What are the most dangerous dogs in a dog attack? Do you know how to survive a dog attack? How do you approach dog self defense? Whether it’s a single attack dog or pack of dangerous dogs — survival tactics can save your life in a dog attack.
There’s a reason why police dogs are effective as attack dogs. Picture an angry German Shepherd traveling at light speed with fangs bared… Would you know how to survive a dog attack by a trained police dog or military dog? (Speaking of which, if you’re worried about being tracked by dogs in a martial law of foreign invasion scenario, make sure you check out our guide on how to escape and evade tracking dogs)
Let me put it this way: There have been plenty of criminals that have turned tail and run the other way. Unfortunately for these criminals, that may be the worst thing a person can do when a dog attack occurs. The reality is that dog attacks do happen. Along with this, it’s a rare person that hasn’t at least felt threatened by a dog at one point or another. In fact, it’s a rare person that hasn’t felt threatened by a dog in their own neighborhood. Never mind the wild dogs that you’re likely to encounter in a post-disaster scenario.
Besides, if you’ve been reading the articles at SecretsofSurvival.com, then you know that when it all hits the fan and we suffer a collapse, dangerous dogs are likely to be loose in several communities, yours may be included. After all, if it’s a choice between feeding your children and your pet – we know what people would choose. That means hungry, feral dogs roaming the streets.
While a get home bag with supplies and gear packed in a top survival backpack will help you a great deal in many different survival situations, they’re unlikely to help you survive a dangerous dog attack unless you’ve got pepper spray or stun baton in your gear list.
You see, loose, dangerous dogs are a vastly underestimated threat in a time of national collapse, making awareness along with protective items that can deter dogs with an ultrasonic pitch essentials to consider.
Today, many home owners own dangerous dogs that they do not take on walks around the neighborhood. Just because you don’t see these dogs doesn’t mean that they’re not there.
How to Survive a Dog Attack: Know What The Most Dangerous Dogs Are
- Pit bulls
- Doberman Pinschers
- Presa Canarios
- German Shepherds
- Mixed breeds
These breeds make up the top 10 most dangerous dog breeds of most lists you might come across.
Then you’ve also got dogs such as Bull Mastiffs (giants) that can be trained to be attack dogs, though not all of them are. Some dogs like German Shepherds and even hybrid-wolves (which is a wolf bred with a dog such as a Husky or German Shepherd) can be trained to be friendly or they can be trained to be attack dogs.
Finally, military and police attack dogs are sometimes bought (at a high price tag) by civilians and then kept as protection at homes and commercial properties.
Now, ask yourself this: What happens in a truly catastrophic disaster such as an earthquake, hurricane, tornadoes, or even a WMD (weapon of mass destruction)? Dangerous dogs in several communities can end up loose as walls and fences are knocked down by earthquakes or catastrophic weather events. Not only that, they’ll be hungry and feral.
Surprise Awaits Looters In Several Communities
Looters will unintentionally let loose dangerous dogs when they target the nicest neighborhoods and estates, opening gates, kicking down doors and unexpectedly coming face to face with attack dogs that have been waiting for this moment all their lives. These dogs are bred and trained to kill. Several looters are likely to be maimed and killed as dangerous dogs like Presa Canarios now have open doors and open gates leading into neighborhoods where these dogs have never previously set foot or even been seen by neighbors. Do you even know what a Presa Canario is? You can bet that several home owners in your state own one. Right up there on that same list are pit bulls, owned by a lot more people and in a lot more neighborhoods, from the inner city to the countryside. These dogs have a dangerous reputation for a good reason. By far they have killed more people than any other dangerous dog in modern times. It just makes sense to know the basics behind dog self defense.
So how can you protect yourself?
How to Survive a Dog Attack: Be Prepared, Have A Weapon
The greatest fighters in the world are the ones that prepare themselves for battle the best. As such, if you want to live through a dog attack, it would be beneficial to be prepared. In other words, have some things on you that could be beneficial in a dogfight. Many of these are non lethal self-defense weapons that can in some cases also be used on human attackers.
