By: Valerie Masi, Best Paw Forward
Dog attacks are a traumatic experience for both humans and dogs. It is important to stay calm and try to break up dogs as soon as possible. When humans react by screaming and yelling, it only adds fuel to the fight. The dogs will get more fired up like a crowd does for players at a football game. After a traumatic experience, you and your dog will need to rebuild confidence right away.
To Break Up An Attack:
If you find yourself in this situation and you are with another person, don’t panic – stay calm and communicate with your partner. Do not reach in and try to grab dogs by their collar. That’s a sure fire way to get hurt. It is better to have each person grab a dog by the back legs and start moving backwards like a wheelbarrow. This will keep them from turning around to bite you. When dogs are in this state of mind they are in a pure reactive state, which will cause them to bite anything touching them including you.
When by yourself, call out for help. If you have no choice in the matter and it’s now a life-or-death situation for your dog, the best thing would be to grab the dog that attacked your dog by the hind legs and wheelbarrow them away in a zig-zag pattern to give your dog a chance to get away.
Prevent the situation if at all possible. Consider carrying an air horn, pepper spray or a walking stick you can use should a dog get out from a residence and approach you and your dog aggressively. Stop the dog with a low, loud voice tell the dog NO! If you have a stick, raise it in the air with your voice – then bring it down and point to dog. If you have the air horn or pepper spray do the same thing.
If the dog comes forward, use the can air or pepper spray. Always be aware of the wind when spraying pepper spray.
To Rehabilitate Yourself & Your Dog Following An Attack:
If you’ve been through an attack, you and your dog are now traumatized. How do you get over it? The most important thing to do is remain calm right after the fight. Do not grab your dog and give it affection in a panic state-of-mind. Just like a child needs their parents to remain calm, it works the same with a dog.
Focus on what you need to do for the dog. Remember, dogs stay in the moment, so once the incident is over – it should be over.
If your dog starts to show aggression or fear towards dogs, then look at your energy. Are you keeping that event fresh in your mind? Is your body tense with your heart racing? You may unknowingly be bringing your dog back to that traumatic moment.
Make sure you do not change the daily pattern of the dog. If your dog was not badly injured, then take
your dog back out for a walk the next day. Do not shy away or turn around when you see a dog. Stay calm assertive and your dog will follow suit.
If your dog is seriously hurt, try to get them back to normal as soon as you can. Then, have your dog around other dogs it knows which have balanced energy. You can also put your dog in classes to build self-esteem.
If your dog is not progressing, call a professional dog trainer that works with aggression issues. Not all trainers have the knowledge to work with this behavior. It’s up to us as humans to do the best for our dogs during these type of situations, and keep them a well-balanced afterwards.