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How to respond to an aggressive dog

(12 Posts)
AgeingArtemis Sun 27-Nov-16 15:09:45

I'll start this by explaining that I was attacked by my aunts dog when I was 2. However, I've had plenty of exposure to "nice" dogs, and I even considered getting one myself! I'm not especially scared of dogs, but can be a bit wary around unknown dogs.

The other day I was at the edge of the park, skulking around in the bushes (I was geocaching grin) when 3 dogs also entered the bushes. 2 of them were fine, got a bit close to me and made me jump, a little bit bouncy but I could tell they didn't mean any harm. The 3rd dog, quite a large one! immediately started behaving in a highly aggressive way, snarling and growling at me in a really scary, "this means business" manner.

I tried to stay calm and slowly walk away, but he (or she) kept rounding at me in an extremely threatening way. I honestly think if I had continued to walk it would have actually attacked me. I was fucking terrified by this point, and just stayed as still as possible. I was aware that as I'm in the bushes, the owner can't see that there's a problem. I thought about shouting for help but I was too scared it might make the dog attack and anyway I'm not sure I could have got a sound out!

Eventually the owner came over and tried to call the dog off, she eventually had to drag it away from me so I could walk out of the bushes. Every time she let go of it it kept coming back towards me and snarling. Eventually she put it on the lead and the second it was secure I walked off quickly. By this point I was very close to tears, because of the shock and fear.

It's really shaken me up, and now I'm scared to go to my local parks alone in case that dog is there again. I'm too scared to go geocaching in woods/bushes where owners of dogs can't see me as I feel so vulnerable.

If a similar situation occurs, what's the best course of action? Keep trying to walk into the open? Try to scare the dog away? (I definitely wouldn't have been able to in this case), shout for help?

sparechange Sun 27-Nov-16 15:20:03

It's totally unacceptable that the dog was snarling at you and even more that the owner didn't come and help immediately but please be assured this is very very uncommon and shouldn't put you off your hobbies (although having recently got into geocaching, and living near a famous cottaging site, I'm a bit more careful now when rummaging in bushes!)

It is difficult to say for certain but what you describe as the dog 'rounding' may well have been the dog trying to push or herd you away from something they were guarding. It might have been food or the owner but it is a lot more 'normal' dog behaviour than it trying to circle or enclose you

Basic things would be to not stare the dog in the eye but also have assertive body language (easier said than done, I know)

Walk purposefully in the direction you want to, unless the dog blocks your path in which case walk away because you might be walking towards whatever it is it's defending

Try not to run and definitely try not to squeal or scream
A very firm NO DOG can help but your best bet is just to move away

Report the dog to the dog warden/council. Preferably with a description of the owner and the other dogs because it is totally unacceptable for this to happen in a public park

AgeingArtemis Sun 27-Nov-16 16:53:17

To be fair to the owner she couldn't immediately see that there was something going on, because of me being in the bushes! She seemed like quite a nice person, her dog just clearly wasn't!

Seeing as the dog didn't actually touch me, I didn't even think that I could report it, but now you've said that I might. Problem is that I am terrible for remembering faces at the best of times, and I barely looked at her before I fled! Same with the other dogs, the scary one I could recognize the breed of, barely noticed the others apart from size and colour.

She mentioned that the dog was a rescue, so maybe I looked like someone from its past? I wasn't doing anything threatening towards it like holding a stick or anything, I was just minding my own business. I'm not sure if the dog was "rounding" on me or "circling". There wasn't really anywhere else for me to walk to a I was quite trapped by the trees and undergrowth- towards the open space was the dog, and the other side ends up in the river after about 15 meters.

sparechange Sun 27-Nov-16 17:03:38

There is no way of knowing for certain what triggered the dog but my money would be on it trying to guard something - either the owner, another dog, or some food - rather than just being aggressive towards you

Guarding behaviour is quite common - although not this extreme - where as just being aggressive to someone isn't

It does sound like the dog was saying 'back off and move away' rather than 'I'm coming to get you' but like I said, it is impossible to know for certain without seeing what happened

Hope your future walks are less eventful!

hillyhilly Sun 27-Nov-16 17:14:23

I think you did the best thing in staying still even if it is because you were too terrified to move and as another poster said do not make eye contact. You basically want to make yourself as unthreatening and boring as possible. It could be that the dog was startled to find you rummaging in the bushes and responded badly through fear

AgeingArtemis Mon 28-Nov-16 15:57:31

Bumping in case anyone else has some other advice!

I had heard about the "avoid eye contact" thing before, but it didn't cross my mind at the time. I was especially staring at it I don't think, but I was definitely watching it to see where it was! So that's one to remember.

Cycled to work across a park with loads of dogs right next to the cycle path, wasn't too bothered (a little bit more wary than normal though) because owners were nearby. I think it will be a while before I stop being nervous of unaccompanied dogs!

sparechange Mon 28-Nov-16 16:02:48

Watching the dog is fine but don't try and stare it out!

Shriek Mon 28-Nov-16 16:38:43

Horrible experience and I not surprosed you were terrified rehardless of any previous experiences. Even a small dog can cause a lot of damabge when serious and most dogs in parks are really not like this.

One thung I would say tho is that dogs are very watchful of any strange behaviours and its not normal for them to find people in bushes. Like dogs are a lot more alert after dark. So I would say that caching in doggie parks is not the best of mixes!!

This doesnt mean you did anything wrong or to be blamed for anything and the dog was completely out of order and a real worry to public safety.

As you are fearful and cant just switch that off when faced with a dog I would keep to safer spaces tbh. Her dog does need reporting and checking up on.

MsAdorabelleDearheartVonLipwig Mon 28-Nov-16 21:53:28

It was the other owner's fault for losing her dogs to be honest, you can't just let them go wandering off out of sight like that. They could have been nicked or anything. Most dog owners aren't as daft as that and hopefully you won't meet her again.

<fellow geocacher fistbump>

Wonderflonium Mon 28-Nov-16 22:04:06

You could try yawning and turning your head away, it's dog for "calm down, dude". Dogs throw in a lick of their own nose for good measure but that might be taking it too far.
(Honestly, everything you did was right. No threatening body language, no sudden movements CHECK )

PacificDogwod Mon 28-Nov-16 22:08:52

<another geocacher>

Agree, it sounds like you did everything right.

The head turning away and yawning definitely works grin

Turning your body side-on and while not looking at him holding out a hand, palm up is non-threatening and may encourage a dog to come for a sniff or loose interest. Stand still or move away slowly.

Having said all that, it sounds like the owner could have done with being a bit more aware of where the dog was/what it was doing.

100milesanhour Wed 30-Nov-16 22:34:11

It could have been an ex working dog, my dog runs around people in circles to herd them but that dog should not have been growling or snapping at you.

You did all the right things. I hope you're ok. I would report it and hopefully the owner is found and the dog is muzzled in the future.

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