Ultrasonic Dog Deterrent – Dogs can hear higher pitches than humans can, and so there are devices out there that can emit extremely unpleasant, high pitched noises that dogs can hear that we cannot. They are frequently used as training devices, but can also be used to scare off dogs. Imagine if you were walking down the street and suddenly an extremely loud, high pitched noise was blasted right in your direction – you’d probably take a step back and hesitate to walk any further. These ultrasonic devices have the same effect on dogs, with the advantage of us not being able to hear them at all. We like this model, but they are all reasonably similar. Keep in mind this is your first line of defense – if the dog is aggressive enough or feral enough, it may continue to move towards you despite the unpleasant sounds. These devices are meant to ward off dogs without hurting them, and if they continue to pursue you, then you might have to move on to a more potent weapon.Check Out the SABRE Police Strength Pepper Spray
Pepper Spray – It’s never a bad idea to have pepper spray designed to make something trying to hurt you think twice. In general, we our go-to recommendation for Pepper Spray is the Sabre Police Strength Tactical Series. You can also choose to look specifically for dog repellent when you shop for pepper spray, but keep in mind dog repellent pepper spray is specifically designed to be safe for dogs (while still being effective). In a post-disaster world, that’s probably not on your list of priorities. The Sabre Police Strength Pepper Spray is stronger and more concentrated, and is effective across the board, which is why it’s our recommendation across the board on the site.Check Out the SABRE Police Strength Pepper Spray
One thing to consider though… Having pepper spray by itself doesn’t mean you’re safe from a dog attack (you’ll read why in a moment)…
Stun Baton or Stun Gun – As you can tell, we’ve listed these self defense weapons in order of severity. Using a stun baton or stun gun on a dog in everyday life would be frowned upon (to say the least) and seem excessive… But we’re not talking about everyday life here – we’re not talking about self defense against dogs in your neighborhood. We’re potentially talking about wild, feral dogs or even wolf hybrids that you might come across after a major disaster. In those circumstances, having a stun baton or stun gun on hand for any kind of attacker is fair game. The advantages of a stun baton are that you can also use it as a close quarters weapon, which is particularly useful when warding off a dog attack (because they will try to get close). A stun gun is also a close range weapon (the projectile version is called a taser), but it can’t be used as a stick or bat. It’s more portable though, so if you choose to go with a stun gun we’d recommend the Vipertek VTS-989. If you prefer the baton, we recommend the O-MEGA 150,000 Volts Stun Baton. Both these weapons are powerful enough to be banned in multiple states, so you should make sure that purchasing one is legal in your area before proceeding.Check Out the O-MEGA 150,000 Volts Stun Baton
Sticks and stones may break his bones… – Here’s the thing – maybe you get caught out in a situation where you don’t have any defensive weapons with you. In this situation, a good stick can be a formidable weapon. Why? Well they can be used in a variety of ways from hitting a dog on the nose, to more aggressive stances if that doesn’t work. George Donahue at FightingArts.com even spoke of having a drumstick (real drums that you play, not a turkey) to force down a dog’s throat as a last resort.
If it can be concealed, that may be even better (depending on the situation).
Also remember that preparation means more than having the right defensive tools. Thus, you should always be highly aware when traveling outside. Beyond that, know where the more aggressive dogs are along the routes you’re traveling… and do your best to avoid those areas.
If you’re thinking about dog self defense in everyday life, then the first thing to do is to speak to the owner of an overly aggressive dog and make it clear that the you feel unsafe due to the dog’s behavior. Some people are just wildly inconsiderate and will do nothing – if you’re forced to take action towards an aggressive dog that’s also a pet, we’d stick to the ultrasonic device or at most the dog deterrent pepper spray.
In a time of collapse of course or even a “post-apocalypse” scenario, the dog owners may be dead, his dogs staying near their home, but attacking anything that passes by within eye sight or hearing range. Remember, dogs have better hearing than humans. In this case, as we mentioned, anything is fair game, so arm yourself with the stun baton we recommended and defend yourself as necessary.
How To Avoid A Dog Attack
Okay, let’s say you are prepared and then that dog comes running out of someone’s yard angrily at you. Be ready to pull out and fire off your pepper spray.
Some report that pepper spray can serve to only make an attacking dog more angry, and to not pull it out until the last moment (but of course if you time this wrong it may be too late for you) but we have first hand report from a colleague who teaches weapons for tactical solutions (Teanis Tillmon of Street Defense Research), that he has used pepper spray very effectively against charging, very angry pit bulls and other dogs. He adds that it can be more effective than a (non-stun) baton or even a firearm, stating he knows first hand about police who have still been charged after firing a gun.
