Tips on How to Survive a Dog Attack

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How to Survive A Pack Of Dogs Attacking

Against a pack of dogs you’ve got your work cut out for you. In some communities following a catastrophic disaster, after several weeks dogs may begin to band together and form packs. As food becomes scarce and days go by without eating, tempers can increase and pack mentality can make these dogs a lot more dangerous than they were before the disaster.

If you’re attacked by a pack of dogs, even as few as three dogs, you’re going to have a hard time making it out of this attack without injury. With just a knife you might stab the first dog, but not before the other two sink their teeth into you and begin biting and tearing.

As unlikely a scenario as this may seem for people, in a time of collapse it would be smart to travel with multiple people, each armed with a weapon for self-defense. There will be packs of dogs in several areas and you may come across a pack of dogs more than once.

How To Survive A Wolf Attack

What to do if you see a wolf?

What to do if you see a wolf?

Excellent question.

This guide is a good resource for how to survive a wolf attack.

Dog Breeds that May Behave Aggressively

Although there are certain breeds of dogs that have a higher probability of possessing aggressive traits or behavior due to the way they’ve been bred historically, any breed of dog can behave aggressively under certain circumstances. Below are some common dog breeds that are more likely to show aggression than others. With that being said, this does not mean that these are bad dogs or that they shouldn’t be owned as pets. It simply means that due to their genetics, they have a predisposition to behave in certain ways.

Dogs are conditioned with the desire to please their owners, so most incidents involving aggressive dogs result from irresponsible ownership, abuse, neglect, lack of socialization, and improper training and mistreatment by the owner. If trained properly and cared for by a loving family, these dogs can be just as loving and playful as any other breed of dog. Many dogs on this list were originally bred to be fighting dogs, hunting dogs or farming dogs. While this may no longer be the case, those genetics still exist.

  • Caucasian Ovcharka
  • Pitbull
  • German Shepherd
  • Rottweiler
  • Alaskan Malamute
  • Husky
  • Doberman Pinscher
  • Wolf Hybrid
  • Boxer
  • Great Dane
  • American bulldog
  • Saint Bernard

Avoid a Fight 

There are two options when encountering a feral dog. The first is to do everything possible to avoid a confrontation. Depending on the circumstances, there is a chance that a person can get away from the dog by putting an obstacle between them, getting to higher ground, or possibly running away if the running distance is short. Let’s start with some ways to avoid an attack. 

Move Slowly 

Any movements that you need to make should be done smoothly and slowly. Fast, jerky movements could be seen as a threat, and the dog will react accordingly. 

Avoid Eye Contact 

Direct eye contact should be avoided as it too can be seen as a threatening response. This does not mean you should take your eyes off the dog though. Keep the dog in your field of vision by looking down at the ground towards its paws or just off to the side of it. This way you will still be able to see the dog if it makes a move. 

Do Not Show Your Teeth

This can be a hard reaction to control because with people, showing our teeth through smiling is a non-threatening response. However, many animals show their teeth as an aggressive display. Avoid this confusion by keeping your pearly whites tucked away.   

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Talk in a Calm or Authoritative Voice 

This suggestion is twofold, and it entirely depends on how the dog reacts to you. Talking in a calm, soothing voice may help the dog feel at ease and see you as less of a threat. If this doesn’t work, trying a more authoritative voice by yelling “No!” might make the dog feel more submissive. 

Give Them Food 

One reason that a feral dog may be acting aggressively is that it is hungry. If you are carrying food, then they may smell that and simply want it. If the food is in a bag, reach into the bag slowly while talking in a calm voice, and throw the food away from you. When the dog shows more interest in the food over you, slowly back away and make your exit. 

Back Away Slowly 

If the dog is holding its ground and not advancing, it may just feel threatened and not want to attack. In this situation, it is best to keep talking calmly and to back away slowly. Do not turn your back to the dog until you have reached a safe distance, or you are out of sight. Also, do not turn and run away as this can trigger them into chase mode. 

Prevention is Key

Regardless of the type of dog, the best method for surviving an attack is prevention.

Your best method of prevention is to remain vigilant for stray, wild and feral dogs, especially known sightings of groups of dogs. If you detect them first, you have the advantage.

Keep your ears tuned for any barking, whimpering, yipping and growling, as well as screams of pain from humans or animals that indicate a subsequent dog attack.

In a post-SHTF scenario, try to avoid places where you have seen wild or feral dogs.

Stay close to camp or inside your home once darkness closes in. and avoid going out at night if you can help it as that’s when feral dogs are more likely to be out.

Dogs have superior eyesight in darkness and vastly superior senses of smell, which is their primary hunting sense. Avoid any areas where trash has accumulated or is being stored.

It is possible to survive a dog attack if you stay alert and follow the precautions outlined for you above. Above all, stay calm, don’t scream, and signal for help if you can do so safely.

If possible back away slowly until the dog no longer seems interested or until you can get inside or get on top of a vehicle or into a tree. If an attack seems inevitable, do what you can to minimize your injuries and prepare to fight the dogs with whatever resources you have.

