I need something to fend off a dog that attacks my dog.
August 26, 2014 9:31 AM   Subscribe

I have 2 dogs which I walk on leashes in my neighbor hood. A house on my block has a huge Rotweiler and he is dog-aggressive. The people are careless and do not properly restrict teh dog to theri property. Twice in the last month the dog (unleashed and untied, no fence in yard) has attacked one of my dogs in the street.

I am pursing the issue with police and all applicable avenues I am referred to for legal / health / etc.

But in the mean time, I live in a Phila rowhome and walk my dogs at least 2x a day. I do not feel safe and I do not believe these people are taking the issue seriously. After the last attack, the owner asked "Well when do you walk your dog?" as if they were just going to avoid irresponsibility for small windows of time and expect me to arrange my life to accomdate thier negligence. NOPE.

What can I carry to fend off this dog if he attacks again. I am small, just over 100lbs, and this dog is way bigger than me. I'm no Royce Gracie. I see conflicting info about the effectiveness of sprays and sticks. If possible i would prefer some sort of spray as a stick would be more cumbersome with the 2 dogs. What kids of spray(s) or stick objects or something else (taser?) should I get for this purpose?
posted by WeekendJen to Pets & Animals (28 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
IF possible I would like to stay away from handguns as I'm not a fan and Phila's carry laws are much more restricted than the rest of PA.
posted by WeekendJen at 9:38 AM on August 26, 2014

If I were you, I'd call the police and animal control. Carrying mace is not a bad idea but you're going to have a hard time walking by this property and macing the same dog everyday. Is there some reason you must walk by this house when you walk your dog? Is there some reason you did not give your neighbor a schedule so that they can keep their dog in the house when you are out walking? I know there's the principle of the thing but that's cold comfort when the real issue is safety. If you see the dog out and free, call animal control every single time.

If you talk to this neighbor again, talk to them about securing the animal and how menacing the dog is. Tell the neighbor that if the dog attacks a child, their dog will likely be put to sleep and the neighbor will likely go to jail.
posted by amanda at 9:40 AM on August 26, 2014 [7 favorites]

If they are not restraining their dog-aggressive Rotweiler which has already attacked your dogs, any measures you take to protect yourself and your dogs might fail, regardless.

Unless you are willing to risk your dogs being killed, you must not walk within range of that dog. End of story.
posted by General Tonic at 9:41 AM on August 26, 2014 [8 favorites]

I've heard of umbrellas working if you've trained your dogs not to mind it. I guess opening it is scary to a lot of dogs. I'm not an expert so maybe someone else can expand on this. But honestly I can't see how avoiding this dog isn't the only workable solution. What a mess, so sorry for you and your dogs.
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:47 AM on August 26, 2014

Ok so this is also for my own peace of mind. I don't walk on their half of my block anymore, but my neightborhood is full of druggie flophouses with understimulated bully dogs, so I want something i can carry not only for this dog, but for other potential dog attacking issues and to "feel safer".
posted by WeekendJen at 9:47 AM on August 26, 2014

Also I agree about trying to schedule walks. It sucks but your dog being hurt would suck much more.
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:48 AM on August 26, 2014

Carrying defensive sprays may make you feel better, but I agree it is a dangerously false sense of security. They can make an attacking animal more aggressive. It is also possible that you will not be able to react in time to use them effectively during an attack, or else they may affect you and your animals more than the Rottweiler and leave you at a terrible disadvantage.

What about carrying an air horn? I have heard that these can be deterrents (though I guess that may also make a crazed dog crazier), but it may also help you get attention from the neighborhood.

I agree you should do everything in your power to avoid the house altogether.
posted by juliplease at 9:49 AM on August 26, 2014

Treats over tasers. Bribe him, make friends with him, without the dogs at first and then see if he changes his behavior around them once he wants the good stuff. Rotties are very food motivated.
posted by mannequito at 9:50 AM on August 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

Bear spray can be found at your local sporting goods store and is good for this purpose.
posted by txtwinkletoes at 9:54 AM on August 26, 2014 [2 favorites]

This is the reason cudgels were invented. Treats simply reward the attacking behaviour.
posted by Nevin at 10:01 AM on August 26, 2014 [2 favorites]

Ask the police for more patrols in the area to help reduce the effects of "druggie flophouses."
posted by rhizome at 10:13 AM on August 26, 2014

You might find a cattle prod useful. Having had my dog attacked by another, that's the tool I wished I'd had. A cudgel is liable to be too damaging to the attacking dog, I think.
posted by anadem at 10:25 AM on August 26, 2014 [3 favorites]

You might find a cattle prod useful.

