Dog owners and dog lovers are not immune to being bitten — or full-on attacked — by dogs. Dogster’s John D. Williams described his scary encounter with several hostile canines in “Ever Been Attacked by a Dog? I Was, and I’ll Never Forget It.” Williams, our Watch Dog, asked you, Dogster readers, whether you’ve had similar trouble, and the response was overwhelming. At last count, there were 167 comments on the story.
A reader called scarred pointed out the difference between a bite and an attack.
“There is a HUGE difference between being bitten by a dog and being attacked,” scarred writes. “An attack is a slow process that lasts more than the initial bite. Being attacked is being bitten, repeatedly, and continuously, [and] trying to get away and being unable to because the dog is hunting you down.”
Scarred then related a terrifying encounter: “I was attacked by a Pit Bull in an elevator, and so was my dog and a friend’s dog. I will never ever forget it. The sounds of my dog crying in pain is a sound I will never get over. Nothing would stop this animal from attacking, short of me beating it. It’s absolutely the most horrifying thing I have ever lived through. My dog survived, and I am extremely lucky. My friend’s dog did not. This has scarred me for life.”
A reader called thegreatspag was among several who pointed out that if you work with dogs, eventually you will be bitten or attacked. “I’ve worked as a groomer, a dog trainer, a dog walker, and a dog daycare attendant, and each posed its own unique challenge. But all those jobs involve putting dogs that are not yours and that you may not know very well into stressful situations that the dog may not enjoy.”
This reader’s attack was by a yellow Labrador Retriever while working at dog daycare, and “It was a pretty brutal attack, I ended up needing 25 stitches. I’m not entirely sure what provoked the attack considering he had been such a sweet and docile dog up until that day. He was about 7. We think something went medically wrong in his head because this was completely out of left field. I didn’t really have any time to react to the attack since he came up behind me. I have a vague recollection of yelling at the dog and trying to kick him off of me since he had ahold of my leg.”
This reader also acknowledged the need for an animal worker to get over such incidents: “I couldn’t let the incident bother me. I couldn’t be shy about breaking up fights between dogs because I was afraid of getting bitten again.”
Some readers reported bites or attacks happening when they were very young children — and sometimes it was because they didn’t know any better.
“If a dog has just had porcupine quills extracted from its nose,” writes Naeva, “DO NOT try to ‘kiss make better.”
The result was having to be a flower girl in her uncle’s wedding with “giant red welts” on either side of her face “where the dog expressed its displeasure.”
“It was a large dog relative to me (an Australian Shepherd) and if it had really wanted to, it could have taken off my nose and half my face with it,” she writes. “It was a warning nip. I do still have a moment when I see a mouthful of doggy teeth headed my way, but … I still love dogs. Can’t live without ’em!”
Darrell Arellano reports being attacked by a Golden Retriever when he was about 11.
“I always walked to the store and bought something for my parents every day. And I always passed the dog. He was always behind a fence. … But that day, he was actually OUT of the fence. Well, he barked and growled at me. … I didn’t know much about dogs. I thought he was playing with me. But then … he charged at me. He went for my left leg. I ran. But it bit me. I was lying there on the street with a pain in my left leg. I threw my shoe at it. But it didn’t work. Then I stood up and tried to bear my pain. I screamed at it and stomped my feet. It backed away and he left me alone.”
A month later, the owner told Arellano the dog had been trained and was more friendly, so he went back. “He was licking me and playing with me. From then on, we became friends and I visited him every other day. I missed him when we moved. I gave him a toy. And the owner actually called my parents and said that the dog cried at night because I wasn’t there. And he said that he keeps that toy … safe, and he sleeps with it every night. He said that the dog has dreams about me, because he was whimpering while he was asleep.”
One commenter described a story without a happy ending — one that resulted in the death of a child.
“I’ve never really been a “fan” of Cocker Spaniels,” writes Dxndmom, “and my friend’s Cocker ‘just snapped’ … one day and attacked her 2-year-old son. Everyone was on the couch quietly watching TV, the dog lunged from the other end of the couch and took the little boy’s face off! Up until then Barney had been great! The family went to the ER, a relative took Barney to the vet and he was put down. It was later found out he had a mass, and it would’ve taken him pretty quickly.”
Another commenter replies, “I’m so sorry you had to go through that, but glad you still love dogs!”
Readers disagreed over how you should deal with dogs when they are attacking.
“I’ve had dogs aggressively approach me, and every time I turn and step toward them and in a loud deep voice yell ‘No!’” writes kmh. “They’ve always turned around and left me alone. Dogs aren’t used to their prey turning on them. Prey runs away. I did step towards them, but I don’t look them in the eyes as that’d be aggressive.”
Esmedoodles reports being “threatened many, MANY times while out jogging with my dog. Used to carry pepper spray when we lived out in the country. Had to use it on four different loose Rottweilers (thank GOD that stuff works fast). Now we live in town but there are still loose dogs, or dogs that break free of the leash. Years of experience and outright anger has taught me to face the dog and let loose with a blood curdling scream/yell, and if the dog backs down, I run after it, still yelling and screaming. That usually catches them off guard and I think they sense the fury and violence coming from within. I even did this on a Rottweiler … it stopped dead and had a very confused look on its face. I don’t think I’m worried for myself but I’ll fight tooth and nail to protect my Lab. The only time this didn’t work was on a rotten, nasty little Yorkie with a sappy sweet owner trying to call it back with baby talk. And by the way, those little ankle biters are almost impossible to kick.”
Commenter runner51 takes things further: “I am a runner and run with and without my dog. I always stop, hold my ground, and yell at the dog as soon as possible. If time, I pick up a handful of stones and will pelt the incoming dog as needed. This method has even worked when a pack of dogs came racing down a driveway after my friend and me. I have never been bitten, and in fact, never had a dog brave enough to come within three feet of me. I am 5’4” and weigh 115 pounds, so it is possible to make yourself bigger and badder than dogs.”
The reply from dog loving kid is, “I understand if you’re trying to protect someone, but what if one of the rocks severely injures a dog? You don’t have to use violence. Many people have used just a harsh tone or even friendliness and didn’t get attacked.”
Zamkat was having none of that. “The odds of a handful of rocks permanently injuring a dog are pretty slim. Even if you were to somehow hit him in the eye, he would likely blink, protecting from anything serious. It would have to be a pretty big rock, thrown at quite a velocity, and hit the animal in just the right way, to potentially break a bone or cause permanent vision loss.
“It’s not the best situation to have to deal with, but sometimes it’s either you or the dog, and you can’t fault someone for protecting themselves with whatever means available, even though it’s hardly ever the dog’s fault that he hasn’t been properly socialized. Don’t forget, dogs have powerful jaws filled with sharp teeth, and in the face of that, I think rocks are an appropriate weapon. On top of that, one may not always have time to try non-violent methods before the dog will be upon them. Ultimately, are you going to gamble life and limb, or attempt to protect yourself by reacting quickly?”