K9 Survival Guide: How to Defend Against A Dog Attack

You never know when a dog may attack you out of nowhere. 

It could happen while you’re out running around the neighborhood, hiking down your favorite trail, or while doing any other random activity outside. You never know.

If a canine feels threatened by your presence or happens to confuse you as prey, then it could attack you at any time.

So how do you defend yourself against a dog attack?

Your best bet is to avoid the dog at all costs if possible. Otherwise, you’re going to have to either fight off the dog or figure out how to distract it long enough for you to escape. 

Let’s start off with how to avoid a dog attack.

How to Avoid a Dog Attack

The first step you should take after encountering a hostile dog – or pack of dogs – is to try to avoid the dog(s) at all costs. 

Sometimes it may be possible to avoid a dog attack, and sometimes it may not.

But you should always do everything in your power to avoid a dog attack if at all possible. Because if you do have to defend yourself against a big dog such as a rottweiler or a pit bull, there’s a good chance you aren’t going to win that fight. 

Follow these 10 steps below if you want the best chance of avoiding a dog attack. 

  1. Do Not Panic. While dogs may not necessarily be able to sense fear, they can sense when something is wrong through other means such as body language, tone of voice, etc. So stay calm at all times and try not to panic!
  2. If a dog is on a leash nearby then make sure to keep enough distance away from the other dog in case it tries to attack unexpectedly. 
  3. Never approach another dog unless given permission from the owner. You never know what that dog is capable of or if it’s raised properly. 
  4. Always be careful around dogs that are either sleeping, eating or nursing their puppies. Be extra careful around dogs that are eating if you have your own dog with you as some canines can be extremely defensive about their food.
  5. Always be on the lookout for signs that another dog may attack. Obvious signs include barking, growling, snarling and raised fur on their back. Be warned though, a wagging tail doesn’t always mean they’re friendly. Pitbulls will shake you like a ragdoll while wagging its tail the whole time. 
  6. Never stare a dog in its eyes. Some dogs will take this as a sign of aggression. 
  7. Rotate your body sideways to appear smaller and less intimidating. 
  8. Do not run away. The dog may instinctively assume that you’re its prey and attempt to chase you.
  9. Try to keep something between you and the dog (tree, vehicle, etc.) to slow them down.
  10. If you were moving quickly when the dog started to chase you then try stopping and standing perfectly still. Just make sure to avoid eye contact and keep your hands in a fist to avoid finger bites and hopefully the dog will leave you alone. 
  11. Never smile at a hostile dog. Showing bared teeth may signify aggression. 
  12. Do not yell or use a dog whistle. It may rile up the dog and cause it to attack. 
  13. Set up a distraction. Throw something heavy that will make a loud noise to get their attention away from you.

Being able to avoid a dog attack may not always be possible, but if you can avoid the battle with man’s best friend then it’s certainly the best option to take. 

How To Defend Against a Dog Attack

While a dog attack may be avoidable nine times out of ten, sometimes you’re going to be left with no other option but to defend or protect yourself. 

And when faced with the reality of a dog attack, you’re going to have to act fast if you want to survive the encounter without too many stitches. 

Here below are the most helpful tips I could find while researching how to defend myself against a dog attack.

  • Always protect the most sensitive areas on your body such as your face, neck and chest.
  • Use your weight to keep the dog pinned down. Then place pressure on the dog’s neck with your forearm until they lose consciousness. 
  • Find something heavy nearby to use as a weapon.
  • Wrap something (such as a sweater) around your non-dominant arm and attempt to get the dog to bite it. Once latched on, use your free hand to gouge the dogs eyes out. Do this only as a last resort. 

Sometimes the best defense against a dog attack is to simply protect yourself. The best way to do this is to act calm and lay face down, pull your knees up to your chest, clasp your hands behind your neck and hide your face as best as you can behind your elbows.                                                                  

Best Weapons to Defend Against a Dog Attack

There are two types of weapons you can use to defend yourself against a dog attack — lethal and non-lethal

The best lethal weapons to use against a dog attack would be a firearm and a knife. Both of these weapons can be quite useful when facing off against a hostile dog, but you could also easily miss or even hurt yourself if you’re not lucky.  

The best non-lethal weapons to use against an attacking dog are pepper spray, stun batons, and baseball bats (could be lethal). 

There’s a specific type of pepper spray made just for dogs that contains 1. 0% Major Capsaicinoids – the maximum strength allowed by the EPA to be used against dogs. To give an example of how strong that is, bear spray (pepper spray for bears) contains s are2.0% Major Capsaicinoids.