Pepper spray, by far, is Tillmon’s preferred weapon against a dangerous dog.
Before it comes to any encounter with a dog, though — first, you should try to avoid the confrontation. And that means. . .
Do not appear threatening to the canine – Stare downs happen before boxing and MMA matches (and even street confrontations) for a reason. Both people are obviously trying to intimidate one another. They want to let the other know that they’re ready for the confrontation.
Which is why you don’t want to stare a dog in the eyes. That’s threatening to a canine, and threatening is the last thing you want to be. Along with that, stay calm. If you don’t, the dog will either think you want a fight or are scared, both of which can be detrimental.
Beyond that, here are a list of considerations that could keep a dog attack from occurring once you’ve happened upon an aggressive dog.
1. You might try commanding the dog to “sit,” or “stay.” This could give you time to think or even get away if they are familiar with the command.
2. Do not make any sudden movements. Rather, keep your hands down at your sides. This may serve to calm the dog down and show them that you are not a threat.
3. Do not turn your back on the dog. Canines often take that as a sign of weakness or an opening to attack.
4. Further, do not run away. That will probably only cause the dog to come after you. Dogs have a prey-drive. Attack dogs can have a very strong prey-drive.
4. Don’t smile. Bared teeth may signify aggression to a dog.
5. Back away slowly once the dog stops paying attention to you.
Oftentimes, utilizing the aforementioned in such a way will keep a dog from attacking. However, if this doesn’t stop the impending attack, then there are further things to consider.
When All Hell Breaks Loose: Self Defense Against Dogs
1. Put something between your body and the dog’s teeth if you can. This could be a stick or something that separates the two of you. Of course, it could be a jacket wrapped around your arm, etc. Remember, that if you give it an arm then you have another plus both your legs free.
Along with this, you don’t want to end up on the ground with a dog.
2. If you understand Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, then you know that oftentimes attempting to simply pull your arm out of an armbar only serves to allow the hold to come together more easily. In the same spirit, pulling your arm from a biting dog will only help them to rip it to pieces. This is a bad idea. If a dog has a hold on a limb, your first priority is to deal with the dog and not to pull the limb out.
3. By the way, this is the time to try that pepper spray to the dog’s eyes (once the attack has commenced). If that works, great! AT THIS POINT, the pepper spray has the best chance of working. The reason is this: If an attack dog is charging you, and you pull out your spray and fire it at the dog, the dog can be moving so fast it charges right through it, but it may be more angry and more willing to use its mouth and teeth.
So, rather than spray as it’s charging, you want to spray once you’ve brought the dog to a halt so that it can absorb the full brunt of the pepper spray.
4. This is also the time that you might want to try that stick (or if you’re lucky, stun baton or stun gun) you brought.
However, your best bet may not be to simply hit an attacking canine with it (though you could try that). Rather, attempt to shove it down the dog’s throat. This may cause the canine to choke and give you back your arm. Obviously if you have a stun weapon, then you should stun the dog here.
If a stick isn’t available, you might even consider shoving the arm the dog has down its throat depending on your situation as it could possibly have the same effect.
5. If none of the above work, then you’re running out of options beyond trying to truly beat the dog at its own game (in other words, no pun intended, you’re about to get into a real dogfight). You can try to strikes to the eyes — it’s time to get mean — or a strike directly to the throat may be in order.
6. If that doesn’t work, you could even try grabbing one of the dog’s hind legs, according to George Donahue at FightingArts.com, and ripping up (thus putting the dog on its back in a submissive position). This could allow you to drag it.
Remember, though, that such a movement may put you at risk for ending up on the ground (a bad thing as it leaves your neck and other vital areas open to the dog). So proceed with care.
7. Of course, this is all assuming that you don’t have a gun on you. Still, you would only use such weaponry as a last resort (even if one of these SecretsofSurvival.com scenarios did play out). Remember that most dogs act angrily only when they feel that you are threatening them or their family. Thus, the above steps could very well work before resorting to such tactics.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean they will.