The trick is learning to recognize don “language” that communicates their status- defensive or offensive- and be ready to make the switch to fight-for-your-life as soon as it appears the dog is escalating from defense to offense.

It is a touchy thing: the wrong reaction, or the right reaction done too enthusiastically or rapidly, might spur a dog on defense into going offensive. It is possible that the right reaction to a dog going offensive may “short circuit” him and give him pause or even halt the attack.

Unfortunately that is often not the case and too late to risk trying if you cannot back a dog down or back off yourself without a fight or bite. It is imperative that you are ready to act in defense at the drop of a hat when a dog moves to fight!

When All Hell Breaks Loose: Self Defense Against Dogs

1. Put something between your body and the dog’s teeth if you can. This could be a stick or something that separates the two of you. Of course, it could be a jacket wrapped around your arm, etc. Remember, that if you give it an arm then you have another plus both your legs free.

Along with this, you don’t want to end up on the ground with a dog.

2. If you understand Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, then you know that oftentimes attempting to simply pull your arm out of an armbar only serves to allow the hold to come together more easily. In the same spirit, pulling your arm from a biting dog will only help them to rip it to pieces. This is a bad idea. If a dog has a hold on a limb, your first priority is to deal with the dog and not to pull the limb out.

3. By the way, this is the time to try that pepper spray to the dog’s eyes (once the attack has commenced). If that works, great! AT THIS POINT, the pepper spray has the best chance of working. The reason is this: If an attack dog is charging you, and you pull out your spray and fire it at the dog, the dog can be moving so fast it charges right through it, but it may be more angry and more willing to use its mouth and teeth.

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So, rather than spray as it’s charging, you want to spray once you’ve brought the dog to a halt so that it can absorb the full brunt of the pepper spray.

4. This is also the time that you might want to try that stick (or if you’re lucky, stun baton or stun gun) you brought.

However, your best bet may not be to simply hit an attacking canine with it (though you could try that). Rather, attempt to shove it down the dog’s throat. This may cause the canine to choke and give you back your arm. Obviously if you have a stun weapon, then you should stun the dog here.

If a stick isn’t available, you might even consider shoving the arm the dog has down its throat depending on your situation as it could possibly have the same effect.

5. If none of the above work, then you’re running out of options beyond trying to truly beat the dog at its own game (in other words, no pun intended, you’re about to get into a real dogfight). You can try to strikes to the eyes — it’s time to get mean — or a strike directly to the throat may be in order.

6. If that doesn’t work, you could even try grabbing one of the dog’s hind legs, according to George Donahue at, and ripping up (thus putting the dog on its back in a submissive position). This could allow you to drag it.

Remember, though, that such a movement may put you at risk for ending up on the ground (a bad thing as it leaves your neck and other vital areas open to the dog). So proceed with care.

7. Of course, this is all assuming that you don’t have a gun on you. Still, you would only use such weaponry as a last resort (even if one of these scenarios did play out). Remember that most dogs act angrily only when they feel that you are threatening them or their family. Thus, the above steps could very well work before resorting to such tactics.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean they will.

In the end, dog attacks can be vicious and bloody. In fact, they can be deadly. Along with this, being prepared can mean the difference between life and death. As with any survival scenario, you should choose life and be ready.

What to Do if a Dog Attacks You Indoors

This scenario is most likely to happen if your own dog or the dog of an acquaintance is the problem — or if you’re in a dog-centric business like veterinary clinics or grooming.

In most situations, you’ll want to get a door between you and the dog. You can slam doors to make a dog let go if it’s got ahold of you.

Otherwise, you can put chairs, laptop bags, pillows, or just about anything else within reach between you and the dog. Striking an attacking dog with an object is probably a better idea than using your feet or hands.

Of course, try to call for help while all this is happening!

Once you and the dog are separated, take care of yourself mentally. Then come up with a game plan — you’ll probably need to remove the dog from where he currently is.

You may be able to use a piece of meat with sedatives if you have access to them inside the home. This will allow you to move the dog into a crate or do what you need to do.

Most animal shelters and veterinary offices will have procedures and tools in place to capture and sedate aggressive animals. Get to a phone and get help if you need to.

Dogs in a Pack

You must make every attempt to detect and avoid packs of unknown or aggressive dogs at all costs!

A pack of aggressive dogs is an order of magnitude more dangerous than a lone dog. Barring access to a firearm or large can of pepper or bear spray, you will only have the ability to engage one dog at a time, and you will be vulnerable to side and rear attacks from the others.

If you are brought to the ground, you can sustain multiple severe wounds in very short order with no ability to defend yourself.

Dogs in a pack are absolutely more dangerous and aggressive than a lone dog. You will need to have some different strategies since effectively disabling or driving off multiple dogs is far from a sure thing.

Look for a place that is high ground, such as a parked vehicle, low tree branch, or the roof of a low shed. Any place that makes it difficult for the dogs to reach you is advantageous. Anything you take shelter in is even better.