Stun batons are another great weapon to use for self-defense against dogs since they pack a punch powerful enough to temporarily subdue a dog without injuring them. Just turning the stun baton on and setting it off in the air is intimidating enough to scare some dogs away just by itself. And if the bright light paired with the loud “BZZZZ” noise doesn’t stop them, the jolt of 1,000,000+ volts of electricity certainly will!

How to Protect Your Child From a Dog Attack

Unfortunately, most dog attacks happen to children under 10 years of age. 


Young children simply lack the self-awareness to realize when they’re enticing a dog to attack. A lot of children and toddlers also aren’t taught how to properly act around dogs, so they’re prone to accidentally provoke the dog to attack without meaning to. 

This is why it’s so important to teach your children how to properly act around dogs. While it’s true that most dogs just want to get their belly rubbed and maybe a treat if you have one, some dogs will see you and instantly want to attack for no reason whatsoever. 

Here are some useful tips that you should know and that you should teach to your kids to help protect them from a dog attack. 

  • Never try to ride a dog
  • Never wake up a sleeping dog
  • Never interfere with a dog that’s eating
  • Never approach a dog you do not know

Because some dogs are hostile for no reason, always make sure to place yourself between a dog and your child to ensure the dog bites you instead of your kid(s). And NEVER leave a baby or toddler alone with a dog without supervision. Even if you know the dog and it’s always been friendly it still isn’t worth the risk.

How to Protect Your Dog From Another Dog

If you’re anything like me, then I imagine you’ll do anything to protect your dog from getting hurt. 

But how do you protect your dog from getting hurt by another dog?

Before I tell you what to do, I’m first going to tell you what NOT to do. 

The main thing you don’t want to do when another dog is coming towards you and your animal best friend is to panic. If you begin to panic and start yelling frantically then the other dog may see this as a sign of aggression. 

Related Post: Best Dogs for Homesteading and Off-Grid Living

Instead, simply speak in a tone of voice that is both loud and authoritative. And if you can’t stop the dog from attacking with just your voice, then you’re going to have to use other means to stop the attack. 

One of the best methods you can use to stop a dog attack is to catch the dog off-guard by lifting its hind legs in the air as high as you can. By grabbing a dog’s hind legs and lifting them in the air you will both confuse the dog and hopefully make it forget to continue attacking altogether.

Just make sure to watch out for the dog lunging at you while you’re dangling their body in the air.

What to Do After a Dog Bites Someone

Not only do you need to know how to defend yourself or someone else against a dog attack, but you also need to have a plan of what to do after someone is bitten.

The first step you need to take after someone is bitten by a dog is to ask yourself these three questions.

  1. Did the dog bite an adult, child or animal?
  2. Does anyone need stitches?
  3. Is there a lot of blood loss?

Knowing the answer to these 3 questions will help you decide what to do next. If someone needs stitches or there is a lot of blood loss then you need to go to the hospital or the veterinary right away. 

Even if the injury isn’t serious you still may want to go to the hospital or vet if you’re not sure if the attacking dog has been vaccinated for rabies or not. Now if you know the owner of the dog then all you have to do is ask, but if you don’t know the owner then you’re basically out of luck and have to go to the hospital or vet no matter what. Even if the bite is extremely minor you still have to go and check for the possibility of rabies.

Below are 12 steps you can take after a dog bites another dog. Now if a human is bitten then just skip the few steps meant for dogs and go to the hospital instead of the veterinary.

  1. If your dog is stressed out try to keep them calm to prevent further injury. 
  2. Check for wounds and see if there is any bleeding.
  3. Apply pressure with any type of fabric (washcloth, towel, etc.) until the bleeding stops. Estimated time of 5 minutes. 
  4. Wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water.
  5. Stitch up the wounds. Simply skip this step and take your dog to the vet unless you have the knowledge and tools necessary to apply stitches.
  6. Place antibiotic ointment on the wound and use a sterile bandage to prevent bacterial infection.
  7. Continue cleaning the wound several times a day with fragrance-free soap and water.
  8. Keep your dog from licking or scratching at their wound. Might have to use the “cone of shame”.
  9. If your dog is hurt from being bitten you can help ease the pain by soaking a washcloth with cold water, ringing it out, and then placing the cloth over the wound and applying an ice pack on top.
  10. Ask the owner if the dog has their rabies vaccination.
  11. Consider hiring an attorney if your dog is seriously injured by another dog.
  12. If the attack takes place on someone else’s property then their homeowners insurance may cover some (if not all) of the medical costs.

Now that you know what you need to do before, after, and during a dog attack, you should find yourself better equipped if you’re ever in the midst of a scuffle with man’s best friend.

Hopefully, you’ll never have to use this newfound knowledge that’s been bestowed upon you, but at least you’ll be better prepared if there’s ever a ferocious dog charging your way.