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makemo's avatar

How do you best defend yourself if attacked by a pitbull or presa canaria?

Asked by makemo (531points) September 27th, 2008

Excuse the negative focus in this question.

But since I became a parent, I’ve been occupied trying to find the best approach if being attacked by murderous dogs.

If I’m alone, without my kid, then I guess the best advice, after all, is to try and put your legs on your back and run. But now, more often than not, I’m in a different situation, where I couldn’t just flee.

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29 Answers

Snoopy's avatar

Well, I certainly wouldn’t recommend running. Unless you are certain you could make it behind a closed door or over an extremely high fence before your pursuer. You won’t be able to outrun the dog. Call 911, scream for help and protect vital body parts. Hit the dog where it hurts….nose, eye, groin.
Or if you are in a “conceal/carry” state….well….you fill in the rest….

marinelife's avatar

Actually, it is not good to run or to scream, and never hit the dog on the nose (eyes, yes). Here are some tips (You should go to the site and read the sections on avoiding an attack too.):

“If you are attacked by a really big dangerous dog – one that looks untrained and built to kill, quickly wrap one of your hands in a jacket and then offer it to the dog. When he bites, pull at the arm which will make him tighten the grip. Then fall on top of him and immobilize him. Be ruthless and stick both your fingers into his eyes and release him. Avoid hitting his nose as it will only make him all the more ferocious. Though the method explained here sounds cruel and extreme, it’s often the only way you can protect yourself from dogs like Doberman or Rotwelier, who won’t give you a second chance if you make a mistake.”

If you are made of sterner stuff, then you can try a rather crazy, albeit, a very effective strategy. If you see a dog running towards you, growling and looking absolutely dangerous, then instead of running away from him, run towards the dog, shouting and swinging your arms around, This will make you look fearless and ferocious (crazy, in some people’s opinion!) and will make the dog back away.

If you are attacked by more than one dog, then you are in for some serious trouble. Being attacked by a group of stray dogs is almost as bad as being attacked by wolves. In a pack, a dog becomes all the more ferocious and dangerous so while you would defend yourself against one, the rest of them would encircle you and take you down by attacking from behind. Stand with your back against a wall or a car and grab a stick to try to hold them off till some help arrives.

Snoopy's avatar

@marina Thanks for sharing the link! Although I must admit, I don’t understand why poking a dog in the eye would evoke a less vicious and yet more effective response than the nose….? Maybe someone will be able to explain….?

syz's avatar

Um, why have you developed this phobia? If you don’t put yourself into situations where you may be around aggressive dogs, it’s extremely unlikely that you will have to deal with this issue. In any defense course, the first thing they teach you is to avoid situations that put you at risk. That is the best defense.

Take preventative action, educate yourself on how to deal with the situation should it occur, and don’t fixate! It’s called a self fulfilling prophesy. If you are panicked by the presence of a dog, you’re more likely to incite an attack.

robmandu's avatar

Some good advice I was given for those riding bicycles, motorcycles, etc.:

If you see a (vicious) dog running to intercept you, maintain a straight path on your bike until the last possible second, then veer suddenly away from the dog and he should miss you.

Dogs (like other predators) will instinctively lead their targets and if you travel in a straight line, you’ll be bluffing where your paths will cross. The charging dog won’t typically allow for your last second veering away of where he expects you to be… and he’ll miss.

marinelife's avatar

@makemo I can understand. The first time my sister buckled my little nephews into the back seat of my car, and I started to drive off, I panicked. Suddenly, I was conscious of what might happen. It was terrifying. For some reason, when there is the safety of a little one involved, it makes one hypervigilant.

makemo's avatar

@marina That is precisely the thing. If rewinding the tape of my life, back to before May 1, 2007, I never thought as much of accidents and things like that.

I definitely agree on the remark @syz about avoiding self fulfilling prophecies; but again, I’m not sure what it means, not putting myself into situations where I might be around aggressive dogs – I live in a town. People (oddly) tend to let their dogs run loose, especially in parks and green areas, in the convincement that their dog is oh so nice to everyone.

Question is, what if my son isn’t “oh so nice” with dogs. He might yell and scream at them, run to them and do what he likes to do with our dead passive cats at home, who have come to accept 5 half-nelsons a day.

marinelife's avatar

@makemo You have to get this parent thing in perspective. You have to realize in your gut (not just your head) that:

1. Bad things happen to everyone, and they will happen to your child.

2. It is your job to prepare your child to handle the bad things that happen as best as possible.

3. You cannot protect your child from every danger.

It seems to me that your level of fear around the dog attack is a way to channel your more generalized fears for your child’s safety. I think perhaps that talking to someone about this issue (a short term thing) would be helpful to you.

makemo's avatar

@marina. Yes. That, and the fact that my son hasn’t stopped being very “mommy” (in lack of a better word). I think that might have an effect on me, as the father, to try and seek something that makes me ‘useful’, which (of course) isn’t very useful at all, pre-planning approaches to bad things that hasn’t even happened.

