Do you remember thinking THAT? Reactive Dogs Need MORE LOVE!

Do you remember that moment when seeing a dog lunging, barking, and baring teeth thinking, “Oh my gosh, that is a horrible dog! Why doesn’t the owner yell at it or train it better? What a bad dog!” Do you remember thinking THAT? Okay, well the thoughts might not have been exactly that, but I remember hurrying my dog away while giving sidelong glances at the owner of a reactive dog passing by. At the time I didn’t know what “reactive” meant or that “reactive” was even a term to describe dogs.

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What is a reactive dog? Well a reactive dog isn’t a dog who barks a lot, or a jumping kangaroo dog. Reactivity is seen when a dog overreacts to something. When a dog is scared they hide, bark, lunge, snarl, etc. If you’ve heard of flight or fight, this is where it takes place. A reactive dog will TAKE ACTION. It won’t stay frozen. You may see it freeze for a few seconds, but it will quickly decide whether to run & hide or try to scare away whatever it is truly scared of.

Before Oreo I had a childhood dog that lived 18 long years with me. I loved Snowy, the white-highland terrier. She was was stubborn as all heck and loved playing a good game of chase when we were 10 years old around the neighborhood for hours. She was your average behaved terrier, one with little behavioral problems who you could trust around many people. Did she bark? Sure. Did she overreact and seem to “lose it”? No.

When my husband and I decided to get a puppy, we didn’t think we’d have a lifetime of training ahead of us. We, like the average dog owner, thought we would take her to a few classes and she would be well-behaved. Do you remember thinking THAT? Well, how wrong we were indeed. As a puppy I tried to give Oreo many experiences with other dogs, training, and people. As a teacher and person, I am someone who “follows the rules” to the best of my ability. Being a good dog owner, I pleaded with my husband to take a walk with Oreo before we went shopping at the mall when she was 9 months old. That walk changed everything. A few weeks after that walk Oreo started showing signs of being reactive. See on that same walk, the walk I thought I had to take her on, she got attacked by another dog.

Oreo when we first got her

Oreo when we first got her

A week or so after the attack we took Oreo back to the vet to get checked out again. I remember sitting in the waiting room with her & instead of her cowering on my lap or on the floor next to me, she was now wildly lunging, barking, & snapping at a passing dog. When we got into the area where the vet examines Oreo, she snarled and hid under the chair, not wanting to be touched. This was very unlike her, a shy, but easygoing, sweet tempered dog. At puppy training she was recommended as a therapy dog.

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Things definitely changed.

Those were the first signs and as they progressed to an event I call the “culminating one” (I’ll save that for another post), I knew I needed to do something. We called in a local trainer, who came into our home and Oreo was very calm & great. However, outside in the neighborhood she cowered, then barked and lunged at dogs in other apartments. He told us a few tricks and went home.

He didn’t seem concerned, but I WAS. I now have at least 20 or more publications & books on reactive dogs and training. I can’t thank Ali Brown enough & her training & book (Scaredy Dog!) which turned my life & saved Oreo’s life. I remember thinking dogs like Oreo were bad. Those dogs couldn’t be lovable, they must be like that all the time, unlovable. How wrong was I? I believe reactive dogs need MORE LOVE because they are afraid, because they do need self-confidence. Does this mean hugging them? HECK NO!!  What I mean is attention, training, doing things fun for them, building confidence, and spending time with them helping them learn ways to cope with the scary world around them.

It’s been a long rode, from thinking dogs were bad, misbehaved, to really seeing what is going on inside a dog & its’ emotions. As humans and dog owners we must ask ourselves WHY a dog does certain things & how we can help them. We must give our reactive dogs MORE LOVE because boy do they need it!!

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Management vs. Training

Can any amount of training or management be stressful?

Yes!

Managing your dog means not allowing your dog to be in stressful situations. For example, if your dog is stressed out by parents, don’t bring your dog to the party. Management is thinking through what you will allow your dog to see/do/etc and where they will be…basically controlling the situation. When are times I manage my dog? I manage my dog every single day in many different ways without even thinking about it anymore, it comes naturally & part of the routine.

