Biting Dogs

Standing still, side on, with arms crossed and no eye contact doesn't work

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03/08/2012 at 12:16

OK - so I accept that this might just have been the case of no matter what I'd done I'd have been bitten but does anyone have any other sensible advice that I could try if there's a next time?

Scenario - I was bitten twice by a dog on Wednesday whilst running along the right of way that passed by its house.  I heard it bark and saw it coming out of  the corner of my eye.  There was no fence/gate to stop its arrival so I slowed to a walk and as it got closer stopped altogether and adopted the "don't bother with me I'm really uninteresting" pose which I understand is the right thing to do from previous threads and articles. And that's when it nipped me on the calf - twice! Its owner must have heard all the barking (no growling interestingly) and came out of the house - slowly, he was an elderly chap.

I did my best puppy yelp when it bit me the first time as taught by my puppy training lady when we were teaching our own dog not to nip us when mouthing us (involuntraily I might add - it hurt!) but that's when I was rewarded by a second nip:

By the time the owner had gotten to me the dog had gotten bored - I'm not sure what  it was - some type of airedale/lakeland terriery thing.

The police have been informed and the dog is to be restrained from now on.  The owner was suitably apologetic and providing the dog is kept tied up during daylight hours I'm happy not to take the matter further.  Aside from the inconvenience of waiting at the local minor injuries unit for a tetanus and antibiotics - there's no real harm done this time.

Any advice would be brilliant and much appreciated - sorry to those who are fed up of dog threads - I've tried to distill advice from them which resulted in the title description response but I obviously got it wrong somehow!



03/08/2012 at 12:25

Ouch, those look painful!

I have never owned a dog, so any advice I come up with won't be worth the keyboard it's typed on but I wonder if any dog owners would agree that if the "stop and be boring" ruse doesn't work then stating a loud, firm command such as "down!" or "sit!" might work with a dog who's usually well-behaved?

I suspect that in some cases, nothing will help and the only thing to do is as you did and ensure it's reported so the dog is not loose again.

03/08/2012 at 12:27

Fight back.

03/08/2012 at 12:33

I was bitten last year by a terrier, despite doing all the supposedly correct things, and like you spent time at an A&E and then had to take antibiotics for a week.  I think that when dogs are aggressive you need to defend yourself and especially if the owner is not there or is unable/unwilling to control the animal. Hope everything heals up well for you.

03/08/2012 at 12:36

Ouch. That looks painful. I think it depends on the stance of the dog that sorts out my reaction to it. 95% of the time I'll do what you did - but some other suggestions i've been given:

- Put yourself in a "tree" stance. Big body, hands by your side etc.

- Growl at the dog/make noise. I have a rottweiler on my route and half the time the owners have left the gate open (it's farmland) and he comes bounding out ready to attack. The only time he has not tried to attack me is when i've growled at him and shouted in a firm voice "GO AWAY". This is meant show you as pack leader.

- Interrmanaut is right if you don't mind the pain. I used to have German Shepherds and one trick we were taught was that if they try to get your arm - push it further into their mouth to initiate the gag reflex. They'll soon stop.

- Also: if they're small enough - grab the scruff of their neck and drag them off. I've done this with a jack russell who attacked my ankles.

I'd recommend some Arnica on the bites - i've had a few in my life and this has always worked a treat at reducing the swelling.

03/08/2012 at 12:42

They're not too bad now thanks Carpathius - surprisingly it didn't hurt as much as I thought being bitten by a dog would do but I could have had some adrenaline in my system by then to numb me a bit.  Interesting point - I've often wondered if that would work or to what extent a dog recognises its owner's dominance?

For example, our dog is very sweet natured but has a mischievous streak.  She obeys me 99% of the time and certainly when my tone of voice conveys that I definitely mean my command but she sometimes will just look at my OH as if he must be loopy if he thinks she's taking any notice of what he wants.  I went to all the training classes and she is effectively my dog so I guess I'm the alpha of her world.

Definitely worth a try tho - thanks!

Intermanaut - interestingly - the antibiotics/vaccine I got will apparently also combat infection from a human bite - wonder if the vet would have to give the dog the same ones.  (I guess they see all-sorts in medical units - but I wonder what it was that made both the doctor and nurse point out that small detail to me - maybe I look like the type that vampires would go for - in which case whatever I do - I'm doomed to be bitten).

03/08/2012 at 12:53

Thanks JF50. They look worse than they feel now. I keep telling myself that it's the first time in 20 years of running and cycling that I've been bitten so the probability of it happening again is very very low.

Hi Emmy *waves* - oooh well reminded - we have some arnica somewhere - I'd forgotten about that! I'm not sure I'd want my hands by my sides - wouldn't they just seem like something else they could grab? Sounds like you're much braver than me - I'm already reluctant to go back on the same route though OH has offered to run past first just to make sure it has actually been restrained.  Ran nearby yesterday though as I'm determined not to let it put me off going off road.  I shall start practising my growl... best not do it while Rascal's about though - poor mite'd be very confused!  Thank you

03/08/2012 at 13:03

@Sleepy - 1 of our dogs was ex-army so he needed to be trained and I needed to not be scared of him. I've done a lot of training with them so i'm generally pretty decent and not scared of any dog but in the area I live - they seem to let their dogs loose a lot of the time.

The first time a dog bit me; I was so petrified but the minute i fought back and told him who was boss - they ran away. I used to run around Virginia Water Lake in Surrey and they had the 'range rover mums' who used to jog around the lake, let the dog off and just wait for the dog to catch up. I was attacked 5 times in 8 weeks around the lake whilst i was running... the wardens were used to it.