Typically, a wild or feral dog by itself will shy away from humans; they are simply looking for food. But any packs that roam together will exhibit much of the behavior of wild wolves, including group tactics, rendezvous points, and a pecking order when it comes to attack behavior, with less dominant or confident dogs circling or flanking.

Packs of dogs become even more dangerous in a SHTF scenario, the prey they normally would feast on will be dwindling due to hungry humans hunting in large numbers.

Never forger dogs can run faster than you. If you detect a group of dogs and your escape chances are anything less than 100%, pull your weapon and make ready as soon as you become aware of them. An average dog can close and bite from 40 yards faster than most people can draw their weapon!

Whenever possible, travel in a group and make sure each person is armed and prepared to fight if a pack of dogs attacks. Try to identify the alpha dog in the pack and target him first. This will send a strong message to the rest of the pack and may be enough to send them running.


Advanced training includes:
  • Grappling postures, positions, holds and locks for grappling dogs. This is trained at the school on real dogs, in a dog friendly way. 
  • ​Using your toughened hand weapons and strikes on dogs.
  • How to engage and fight multiple dogs, and read a pack.
  • How to fight dogs and their owners.
  • The use of specialized and improvised weapons against dogs.
  • Online testing, training at the school, and shooting at the range.

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I hope you enjoyed this post and learned something that may save your life one day! Later I’ll publish posts on how to break up dog fights, come to the aid of others, and how buy a good protection dog of your own. Leave your comments below! Subscribe your email, if you haven’t already, to receive notifications when there are news posts.

What to Do if a Dog Attacks You While On Leash

If you’re holding the leash of a dog that’s attacking you, you’ve got a lot of options.

Always start your walk by looping the leash strap over your thumb and hold the leash with both hands near your belly.

I coach all of my clients to walk their dogs this way – it’s more comfortable and safe than wrapping a leash around your hand. This gives you maximal control, especially if the dog is bigger than you. It also allows you to drop the leash if necessary.

Use two handlers and two leashes if you’re worried about a given dog. This allows each person to hold a leash, so if needed, they can pull the dog away from the other handler. Walk the dog between the two people – this method is really only useful for shelter workers.

This is a great option if you’ve got a threatening dog and don’t have a catch pole or other tool designed especially for handling dangerous dogs.

If the dog is actively attacking you, you have two main options for stopping the attack:

  1. String-ups. These are tricky, so practice using a heavy bag first. This is an emergency defensive move where you essentially yank a dog upwards and away from you (with straight arms), often while you hop backwards. This is not meant to be a correction. It’s a defensive move to get a dog away from you if that dog is trying to hurt you.
  2. A loop-back. This is my favorite trick for handling aggressive dogs. You can loop your leash around a tree, post, chain link fence, or just about any other solid object. Then you can pull on the leash, which pulls the dog towards that object and away from you.


When your confronted by an aggressive dog who hasn’t committed to attack yet, how you respond can change the outcome of the encounter. Remember the following 5 steps, they can save your life.

#1 Stay Calm: Avoid sudden movements. Do Not Run! Don’t start yelling, waiving your arms, or kicking. Don’t give in to fear, dogs want their prey to run or be stressed before they attack. If you remain calm and in control, it slows them down, makes them more cautious, and can make you look like less appealing prey.​#2 Avoid Direct Eye Contact: Look at the dog peripherally, direct eye contact is a threat, and a challenge that can cause the dog to attack.#3 Prepare To Fight: Stand slightly sideways to minimize available targets, if you have a bag bring it slightly forward, if not bring your forearm forward (keep your forward hand in a fist to help protect the fingers), and slowly draw your weapon with your rear hand.#4 Make an Offering: If you have anything on you like a water bottle, ball, toy, hat etc. You can try throwing the object, not at the dog, but a few feet in front of it, on an angle. Sometimes this will switch the dogs focus and cause him to inspect your offering, giving you time to slowly back away. #5 Take Space: If the dog calms down, slowly start to make yourself appear bigger, extend your bag and take a little more space. In dog language this says “I don’t want your space, I just want the space I am in.”Maintain this calm and assertive state; this may earn the dog’s respect by letting it know that you are not afraid. When a dog senses that you aren’t threatening it, and that you are not threatened by it, it might lose interest.If this doesn’t work and the dog attacks, you must fight for your life, a dog won’t stop if you play dead. 


Knowing how to deal with a wildlife encounter doesn’t seem all that important until it happens to you.

But keep this general rule in mind when it comes to dealing with wild animal encounters. Don’t threaten them, or at least try not to intentionally threaten them. And it’s likely you’ll be fine and will live to fight another day.

Lastly, this video shows you six ways to survive a wild animal attack.

We hope this wild animal survival guide helped you know how to survive a wild animal attack and prepare for a potential encounter. You might also like our complete disaster preparedness guide on how to survive a natural disaster.

Be safe, be prepared.

Have you ever been attacked by a wild animal?

survive wild animal attacks
survive wild animal attacks