  • Avoiding crowded parks & areas
  • Avoiding big parties
  • Turning away from an oncoming dog
  • Getting more distance between us and a dog while on a walk
  • Bringing the dog to another room or out back when someone is at the door
  • Leaving her alone when she is sleeping

Can some management be too much? Yes, of course. There is a balance between training & management. Some people choose to manage more, other train. I like to have a nice blend of both. Everyone should do what works best for their dog & themselves.

If someone over manages this can lead to stress of the part of the owner and sometimes the dog. For example, if your dog is scared of other dogs that doesn’t mean you should lock your dog in the house and never let them go out or see another dog. You will need to use training in conjunction with management to allow your dog to move forward. With too much management, a dog cannot grow.

Can you over train your dog? I don’t think dogs can get tired of training if you do it correctly. If you use positive training & make it fun, your dog will love it! However, if you push for long periods of time and use negative punishment your dog may only get worse. Training should be in short periods, especially training which pushes them mentally or physically. If you see your dog getting stressed, stop and try another time-training is supposed to be fun!

For example, if you are training your dog with parallel walking with another dog 10 feet away, do a few walks back and forth. Observe how the dogs are reacting and if they are both paying attention to the owner and looking relaxed, move a few steps closer. Do a few walks back and forth (maybe 20 feet or so). After this probably only around 10 minutes have gone by. However, if your training your reactive dog, you know they may not be physically tired, but they are definitely mentally tired. Take a break of at least 15 minutes, but only do this a few times a day. Some exercises are particularly stressful for dogs, you need to gauge your dog’s stress levels.

Training & management=success. Too much of either could lead to disaster. You want to make sure you use management so you don’t put your dog in a stressful situation that may make them regress. Additionally, you want to train so management is easier and less. Both work hand in hand.

DSCN4337Oreo is relaxing here while her grandpa & dad are building a garden. In this situation she is managed because she is on-leash, but she is also getting training since her mom is standing nearby with treats when she sees a dog. Oreo doesn’t love strangers, but with time she learns to be relaxed and enjoy their company.

 

As reactive dog parents, we need to ask ourselves questions constantly that many other people don’t even take a second to think about.

  • Should I take my dog to the party?
  • How can I avoid that dog/person/bike/etc as I’m walking so that my dog doesn’t get over threshold?
  • How can I bring my dog to the vet without causing too much stress?
  • What will I do with my dog when I have people over?
  • Should I consider anxiety medicine for my canine?
  • Do I need window film so my dog doesn’t bark out the window all day?
  • What do I have to cover the car windows so my dog doesn’t lose it?
  • Did I remember dog treats on my walk?

The questions could go on forever and we are always asking them. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as any dog owner will ask and remind themselves of various things from time to time. However, we are often on high alert for things that stress out our dog, especially when there is change or they are outside their normal environment. I wanted to take a minute to thank all of the pet parents out there dealing with reactive dogs. It definitely isn’t easy and we are very stressed at times, but remember you are saving a dog’s life, your dog. You are taking the time to train your dog or manage the surroundings so your dog can have a happy life, even if your dog doesn’t get to go with you everywhere.

Sometimes we forget to appreciate all of the work we do until someone points it out. Recently I was at the vet and got an amazing compliment. My vet told me how amazing of a job we (my husband and I) have done with Oreo. She said it’s made such a difference and Oreo doesn’t need to be muzzled or anything during her vet exam. Furthermore, she told me without us, she knows Oreo would’ve been dead in another family and we have saved her life.

Life is crazy and there’s always things to worry & stress about, but little reminders of why we do what we do (help reactive dogs) make it all worth it. Okay, the dog kisses, happy wagging tails, and smiles also help! 10371611_10202676837374547_1549858418175138866_n

Should We Care?

Should we are what other people think of our dogs? Only minutes ago I was sitting on my porch while Oreo lounged in the spring-growing grass towards a neighbors dog that appeared from behind a car. The neighbors were taking their dog for a walk and emerged from behind their car with their dog on leash. I wasn’t expecting this, didn’t hear them as I was engrossed working on typing for a book I’m working on and of course Oreo lost it. Her threshold was over and there was no time to call her to attention or tempt her with treats. My laptop rolled off of my lap as I scrambled to pull her back on the leash.