In the end, dog attacks can be vicious and bloody. In fact, they can be deadly. Along with this, being prepared can mean the difference between life and death. As with any survival scenario, you should choose life and be ready.
Other Weapons To Survive a Dog Attack
Pitchfork – A pitchfork is dangerous to attacking dogs. They have been used successfully to kill attacking dogs (including pit bulls) in the past by farmers and families alike. Pitchforks are designed for bailing hay. But the multiple sharpened spear points are a dangerous weapon against attacking dogs.
Baseball bat – A baseball bat, especially an aluminum bat, is a great weapon against an attacking dog — you just have to have the eye-hand coordination to swing and connect as it’s rushing at you with it’s teeth bared. Sometimes standing in front of a dangerous dog with a bat or club raised high can be enough to make it leave you alone (if the dog has previously learned to fear a club or threatening arm). Most dogs may turn tail after taking a baseball bat to the head or shoulders. But, in the case of a very angry, large, dangerous dog, one swing may only stun it temporarily. Be ready to swing again, hard and furiously. Use footwork to step back and then step laterally and step forward again after each swing hits. That way you’re never in the same place and by using footwork (from boxing, martial arts, etc) you make it a bit harder for the dog to find anything to bite into, after it’s been hit; hit the dog again and again until it finally flees or is out for the count.
Survival knife – If you’re traveling through an area following a catastrophic disaster, realize that dangerous dogs may be loose — especially in a post-apocalypse scenario. As said above, if a dog threatens you, wrap an arm (weak arm) with heavy cloth (like a professional security dog trainer), so that if the dog charges, you can give it an arm to bite into, leaving your strong arm free to strike back.
You should have some kind of knife handy for self defense (again, this is a collapse we’re talking about here), and for this situation a survival knife is a decent weapon, sheathed to your side (remember, you need to be able to get to it in a hurry) – see our article on the best survival knives if you don’t already have one.
What if you only have a smaller knife? If a dangerous dog attacks, give it your cloth-wrapped forearm; as it sinks it’s teeth in, stab repeatedly and viciously with your other arm just under it’s front leg or above the top of it’s shoulder, through it’s shoulder-blades and hopefully you’ll reach an organ. This dog doesn’t have a chance; keep stabbing and don’t let go of the knife.
But be warned, a large survival knife is a better weapon for an attacking dog.
Just one deep stab can rip apart an attacking dogs flesh and muscle, possibly piercing multiple organs, and if you twist the knife handle, the blade will twist inside the dog, causing the dog excruciating pain; this dog is down for the count. You just won the fight with your first strike and possibly saved your life.
Self Defense Against Dogs: Taken To The Ground By An Attack Dog
Ok, so the worst case scenario has happened, and a dangerous dog has taken you to the ground. Your first instinct should be to protect your throat and back of your neck by covering your head in your hands. With your head covered in your hands, roll your entire body fast (rolling on the ground is an easy movement for people — throw yourself to the ground and try it sometime), at the same time rolling a forearm toward it’s mouth. If a dog is going to bite anything, let it bite your forearm — that is better than a dog biting your throat or face.
Once it has an arm in it’s mouth, time to think fast. With your other arm, grab it’s face, find an eye socket, and bury your thumb furiously into the dog’s eye; destroy the eyeball; pop that thing, as disgusting as it might sound. Attacking the eyeball can cause this dog to finally let up.
If it doesn’t let up, you have two more body parts to go for:
A) The other eyeball.
B) The carotid arteries in the neck. You’ll need both hands to go for the carotid arteries; which an opportunity may present itself if the dog attacks a leg or you’ve ended up on top of the dog while rolling around. Clap both hands around it’s neck and squeeze; reports say you can quickly choke a dog to death by cutting off the blood flow to the brain. Careful though; if you let it up too soon it may only be stunned momentarily and may suddenly resume the attack.
How to Survive A Pack Of Dogs Attacking
Against a pack of dogs you’ve got your work cut out for you. In some communities following a catastrophic disaster, after several weeks dogs may begin to band together and form packs. As food becomes scarce and days go by without eating, tempers can increase and pack mentality can make these dogs a lot more dangerous than they were before the disaster.
If you’re attacked by a pack of dogs, even as few as three dogs, you’re going to have a hard time making it out of this attack without injury. With just a knife you might stab the first dog, but not before the other two sink their teeth into you and begin biting and tearing.