Yet still, he’s too young for me to be able to prepare him to handle bad things that could happen. I try to avoid daily news media as much as possible, but every time that I happen to pass by a turned on tv, they’re talking about kids murdered by dogs and what else.

Anyways. I think your first answer helped me out with my question. Thanks! Only thing I’m unsure about in the article, was this part:

”…When he bites, pull at the arm which will make him tighten the grip. Then fall on top of him and immobilize him…”

A large dog is so strong that I’m wondering how you’d be able to fall on top of him, just like that.

Say you manage to do that, does it mean you should have him under yourself, or should you lay under the dog and close your legs around his belly?

lol. I realize this ‘question’ is starting to look pretty comical, though.

sundayBastard's avatar

You should carry MASE/PEPPER SPRAY. They make a small one that fits on your key chain.

It will stop dogs and people alike.

marinelife's avatar

@makemo They meant that you should on top of the dog. That is the dominant position. Under the dog your vital organs and throat are exposed and vulnerable. Be of good cheer. Daddy becomes vitally important a little while later on.

deaddolly's avatar

I think paranoia is normalwhen you have a child, but you have to be very careful, NOT to pass that onto a child. When their old enough, teach them to respect animals. Take him to a dog training session and let him watch. Teach him how to act if a dog approaches him and vice versa. It’s normal to want to protect your child, but they have to experience life when they get older. Careful not to instill unwarranted fears in them too early.

Question is, what if my son isn’t “oh so nice” with dogs. He might yell and scream at them, run to them and do what he likes to do with our dead passive cats at home, who have come to accept 5 half-nelsons a day.
Why do you let him to that to your cats? As he gets older, he’ll get stronger…what if he throws them down the stairs? Yelling and screaming at any animal will put them on the defense and kis should be taught at an early age that it’s wrong and not funny.

Pit Bulls are only as vicious as the owners that raise them to be that way. Don;t beleive everything you’ve read about them.

marinelife's avatar

deaddolly makes a very good point. A huge part of parenting is teaching children by setting limits. Even small children can be told to be gentle with animals, and they should be.

You have a responsibility to the cats in your care too. The cats should have a room they can go to for respite. You should intervene when your child gets rough with them.

makemo's avatar


I was exaggerating a little bit about the cats. :) We definitely won’t allow him to hurt the cats in any way, and he doesn’t want to either. But he likes to lay on the floor hugging and patting them, though. Sometimes in a manner that, would it be an animal with a larger degree of integrity, it woldn’t work. And if or when the cats don’t want it, they will easily break loose and walk away (our flat is large enough for them to go wherever they can be alone). Looking at our cats, it appears they obviously like being hugged. :-) But, yes, we consequently treat in regards of being too rough, should that occur.

@all. Thanks for your responses, and you’re all right. I’m truly going to have to keep paranoia at bay. Something I think will take it’s time, but I realize you can’t carry that on your shoulders forever!

Lightlyseared's avatar

@deaddolly I’ve seen the results of a pit bull attack on a two year old first hand (believe me, you don’t want specifics) and if I was a parent I’d want them all put down.

deaddolly's avatar

@lightlyseared…Oh, and don’t think I don’t know that there are mean dogs out there (I had to have one of my shepards put down after she bit my then 2 yr old daughter in the face…yes, my daughter was bothering her when she was eating. That dog always had ‘problems’...very agressive, possibly inbred). My point is that, pits get a bad rap. IT’S THE STUPID ASS OWNERS. I work in the ‘inner city’ and I see pits with large padlocks around their necks being walked on heavy chains. no one is fooled, these dogs are being raised for fighting and most can’t be saved/trusted after a life like that. I would never want to walk past one. BUT IT’S THE OWNERS WHO RUIN THE DOG.

I just don’t want anyone to perpetuate paranoia. When my daughter was little, I was positive my nanny was going to steal her. The nannie’s daughter just had had a miscarriage. I was sure they wanted my child. I had to let it go, after calling all the time and coming home at odd times…I had to rationalize my fears. It did not make it any easier at the time.
Being a mom is rough…i was a single mom from the get go. I choose to have my daughter alone via artificial insemenation. I was as paranoid as you could get those first few years!

@makemo Good! glad the cats have a place to go. Getting the point accross to your little one that all cats don’t play like that isn’t easy. But, once they learn to respect an animal; it’s a lesson learned for life.

