Top Tips for Defending Against Dog Attacks

Thousands of people have now seen this shocking footage of a dog attacking a group of police officers in Newham, east London.

One officer suffered a broken arm, and armed police had to be called in to terminate the dog. Such is its impact that it prompted a rather silly question to Bernard Hogan-Howe on Wednesday about UK police carrying firearms. I hardly think this is reasonable.

It is clear to your correspondant that the officers had no idea what to do when confronted by the Pit Bull Terrier. There were some half hearted attempts to attack it, but in the end most retreated while the unfortunate copper tried to shake the dog off his arm.

Assuming the attack is definitley going to happen, here’s a quick guide:

Major No-nos

  • Running – You are not going to outrun an angry dog. Trust me. Also, that just shows them fear. They’ll capitalise on that as it triggers their prey drive.
  • Trying to rip your flesh out of a dog’s mouth – It won’t work and will damage you more. Just accept it and use his momentary relative motionlessness to your advatage.
  • Hitting the dogs haunches or body to get it to release its bite. The muscles are totally unrelated. As you can see from the video, it has no effect. You need to know the pressure points. Reports of a dog attack in Hampstead Heath, London, last month told of it being “beaten for over twenty minutes” before releasing its grip. That’s because they were “beating” the wrong part of the dog.

General tactics

  • Offer a detachable target. The dog will act as if it is detaching flesh. Buys you time.
  • Failing that, offer a non-detachable target. Left arm preferablle. You’ll know from your first-aid training that leg damage is more serious. This will be the best way of stopping it moving very quickly. At that point you can then counter attack properly.
  • After offering a target, have a colleague raise the dog’s hind legs. he will then be unable to gain leverage to pull on what is in his mouth.
  • Pepper spray to the nose. Unfortunately PCSOs won’t have this capability.
  • Blows from the back of the jaws forward will dislocate his jaws and make him useless. Don’t try it just with punching though.

Releasing the Grip

  • Fighting dogs don’t have “locking jaws”, they’re just really strong.
  • There are two small muscles behind the major jaw muscles where the hinge of the jaw is. Pressing these hard will release the grip.

Dog Weak Points

  • Mouth – If it’s an option, shove something straight down it. Obviously only an option if his head is made to be relatively motionless or you get your aim right on a jumping attack. He’ll choke and pass out.
  • Eyes – as deeply as possible and as strongly as possible.  Takes courage.
  • Ears – ramming your fingers, etc. right down both channels and hold.
  • Water – If you can submerge his head under water while he’s on you, do so. If that means jumping the canal, fine. But you’re better in water than him.

Overall, it’s going to be difficult. A lot will depend on how experienced, how fast, and how strong you are. If there’s no hope of buying time while the owner calls it off, you’ll probably have to offer your left arm. But without weapons, this might be the best way of getting control of the dog. Whatever you do, don’t struggle like the officer in Newham.

On the strength of that video, it’s probably about time PCSOs and POs got some mandatory training on dealing with dogs

Finally, your author also reassures all PCSOs and POs reading this that his Staffordshire Bull Terrier cross American Bulldog would never attack you…

If you have any further tips on how to defend yourself from dangerous dogs that we’ve forgotten, please leave a comment below!