As unlikely a scenario as this may seem for people, in a time of collapse it would be smart to travel with multiple people, each armed with a weapon for self-defense. There will be packs of dogs in several areas and you may come across a pack of dogs more than once.
Self Defense Against A Pack Of Dogs
You might want to have a strategy, where you take a position you can defend against wild dogs anytime you come to a new area. Look for parked cars and trucks — you can fight from the back of pick-up trucks and most dogs won’t be able to get to you. You may also be able to climb on to the hood of a car and swing or shoot (e.g if you have a survival bow) your weapon from there.
Once in a new area, use noise to entice a pack of dogs to your location. The same methods that work for hunting wolves in Canada and even parts of the U.S. will probably have a good effect on dog packs also. Dogs themselves are actually not far removed from wolves, genetically. Remember they can breed together; they’re the same species. The same dynamics that take place in wolf packs will take place in dog packs also; they can likely be hunted using the same tactics that wolves can be hunted.
Wolves are territorial and also curious animals. A good wolf-howl can cause other wolves to howl or bark in return. Use a good wolf-howl to draw in a pack of dogs.
Wolves are also drawn to young or dying animals — these are typically an easy meal for a wolf. Wolves can be hunted using a predator call, a small device that makes a sound to mimic the noise of an animal in distress like a field mouse, rabbit, or elk. You can carry a predator call in your backpack or you can simply practice making animal sounds by studying the sounds of wildlife and then doing your best to mimic them. Use these calls to draw in a pack of dogs where they can then walk right into your ambush and be dealt with accordingly.
Drawing In A Pack Of Dogs To A Position You Can Fight From
If you have the means and the ammo, a shot gun is a great weapon to use against a pack of dogs (or possibly wolves — if you live in the northwestern states and anywhere near an area of wilderness that predator call may draw in actual wolves — remember that).
Be able to reload quickly, just in case these dogs or wolves are a bit too eager, perhaps more hungry and less daunted by gun shots than usual.
Take Down The Alpha
When it comes to a pack of dogs, just like wolves, try to spot the alpha male and even an alpha female — a pack of dogs can be a lot like a pack of wolves. The alpha male may be the most dangerous and vicious of the pack. Aim for him first. The reason he’s the alpha is that he’s the toughest and most vicious of the pack. Wounding or killing him first just might send a message.
Intimidating A Dangerous Dog Or Wolf
When you have no other choice, you can try to intimidate a dog or pack of dogs or even a pack of wolves (this also works with mountain lions; don’t try it though with African lions).
Yell and scream with rage in your voice at the dog louder than you’ve ever yelled or screamed before; shout with violence in your voice; roar (yeah, I said “roar”). Stand up tall and waive your arms threateningly; throw rocks, act dangerous and unstable. Continue to yell. Scare the pants off this dog.
Dogs and wolves can be scared off. This is a method that has worked for people in the past. I have to admit though — though this might work just fine today on your next bike ride or jog through a rural area on a loose dog you come across, there’s a good chance it may not work during a time of collapse or even a “post-apocalypse” scenario when multiple dangers are likely to be in the land. Dogs and wolves may simply be unphased by intimidation tactics, should that day come.
Pit Bulls May Be More Dangerous Than Wolves
Be wary of using intimidation tactics on pit bulls. You probably shouldn’t even try. This is one breed that may be more aggressive than even wolves and your aggression is only going to trigger more aggression in a pit bull. Why? Several generations of pit bulls have been bred for aggression, which may include the pit bulls that have just spotted you.
Wolves in the wild, on the other hand, aren’t bred for aggression, though they can be extremely aggressive by nature.
A pit bull is like your crazy Uncle Larry: Pit bulls are sometimes “not right” in the head. They don’t make good guard dogs for a camp simply because they pose a risk of attacking people who belong to the camp — especially children.
While a wolf in the wild might take more predictable actions, a pit bull is just too unpredictable. You better have a Plan-B for dealing with pit bulls. Don’t count on trying to intimidate any pit bulls you encounter.