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At this point I knew I couldn’t bring her into the house since she weighs too much for me to drag her in, plus they nearly passed our house. “Attack dog huh?” was the question the neighbor asked through the loud barking as they passed. I was too entangled with my job of keeping my dog in control to answer. When the neighbor’s dog finally was out of sight I the barking stopped and Oreo did a few paces around then laid back down into her casual spot. “No, we don’t want that, ” I heard from the neighbor. I have no idea what they were talking about, but for some reason I think I know. The neighbor is due any day now, and they have been talking about putting a large wooden fence up (which I would love, then we could get a fence and save some money by connecting it!). I can only guess perhaps she was saying she wouldn’t want her child attacked (who would?).

Oreo was scared. She’s reactive, so she reacts. I failed in my job to get her attention before she reached her threshold. However, I’m not going to pine about it-there was nothing I could have done, animals and people always appear from behind objects, which Oreo reacts to the worst. She does not like surprises, especially big scary surprises that remind of her of the attack from her past.

So why did I care what the neighbors thought? Well I automatically felt embarrassed because I thought I looked like a fool as I scrambled to hold onto my dog. I grew up with a mother who definitely cares what people think. I don’t usually care too much, but with Oreo I am more protective. I wish people could see how caring, kind, and loving this dog is. She is all kisses and cuddling inside (with the occasional leave me alone stare or warning if she is sleeping). However, I know people who are knowledgeable about reactive dogs know exactly how I feel. I highly recommend a reactive dog class that is positive. Not only do you learn how to give your dog courage, manage, and train your dog, but you also find companionship and comfort knowing you are not the only one and people do understand.

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Update

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A big hello from Oreo and I!! Yes it’s been many months since our last post and things have been crazy. I had some health issues over the summer and we FINALLY moved into our new home!!

Does Oreo like it? Of course!! She loves that there is more space and a yard to run around in. However, we have yet to get a fence as they are SUPER expensive. We have the house in the neighborhood we have always wanted, and Oreo’s grandparents are very close (this is good for dog sitting)! I’ve been looking into fence prices but of course the full privacy vinyl fences are the most expensive, but everything else would be a waste for her. She definitely needs to be blocked from seeing other dogs and people.

Another reason I haven’t posted is because things have been quite uneventful (until today). Uneventful Oreo=good Oreo. She’s been adjusting to the new house and enjoying many of her new toys from Christmas. On our walks around the neighborhood we have encountered a few dogs with electric fences. Is this good? Yes and no. I don’t believe in electric fences (even though my parents had one for my dog when I was very young-but that’s another post). The dogs tend to run at full speed snarling at us then stop short. Scares the bejesus out of Oreo and I. Luckily Oreo has been doing well-she will bark a few times then look at me for treats and keep walking. One owner of a large dog with an electric fence yelled to us that “it was okay, the dog has an electric fence”, however, it was not okay to me that his dog was lunging, snarling, and barking at us as we were walking by. 

Oreo’s health has had it’s ups and downs. There was a period of about 2 weeks where we had issues getting her allergy medicine (natural hydrocortisone) but finally received it and she is doing better.

However, Mom (me) hasn’t been doing the best job. I’ve been slacking on my duties. I was getting use to having a somewhat “normal” dog and became lazy. I gave Oreo some food from my plate, let her sit next to me on the couch as I was eating (ugh embarrassingly bad) and haven’t asked much of her. It’s been so cold & snowy we haven’t went on many walks either. Another no-no is a large bay window in the front living room-Oreo LOVES watching & barking at people/dogs/squirrels/anything that moves. So guess what I ordered today? Window film! I plan on putting this on the bottom squares of the bay window to eliminate the barking. 

I haven’t been my training obsessed self for a while and thought it might be okay to let her look out the window-it’s nice in fact that she can without barking 24/7. However, the barking has increased and I’m sure this leads to some amount of stress. Also, I need to bathe her more. I was told to bathe her at least every other week because of allergies but I haven’t. With work, the move, and everything else going on it wasn’t on the top of my list.

I haven’t been asking her to sit and wait before she goes out the door, nor have I practiced “trade with her”. Another thing I really worked hard on with her was insuring that if she was going to sleep on my bed, she would do so without growling if we moved our feet or pet her. However, I haven’t worked on that in a while and it shows. 