At least you're now protected if a vampire/zombie comes out of the bushes

03/08/2012 at 15:19

I am lucky in that i always go running with my dog so any other dog that looks threatening he growls at!

didnt stop a really really over enthusiastic friendly dog knocking me over though, but at least all it did was lick my face when i was down!

03/08/2012 at 15:38

You are far more forgiving than I am. I would have demanded that the dog be put down. It may not have happened, but it would have perhaps given the owner enough of a fright to keep it under control in future.

Edited: 03/08/2012 at 15:40
03/08/2012 at 15:39

Emmy - think you should rename them as '"down rover" mums' LOL - I'll keep an eye out for the flesh eating undead tho

MM - Yeah I've had plenty of that - I don't mind dogs coming over to say hello in the slightest as long as they're trained to be polite.  Our little thing can't/won't keep up so she tends to stay at home if I'm training - she does enjoy coming out for a jog/sniff when I don't have any set objectives though. She has a touch of small dog syndrome but only if another dog is "rude" to her - she got knocked over and pinned to the floor once in puppy class and she doesn't tolerate the merest hint of that happening again!  Glad it didn't hurt you - I'm not overly fond of excessive dog OR human slobber

03/08/2012 at 16:27

Glad your ok and wishing you a speedy recovery, i'm with Muttley though I would have wanted the dog (any dog that bit unprovoked put down) although i'm sure the owner will be more creful in future and thankful to you as well.

03/08/2012 at 16:45
Ouch SB!! Get well soon!
03/08/2012 at 16:59

Bad luck there I reckon. Your actions do you credit

Though, interesting that it was a Lakeland terrier type dog. Some elderly relatives many years ago got one - I was reading a book on small dogs at the time and this breed was the only one "not suitable for the elderly"! He was a real handful and would leap up on my lap and try to bite my earrings off. The only way they managed to cope with the poor bugger was to feed him until he was simply too fat to do very much.


03/08/2012 at 17:20

Muttley - my initial reaction was similar but we're talking of an elderly gentleman living in the middle of nowhere - I know it's no excuse for the dog's behaviour but I wouldn't want him left on his own out there.  As long as he's aware of what it may do I think he seemed genuine enough that he wouldn't let it happen again!  There are no reports of previous incidents but the local police now have this incident logged and if it happens again - I won't hesitate to agree to let them use my evidence too in the case for putting it to sleep.  My OH is planning to go for a run along there sometime next week to check all is as it should be. At least he knows the risk he's taking - I'd hate someone unsuspecting to wander along.

Thanks Jwheezy, RRR - the bites are luckily more scrapes than deep punctures so as long as it hadn't been eating anything nasty and I haven't picked up an infection I'll be fine - it seems to be scabbing ok.  Evil OH has made me promise I won't pick the scabs off - where's the fun in that I ask you!

Do you know Fido - my OH's aunt has something similar and it's the most docile thing ever - the only other one I've ever came across was a teenage one at training classes which was an incredibly stubborn monkey.  I guess it's like any other breed - it can go either way.  At least I'd stand a chance of outrunning an overfed one - not that I wish to find out!

What does everyone else think - the path in question is a promoted local circular route (with a leaflet and its own way marking system)  - should I ring the local council too and let their recreation officer know or just let it be?


03/08/2012 at 17:58

@Sleepy - if there's no other reported incidents - i'd be likely to let it drop. The police are aware of it so if the council need to get it reviewed - they'll know in future.

03/08/2012 at 18:35

Yip - that seems fair!

03/08/2012 at 22:18
You did everything exactly as you should have, which makes me quite dismayed that you had to take such abuse.

When dogs have acted threateningly to me in the past (and I'll make it clear that I like dogs and usually enjoy meeting them on my runs), I have made myself as large as possible and yelled at them as loudly and aggressively as I could. This has worked on two occassions; once with two quite large dogs. The look on their faces was priceless - they certainly don't expect it from humans and went off with their tails between their legs.

I'd be more likely to do what you did now ... At first.
04/08/2012 at 08:11

Radicchio - I think it may have just been a one off  no-matter-what-I-did type scenario - that dog was in the mood to nip and that was that. I'm just grateful it didn't rip anything flesh wise!

Making noise seems to be the way forward even if some sources seem to imply that this could antagonise the dog in some cases.  I reckon it's just a try it and see.  If it doesn't work try something else. And keep everything crossed... It's remembering it all when everything is happening so fast that's the skill!

Have a safe weekend all...


04/08/2012 at 13:46

I don't really think there's a one-size-fits-all solution to dealing with dogs. Depends if you're on your territory, their territory, neutral territory, what breed/size it is, whether you've got your own dog with you or not, whether you've got steel toecaps or sandals on etc etc.

Also depends on whether or not you know enough about doggy body language to tell overexcited/boisterous from nervous/aggressive from plain old mean, untrained and used to getting its own way. Also depends on whether or not you're giving off waves of fear.

If you're confident with dogs and a nervous/aggressive dog confronts you on neutral territory, chances are you could face up to it firmly and shout NO and it would run off suitably chastened. But if you're actually scared of dogs and just bluffing confidence with a bossy dog on or near its own territory, you will likely end up being badly bitten.

Sometimes just staring at a dog is enough to make it think again. If a dog is eyeballing you, don't look away. Most dogs take that as a sign of submission. Though that advice doesn't really apply to a small furry cannonball launching itself at your ankles at a hundred miles an hour.

Some dogs are a real nightmare. Almost always the owners fault not the dog.

Edited: 04/08/2012 at 13:50
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