild dogs may form packs and roam the streets. Packs of dogs become more dangerous and in a SHTF scenario, the prey they normally would feast on will be dwindling due to hungry humans hunting in large numbers.
- Keep in mind that many dogs can run faster than you. Pull your gun and prepare to shoot as soon as you become aware of a strange dog in the area. The average person can run nearly 20 feet in the time it takes to pull your holstered gun and fire. Dogs run faster than people!
- Always carry several weapon options including your firearm, pepper spray, a baton, or even a small stick.
If a Dog Attack is Inevitable
If your attempts to calm the dog are not working and the dog is bent on attacking you, then you will need to be prepared to defend yourself. This is especially true for a dog that is clearly very hungry. Look for any kind of weapon to put between the dog and you.
In a frenzied attack, a dog will bite just about anything. Items you can try include a stick, backpack, book, rake, baseball bat, your knife, etc. Pretty much anything you can put between you and the dog will work, including your purse or a trash can lid.
If you have nothing else, wrap one arm with a jacket or shirt to protect yourself and hold that arm up as you signal for help or retreat. Target the throat, face, or eyes of a dog with your EDC knife for maximum impact.
The best way to try to disable a dog quickly and prevent a serious bite or injury to yourself or a victim being attacked by a dog is to attack the throat, face, or jaw muscles. If you carry a gun as part of your EDC, aim for the head or face when firing a smaller caliber gun. Only aim for the dog’s body if you carry a larger caliber gun.
Try to avoid ending up on the ground with the dog. You have the advantage while you remain standing. If you do end up on the ground, protect your throat and face by covering your head with your arms. Roll as quick as you can back and forth along the ground. This should result in throwing the dog off of you and give you time to get to your feet.
If the dog continues to hang on even after you’ve rolled several times, aim for an eye socket with whatever you have, your thumb or any object will suffice.
Depending on how confident you are in the strength of your hands, you can also put both hands around the dog’s neck and attempt to cut off blood flow to the brain. If you choose to try this, do not let up until you are positive the dog is dead or it could re-energize and continue attacking you.
Dogs in a Pack
Dogs in a pack are absolutely more dangerous and aggressive than a lone dog. You will need to have some different strategies. Look for a place that is high ground, such as a parked vehicle, low tree branch, or the roof of a low shed.
Whenever possible, travel in a group and make sure each person is armed and prepared to fight if a pack of dogs attacks. Try to identify the alpha dog in the pack and target him first. This will send a strong message to the rest of the pack and may be enough to send them running.
- Throwing things at a pack for abandoned dogs who once used to be pets can be interpreted as an aggressive move and the dogs may attack.
- If the pack of dogs has its eye on food either from your stockpile or prey that has run through your area, do not get between the dogs and the food.
- Screaming and high-pitched noises are interpreted as prey behavior.
- Yawning and blinking slowly is interpreted as sign of calmness by dogs.
- Raising your arms or shooing at the dogs will be interpreted as aggression.
- Children and elderly can be seen as the weaker members of a group and may be targeted by a pack so keep them in the center of your group or get them to safety first.
Prevention is Key
Regardless of the type of dog, the best method for surviving an attack is prevention. In a post-SHTF scenario, try to avoid places where you have seen wild or feral dogs.
Stay close to camp or inside your home once it gets dusk and avoid going out at night if you can help it as that’s when feral dogs are more likely to be out. Avoid any areas where trash has accumulated or is being stored.
It is possible to survive a dog attack if you stay alert and follow the precautions outlined for you above. Above all, stay calm, don’t scream, and signal for help if you can do so safely.
If possible back away slowly until the dog no longer seems interested or until you can get inside or get on top of a vehicle or into a tree. If an attack seems inevitable, do what you can to minimize your injuries and prepare to fight the dogs with whatever resources you have.
Dogs and Bugging Out
Your dog can be a very important part of your survival group if you need to bug out following a SHTF or other disaster. In most cases, you will prepare a BOB for your dog which will either be carried by him or by you depending on the size and stamina level of your dog.
Your dog’s BOB should include enough food and water to feed him for several days, a strong nylon leash and collar, and a pet first aid kit. Before deciding to take your pet with you when you bug out, carefully consider any possible consequences.
Make sure you are certain that you can keep your dog under control during a bug out situation. This may be especially difficult if you are bugging out in an urban situation, where there will be more people and an increased number of other dogs and animals around.
You will need to be certain that your dog will not attack unless you order them to. If you aren’t certain of this, you may want to consider muzzling your dog while traveling.
Keep in mind that in an urban situation, there may also be broken glass and other debris littering the ground that could be dangerous to your dog.
Even if you don’t own a dog or are not planning to take your dog with you when you bug out, you need to be on alert for aggressive dogs in the area. The number of dogs in an urban area will be especially high.
Dogs left behind or whose owners have died will be scared, confused, and hungry. They will be even more aggressive than when times are normal.
Have you ever been the victim of a dog attack? Share how you survived in the comments below.