I hope this is a joke; Cattle prods are illegal in most jurisdictions without a license for herding cattle.

You've already done the responsible things; you've tried to be civil and ask the owners of the dog to…you know, take care of the dog.

Now you get to escalate. Everytime the dog approaches you, you call the police and make sure to actually file a police report. Make it stick. Enough complaints and actual tickets, and things will escalate on their own. It's really unlikely that dogs roaming the streets are just a free for all where you live. They're at least going to get a ticket. If the dog is off-leash, and not on his own property, you call the police non emergency line and

If the dog attacks you or your dog, straight 911 call.

You might need a license to carry it, but I would get some Bear-Spray. If the dog even approaches, use it. It would be helpful in this scenario, for you legally to probably have a complaint or two on file with the police first. Then you can go back and display that it wasn't an isolated event.
posted by furnace.heart at 10:45 AM on August 26, 2014

My little dog got attacked by somebody's Doberman once. He was okay (my husband was able to prise him from the Doberman's jaws and got bit in the process) but I read up on what to do if it ever happened again and one thing they said to do is if the dog has a hold of your dog, to pick the attacking dog's back legs up like a wheelbarrow and he will drop the victim dog. I have not tried this myself though.

But definitely avoid going any where near them, call the police as often as it takes and carry mace. There is no excuse for keeping a vicious dog in a neighborhood setting.
posted by Jess the Mess at 10:50 AM on August 26, 2014

Are you okay with macing or spraying your own dogs? Because it's hard to imagine a scenario where you can limit the spray to the attacking dog and not also get your own dogs.
posted by ambrosia at 11:01 AM on August 26, 2014 [6 favorites]

Bear spray/pepper spray sounds good until it all goes wrong and gets you and your dog. Assuming attacked means bitten and not just making a lot of noise there isn't a lot you can do. Dogs that bluff bark can sometimes be bluffed into backing down but not something I'd risk if you don't know what you are doing. Dogs can run faster than you can get mace ready and aimed, wind etc makes a huge difference and hitting a moving target is a pain. Add stress & fear into the mix and 2 your two dogs pulling at you and chances of just getting just the attacking dog are slim, there is no easy solution.

Your best bet in my opinion, and it's a long shot, would be to startle the dog to break it's focus on your dog. A soda can full of pennies is traditional and very effective, distraction technique, as is a strong water pistol, or even one of those air horns. Both might (emphasize might) make the dog go wait a second giving you time to back away. Trouble is pretty much every method except avoidance all have a chance to go horribly wrong.

I only offer the above suggests because that's what you asked for seriously I think avoidance is your best method. I used to drive my dog 2 blocks to a nice park to walk every day to avoid similar issues. Keeping you and your dogs safe is the most important thing.
posted by wwax at 11:04 AM on August 26, 2014 [2 favorites]

The dog bit and broke my dog's skin in several areas.

Are there any things like thrown distractions? Is there a silly string like gel formulated spray that would be more target-able?
posted by WeekendJen at 11:27 AM on August 26, 2014

Just to be clear, the idea of giving the dog treats is not to divert an attack but to reward the dog for NOT attacking you. If he is dog aggressive and you can make friends with him without your dogs around you can train him not to be aggressive when he sees you. You create the association of, "I see/hear/smell WeekendJen, now good things will happen." Then you can start to reward him for NOT being aggressive. Once he is showing any amount of aggression, the treats will reinforce the negative behavior. The dog needs to be rewarded for good behavior.

That will only work with that one dog, over time and it might take a long time. It's the sort of thing that the dog's owners SHOULD be doing (in addition to having a fence, leash, etc.).
posted by VTX at 11:37 AM on August 26, 2014

I carry bear spray. It will do a fog kind of spray (this is more useful to me than a single stream since when I am running and terrified, I have no aim) and shoot about 10-15 feet. This is a much safer distance than the 1-2 feet those little cans will send the spray. Usually a dog that is chasing me hears the sound and stops. It does not even run into the spray.

There is a danger of spraying yourself or your own dog with this stuff, so be careful. I use this only as an absolute last resort, like if my dog is actually being chewed on or if someone is standing there saying "good dog" as their dog charges at mine while display aggressive body language (per Brenda Aloff's many useful books on the topic).
posted by AllieTessKipp at 12:05 PM on August 26, 2014

If it goes as far as you have to use something to defend yourself and your pups, I'd recommend something like a long umbrella with a metal tip. Grasp it by the end of the tines, not by the handle, with the metal point away from you like a fencing rapier. Grasping it this way will keep it from opening and becoming unwieldy when you're under attack.

