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Should you try to stop a dog attack?

Should you try to stop a dog attack?

How two attacks changed how I react

I want to share a personal and somewhat scary story with you.

I simply stepped outside my front door with my dog Shilo and my day was turned upside down.

Another dog was loose outside and attacked.

It happened very quickly, yet it seemed like it was in slow motion. The other dog lunged at Shilo, jumped, and all of a sudden they were a twisted tangle of bodies, jaws at the neck and attached to each other. Why did he attack Shilo? The most simple answer is because he could and not all dogs get along. I had Shilo on a leash, his guardian was not in control and didn’t even have a leash with her at the time. 

Anyone who has witnessed a dog fight or tried to get in between one can tell you it’s scary. As your dog’s guardian you desperately want to break it up, but putting your hands anywhere near their heads is likely to lead to one of the dogs (including your own) biting your hand or arm in the process. 

Holding on to your dog from the back seems like the safest choice, but even this can have consequences. Your dog might turn around and bite you if they feel constricted and you could damage your dog’s hips, legs or back due to the strain. 

Eventually, the woman that was responsible for the other dog (and I used the term responsible very loosely) managed to make her way to the dogs and we separated them.

What do you do next?

Examine your dog. Any sign of pain may be a good indication of injury, including soft tissue damage, which might show up as a bruise on a human. The problem with dogs is that they have so much fur it’s easy to assume they are ok if they are not bleeding or limping. 

Some dogs are also very stoic and will mask pain to not appear weak. I found a puncture wound on Shilo a few days later. We went for a second visit to the vet to check out to see if it was infected or not. Be diligent, wounds may not be immediately visible. 

Take detailed notes of the incident. Date, time, location and exactly what happened. If you are not familiar with the person and dog, you should exchange information. 

Who do you talk to? 

Reach out to friends, family and coworkers and get advice, as you might not be thinking straight. I sometimes wonder if these incidents are more traumatic for the dog or the human. Speaking to the guardian of the other dog is also helpful, ideally after you’ve calmed down if they are local or familiar to you. 

How do you report the incident? 

Depending on where you live, this may not be applicable, but in my case, I reported it to the Strata Management Company of the condo complex and was advised to contact bylaw rather than the police based on the laws of the municipality where I live. 

Is it worth reporting? 

Some people don’t like to make a fuss, but in this case I had already not reported an attack earlier this year when the same dog attacked my other dog Diesel, also within just meters of my front door and was off leash and unsupervised. 

If I had reported the first incident, maybe the second one wouldn’t have happened. 

Should you take your dog to the vet for a check up? 

Shilo showed signs of being hurt, such as growling when I touched her neck, so I took her to the clinic the next morning for peace of mind. Talking to vet clinic staff is helpful because they have dealt with this before and can talk you through it. 

Another veterinarian that provides chiropractic and acupuncture treatment helped to check her alignment and mobility. 

Some natural remedies that can help:

Aconite (Aconitum Napellus 1M) - This remedy is used for shock and trauma and can help restore a state of calm. It can be used for dogs and people. 

Arnica 1M - This can be used every few hours for the first day, for any bruising or swelling  Use twice a day for a few days.

Herbal Skin Spray - This spray is made of herbs that promote the growth of healthy cells, decreases inflammation and scarring and has an antibacterial effect. Ideal for scratches, cuts and puncture wounds. 

Dog attacks can cause mental and emotional damage that can manifest as fear-based aggression. 

Many encounters can be avoided by dog guardians being responsible for their dog. 

Be mindful of other dogs. They may have had a traumatic experience and they may be reactive, so respect their space even if your dog is super friendly. 

The healing cycle, a natural diet and essential supplements, which act as preventative medicine, help care for your dog. Using a forgiving leash, like the Gentle leash, and a will protect your dog's neck and spine when they yank and pull and is easier on your shoulder too. Hand-in-hand, being a responsible dog guardian helps prevent negative encounters and can keep your dog, other dogs, yourself and those around you safe.

© Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM
About the author

Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM is an Integrative veterinarian, nutritionist and creator of natural supplements for dogs and people. Helping you and your dog prevent disease, treat nutritional deficiencies, and enjoy happier, healthier, and longer lives together.

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