Summer's a time when dogs are wandering about, sometimes on leashes, sometimes illegally off-leash. The law says you have to keep your dog under control and on a leash at all times, unless it's in a fenced-in yard. Even for quick potty breaks, you're not allowed to let a dog slip outside untethered.
But dogs can get away from their owners, and stray dogs lurk about unexpectedly.
Here are some tips on what to do if you encounter a dog who appears to be angry at you and approaching to possibly attack you.
When I was a wee lad of about 7 years old, I used to sneak onto the property of a neighbor across Dry Run Creek, up on a hill. I was fascinated with the house, servant's quarters, and barn. Sometimes, when I would creep into the barn, a dachshund would start barking, growling, and chasing me.
I'd run in terror, crying.
That dog would chase me off the property and into my own backyard, followed by me immediately hoping the screen doors weren't locked, rushing into my house for safety. But no matter how that little dog frightened me, I kept going back to that barn, like I was practicing to be a stealth commando.
One day the dog bit me. My dad always told me just to kick the dog or hit it with a stick, but it would catch me off guard and I'd always kick into flight mode, rather than fight mode. The dacshund intimidated me psychologically.
My dad somehow caught the dog, wrestled it into the front seat of our Plymouth, and I got into the back seat. He drove us both to the hospital or vet (I forget which now), to see if the dog had rabies or other diseases that could affect me. I remember Dad steering with one hand and batting at, or holding down, the dog with the other.
At some point, some older person, a wise neighbor or teacher, told me a magic trick that would make it impossible for a dog to bite you. The Dog Bite Avoidance Stance.
I was told to stand firm, stare straight ahead, and put my hands on my chest. "If you stand perfectly still and silent, in this position, the dog will leave you alone and eventually go away. It cannot bite you when you do this," my adviser assured me.
See the positioning of hands on chest, in the photo below.
Dog Bite Avoidance Stance
It has never failed me. That trick always worked. For many years now, I've used it to ward off a dog attack, and I've never been bitten. Some people think waving a big stick, or shouting like a tough guy, or even growling right back at a dog will assert your dominance and courage. Quite the opposite. That kind of behavior tends to anger a vicious dog even more. It rarely impresses them.
If you do have a compulsion to psychologically intimidate a ferocious dog, and he's a big powerful canine, you'd better be licensed to carry a loaded firearm. Only a gun can offer ultimate protection against a large, muscular, furious dog.
Hitting them with a wooden cane, or a heavy iron bar, or a random tree limb, will do very little damage, unless you somehow manage to poke their eyes out, or jam that object into their mouth and keep it from chewing your legs off.
If you foolishly decide to enter into combat with a strong dog, be aware that if it gets you on the ground, you're done. By natural instinct, a dog will go for your throat, your jugular vein, to finish you off. You'll probably die.
On the brighter side, keep these tips in mind, and avoid a fight with a dog.
(1) Never approach a strange dog. Giving your hand for a dog to sniff is stupid people thinking. Dogs typically don't want to sniff your hand, and may consider it a threat, like you're getting ready to slap it. They already have sensed whether you're afraid, or agitated, or posing a threat to their person or territory.
(2) Don't stare into a dog's eyes. Most animals tend to consider eye-lock to be an aggressive attempt to hypnotize them, just prior to striking in a predatory manner.
(3) Don't wave your arms, or other objects like sticks, around. You probably won't spook the dog, but will escalate the confrontation. Holding a large object, showing a potential to strike, but not actually starting to, may be effective in making the dog back down, but don't necessarily count on it.
(4) Assume the Dog Bite Avoidance Stance. You may shout "Fire!" or "Help!" if you think the dog is rabid and crazy enough to ignore your non-threatening position.
(5) Walk away slowly, while facing the dog. Once the Stance has calmed the dog down, if it doesn't back away, wait a while, then slowly inch away. But keep your eyes on the dog. Turning your back, and especially running, may be interpreted by the dog as weakness and fear, and thus provoke an attack.
(6) Don't use pepper spray. Most people will tell you to shoot some pepper spray at a vicious dog, but how many have ever really done it? In many cases, especially with larger, powerful, aggressive dogs, you'll just give them more reason to tear into you. Authorities say pepper spray will give you a minute to reach safety, but how often is safety just a few yards away? Safety means "entering your own car or house or some public shelter".
Keep your children safe. Teach them these simple techniques. Don't encourage your children to think all animals and pets are gentle. A child could surprise a dog, and accidentally get it into an aggression mode. Dogs can easily kill or seriously maim a small child, so drill these instructions into their minds.
Above all, remain calm, confident, and self-assured. Don't speak in a high-pitched or baby-talk manner. Be silent, still, when you do move, move slowly, and remain aware.
Secrets of Survival "How to Survive a Dog Fight" details what to do when you're in a life or death struggle with a ferocious dog.
Really hardcore -- "How to Break Up a Dog Fight Without Getting Hurt". My only problem with this advice is: how do you really grab hold of a dog's hind legs and hang on?