Pit Bulls Are The Most Dangerous Dogs
The unfortunate thing about pit bulls also is this: Not only are they the most dangerous dog with by far the most maimings and killings than any other canine in the U.S. (including wolves), there are also a high number of pit bulls. Most likely someone in your community owns one; some communities have more than one pit bull owner, owning more than one pit bull. Many pit bulls have made great pets for people, though, by their nature are still dangerous, especially if they get loose following a collapse or widespread disaster. Hope for the best — but be prepared for the worst.
Getting caught unprepared by a pack of vicious dogs is probably one of the most painful ways to die. Unfortunately, it’s likely to happen to people in multiple communities should society as we know it fall to the ground.
Update: What’s The Best Weapon For A Bicyclist To Use to Survive a Dog Attack? Police Stun Baton
A reader commented on this article (see “Comments” section below): “I recently started bicycle riding and went on a 35 mile ride last weekend and I ended up on a road called Indian School road just east of Scottsdale, AZ. This is rural Indian land and went past one house and one huge dog started racing towards me, then to my horror I saw about 8 or 9 other equally large dogs (not sure of breeds, but mastiffs, dobermans, rottweilers, etc) also racing towards me – I pedaled like crazy and they caught up with me, snarling, snapping away at my feet, it seemed like forever, but maybe they were at me for 0.25 to 0.5 miles and eventually they dropped back. Scariest moment of my life. I really believe I would have been mauled to death if I came off. I won’t go on any land like this again, but a question, what kind of gun should I get that would be effective here and also practical on a bike?”
Response: I had to do a bit of research to find something that is likely to do the job you need it to do (mace, pepper spray, ultrasonic noise devices are just likely to fail you in a situation like this). You could carry a shot gun, but can you get to it in time before a pack of dangerous dogs gets to you? Not likely. Weeks could go by, you’ll be complacent, it might be in your backpack.
I checked out a forum by triathletes (runners, bicyclists, etc) and after all my reading today, have to say that one product that’s recommended (and proven) is a metal stun baton. All things considered, this is possibly the most effective self defense product that a bicyclist can use in a hurry, on a pack of dangerous dogs that’s giving chase.
As you’re pedaling and the first dog comes up on your legs, point the baton down and press the stun button. You’ve got a three foot buffer between you and the dog. The voltage in one of these is going to paralyze the first dog; if that doesn’t scare off the rest of the pack, use it on dog # 2 as he gets close to your pedals. The only trick to using this device is that you need to make sure this thing is charged (has electricity stored inside).
You can mount it to your handlebars so that you can get to it easily as you’re riding, or strap it to your back. Practice pulling it and using it as you’re riding. Here’s a second link to a bicyclist forum where you’ll find a first-person account of this stun baton’s effectiveness: review of police stun baton on triathlete forum
First Class Dog Training: Free 20 Minute Video on Preventing Dog Attacks
George Donahue: Dealing with Dog Attacks
Our Top Posts About Self Defense
More Information about Surviving Self Defense Situations
Are You Prepared for the Halloween Crime Spike?
How to Be A Hero and Stop a Terrorist Attack … As It Unfolds
Top 10 Deadly Events Where “Fight or Flight” Can Save Your Life
Israeli Defense Force: How to Survive a Shooting
How to Survive an Encounter with Dangerous Animals After A Disaster
Indiana Jones and the Secret of Survival
Escape and Evasion: Surviving Kidnappings and Forced Captivity
How to Survive An Armed Robbery
Why You Can Trust UsSecrets of Survival has been around since 2002 (almost 20 years) and our survival knowledge is the real deal. We were writing and discussing survival and prepping before people even knew what the word “prepping” meant. We also preceded the trendiness of survival media nowadays… for example, we were arround before Bear Grylls filmed his first episode of Man vs Wild.
Our contributors and writers over the years have included survival experts of all stripes – including a Green Beret Special Forces Medic, a former Navy SEAL, a leading survival instructor who’s been featured on National Geographic and PBS. Every article is either written or reviewed by someone who is an expert in either survivalism, prepping, or homesteading (or all three) and our goal is to be as practical and educational as possible.
While some of our writers and contributors use pseudonyms in order to protect their privacy (never a bad idea in these times where out of control surveillance is a growing problem), you can trust that everybody who gets to write for us has been vetted for their knowledge and passion when it comes to survival.
Click here to learn more about Secrets of Survival and our writers and contributors.