Snoopy's avatar

@deaddolly I agree w/ you that it is the owners that make a particular pit bull behave badly. However, I think it should be noted that certain breeds of dogs are more likely to be agressive….the pit bull being one of those breeds.

deaddolly's avatar

Not really. I know several friends that have pits, rots, etc. They are sweet, loving dogs. They are very protective dogs and need to be treated with love and respect. dogs bite ppl everyday; the ones that get the hype all the time are the pits. awhile back it was Doberman’s.

btw, I would never keep a dog that bit me…I don’t mean in a playful way; i mean bit me, bit me. I attribute that to an over zealous breeder. Pits have powerful jaws, which make their bites more severe.

I guess it boils down to owners/breeders.

Snoopy's avatar

I guess this is agree to disagree, dd.

Like any feature of an animal (size, color, headsize, etc), aggression is something that varies between breeds. It isn’t black and white. I would never say that all cocker spaniels are mild mannered or that all dobermans are aggressive.

It is just a trend that is typical of particular breeds.

I would have posted links, but I note from another thread that this isn’t your preferred method of info sharing ;)

deaddolly's avatar

@snoopy ok, i agree to disagree! All dogs can be made agressive. Personally, I think Chihuahua’s are little monsters due to the fact all the ones I’ve met have been little snappers. It’s all a matter of personal experience.
I just get upset when all pit’s are lumped into one category. When I was looking for home insurance, many years back, if I had had a pit/rot etc, my rates would have gone up. WTF? I blamed that on mass hysteria at the time.

Snoopy's avatar

@dd-I had the same experience w/ my home owners insurance. They casually asked if we had dogs. I picked up on where the questions were going soon after I mentioned that we had a shepherd. I quickly back peddled to say that she was really a mutt…

My neighbor’s have a minature pincher that is extremely agressive. So I agree w/ you it isn’t just about size. I guess dogs have Napolean syndrome too! :)

deaddolly's avatar

@snoopy….yes, my 25 lb cairn terrier thinks she’s a great dane and will take down any dog that gets in her way. lol She rules the roost and I have a shepherd as well. btw, shepherds get bad raps too.

Nimis's avatar

Let your crazy sister move in with you.
Let her dress your kids in multiple layers of sweaters and scarves
even though you live by the beach in San Diego.

Worked for me. My crazy aunt totally saved my life.
Was walking home from school when I was eight.
I had walked by that pitbull every single day without incident.
But that day, without any warning, he jumped the fence.
He wasn’t fucking around either. He went straight for my throat.
Even though I had a pitbull hanging from my throat,
I was so bundled up that I didn’t feel a thing.
Bundled up is probably a gross understatement.

SpTaAiYd's avatar

Once it gets a hold of you it wont let go. Try to tuck it close to your body and drop on top of it as you get it in a head lock. Maybe you could choke it unconscious. Or maybe you could gouge it’s eyes out. At least then it couldn’t see you.

fkingfbulous's avatar

I think you all miss the point. The question was what should you do if you are attacked by a pitbull? I have noticed an increase in these animals in my nborhood. This is a very dog friendly area. I do not trust them (pits) and no one can tell me differently. They have the name, dangerous killer for a reason. I have had or seen first hand from pups to killers, what they can do, breed to fight or not. They WILL attack for no reason even the TAME ones.In my search for an answer I found thousands of stories of ppl that thought “not my gentle pit, he’s a family member”. Then you here how the family member has attack and maimed others for no reason. Let’s see what you do when you are minding your business, walking with your child and beloved pets and one comes across your path. The problem with this is that they are not charging you (pits)to attack and bite you. They are in attack and kill mode. A Cop once told me to carry a sharp fold-able hunting knife and go for the underside or the side of it. That’s how you handle a KILLER. Pepper spray doesn’t work on them. My coworker was attack walking his dog and he had a billy club. After striking it several time he said that it had no effect on it. He was close enough to a fenced yard to pull his dog away from it. $1500 in vet bills but they both lived. I now keep a large hunting knife with me at all time.

Seattle00's avatar

I’m always amazed that people are more scared of dogs…than people. If you are worrying about what the 90lb Rot/Pit/X is gonna do to you are your kid…then you should be equally and more realistically… HUGELY important. good luck and happy hunting… ;)

Seattle00's avatar

some how a part of my statement was cut out….. be more scared of the 200 lb man. A reactionary dog is no where near as dangerous as a methodical MAN. Be more wary of MEN than you are of DOGS. Love you all….good luck.

RunningBeef's avatar

I was wondering the same thing as its best to be prepared if an attack occurs. I too, only find myself thinking this since I’ve become a parent and I have neighbours with Rottweilers they cannot control who try to lunge at me and my baby. I’ve put in a complaint with Animal Services but in the meantime I’ve had to cross paths with those dogs and you feel very vulnerable with an infant.

RunningBeef's avatar

The difference between a small dog attacking you is that you put a band aid on the cut…the result of a large dog attack is more severe or possibly fatal.

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