Take both dogs leashes in your off hand, umbrella in your right, and short jabs at the attacking animal's face like the umbrella is a sewing-machine-needle, over and over and over. DO NOT raise the umbrella up and use it like a club. The dog wil shrug it off and get it's rending, tearing teeth inside your guard if you swat him with it.

Keep the length of umbrella between you and the dog at ALL times and sewing-machine-needle jabs to the sharp teeth until it decides you're not kidding about protecting yourself and your pups. You may need to do this dog some injury, and that sucks. But at that point, it is a wild animal coming in teeth first.

Hope animal control takes it away before it comes to that.

Best of luck.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 1:02 PM on August 26, 2014

I think a lot of these suggestions are too fancy. What you need is a baseball bat.

Well, really what you need is to get Animal Control involved. But you say you are pursuing that. Assuming that's the case then what you need is a baseball bat.
posted by Justinian at 1:04 PM on August 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

It seems like a stun baton might work? The first review of this particular one states:

"I've had this nightstick for nearly a year and it has stopped so many potential dog fights I can't even count them. Just the sound has stopped a charging pitbull and a 100 lb rottweiler from attacking my dog."
posted by Ostara at 1:14 PM on August 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

Ask your mail carrier, they are expert at this. Our local carrier used a product that was a pump spray.

I know it's your right to walk your dogs where you will but I would probably avoid the situation as much as possible while you pursue other solutions.
posted by vapidave at 5:41 PM on August 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

Another vote for bear spray. It works. Nail the other dog while it's still 10' away. And sue them for the vet bills. Money is a strong motivator for most people to be more responsible.
posted by fshgrl at 6:31 PM on August 26, 2014

Squirt gun full of 2/3 ammonia and 1/3 water. Get a silly pink or orange kiddy squirt gun that does a decent long squirt.

I've done this on nasty dogs that attacked my horse when out riding. Works great. Dog never did come out at me again until several years had passed, and the owners got a second nasty pit bull that encouraged the first to try again. That time I was riding a horse that was not as timid with his hooves, and he kicked one and struck at the other. The first horse was just too intimidated.
posted by BlueHorse at 7:55 PM on August 26, 2014 [2 favorites]

Step one: read up on the laws governing dogs and dog ownership in your town. You will learn many interesting things. For example, if the dog bites you or your animal while off its owners property, which you say it has, it can be declared a dangerous dog, which has hefty fees and responsibilities. Which leads to...

Step two: document everything. Keep a log book of dates and times and incidents. Report the previous dog bites to the police and to Philadelphia Animal Care & Control Team at 267-385-3800. Report all future incidents of the dog being aggressive, not constrained to its property, etc, to both the police and animal control. Since the bites happened in the past, use the non-emergency line to contact the police, but use 911 if a dangerous situation unfolds in the future. Be nice to them, they are your allies. It has been my experience that the animal control people really want to help and will give you good info, but they can only do so much without the paper trail. If it's safe to do so, take video as well. But call them every time. Things will change as you give them more amunition.

Step three: avoid putting your dog in harms way. Avoid confrontations with the owners as well.

Lastly, I would like to appeal to you to not mace or beat the dog if at all possible. Dogs need structure and exercise and it sounds like the owners are not providing either. Most of the time these situations are the owners fault, and I hate to see an animal suffer for it. Even this dog can most likely be socialized in the right environment and further abuse to the dog will only make that more difficult. But your safety and your dogs safety must be weighed against that, so use your best judgement. Calls to animal control are your most effective weapon, though.
posted by jeffamaphone at 11:33 PM on August 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

It was reported to Animal Control prior to posting this question. They were great once I clarified. Apparently you need to use BUZZ WORDS like "dangerous dog" cause they are busy and if you start out with "negligent owners" they try to push you off to teh SPCA which deals with abuse and neglect cases. Police "don't deal with dogs" and quite frankly copped a major attitude and were completely unhelpful (called my local district). I will be calling 911 if it happens again.
posted by WeekendJen at 8:57 AM on August 27, 2014

Good, good.

Stay respectful, but keep letting the police know. The more they are aware of whats going on, even it if it is a thorn in their side, the better in the end. If there is property damage or harm to you / your dog, I would think you should be able to get a police report. Tell them you need it for your lawsuit to recoup medical expenses, etc. They probably won't head out right away, or they may do everything over the phone (e.g. cops in SF don't respond to busted car windows, they just have a web form that auto-generates a report).
posted by jeffamaphone at 10:37 AM on August 27, 2014

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