In the last week I’ve seen increased growling when we move our feet or pet her while she’s relaxing on our bed. I’ve also seen her growl at my husband when she was chewing her bone and he reached to pet her. She growled at me today for petting her while she was laying down (not sleeping). Then of course the big event-I was eating and she was laying on the couch next to me. My husband went to pet her and she snapped at him-made contact with his skin, but didn’t break it-no bleeding. 

I should’ve seen this all coming from what was going on around the house, however I guess I didn’t want to-I wanted to think I could relax and not have to put more work into having a dog-but duhhh dogs are work-especially fearful ones. So tomorrow we start anew and it’s back to the training realm. 

Practice:

  • trading
  • touch (while she is laying down in different places)
  • say please model-sit before going outside & wait, etc. 
  • Get the husband to train-he seems to set her off more often
  • Put window clings up
  • More baths for Oreo
  • Use the thundershirt when she seems stressed

My Dog is Deadly Contagious

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As I was away enjoying a few days with my mom in the Poconos, I got an urgent call from my husband seemingly upset. He rattled off a tale that I have been fearing ever since Oreo got attacked…a person who just doesn’t understand.

As many of you know, we live in townhomes, which we have been trying to get out of FOREVER! We finally sold our home back in May, but are currently stuck in a short sale. We do have a date we have to get out though-end of September is the moving date (YAY!). Anyway, he was enjoying a nice walk on the walkway behind out homes (about 50 feet away from our back door) with the dog and out of the corner of his eye he saw one of neighbors open his back sliding door and let the dog out. The neighbor is newer, but has mostly followed the rules about leashing his dog. My husband kept going on his leisurely walk with Oreo until he saw a golden retriever mix heading straight for them. Apparently the neighbor brought his dog out without a leash, surprise, surprise.

This is the scary moment, where I would say, “HOLY SHIT, IT’S HAPPENING!” Luckily, my husband is stronger than I am, and he told me that lifted her up way above his head as the dog approached. Oreo couldn’t see the dog since it was like Simba being held up in The Lion King. The dog below didn’t growl or snarl, but barked and waited below my husband to greet Oreo. However, Oreo was not in the greeting mood-she was looking around wildly trying to find the dog, growling and snarling.

“Don’t worry my dog is nice, she just wants to play,” was the response from our neighbor. Wow, how cliché is that? My husband yelled back, “My dog is not nice and will attack your dog!” The neighbor took his time getting to the dog, calling it-with no response. He finally reached his dog and left without a word. No sorry, no it won’t happen again, NOTHING!

Ugh! I have heard this blogged about countless times-people who think if their dog is nice, it’s okay. What if my dog isn’t nice? Should I have a blinking sign or shirt made that says stay away my dog will tear you apart? Maybe then, people would get the point…probably not. Our neighbor didn’t seem too concerned that his dog would be attacked. I would be running to get my dog and apologizing profusely if I were in his position.

Not surprisingly I was enjoying reading “The Whole Dog Journal” on my porch in the back yesterday with Oreo laying at my feet, when who comes out unsupervised? The golden mix pooch. At least he was leashed this time, but his leash was long enough to cross 3 townhomes and no one was supervising him (the rules in the neighborhood don’t allow dogs to be outside without someone with them). Oreo of course went ballistic as I pulled her inside then asked for tricks and gave her treats…I can’t wait to move & I bet Oreo can’t wait either!

The morale of the story is to have a plan. Matt and I have talked about this many times after Oreo was attacked-we wished we had a plan before she was attacked. We decided that we would risk getting bitten by Oreo if she would go crazy and bite us to get down (which hasn’t happened..) and risk getting attacked by the approaching dog. We decided we would rather be attacked than the dog. That is our personal choice, where many people would not risk it. I told my husband to yell to the owner of the loose dog that our dog is not friendly and will attack their dog. However, I see that doesn’t work as effectively as I thought. I did read somewhere where someone suggested that you should call out, “My dog is highly contagious.I thought I could take it another step and say, “My dog is deadly contagious.” (haha) I read recently if you are near a car you can try to get on the roof of a car if a dog is actually attacking-I always keep that in mind. Whether the dog is friendly or not, if your dog is reactive towards dogs, you must have a plan.

Sizzling Summer Reminders

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With record high temperatures hitting the west coast and a heat wave here on the east coast, it’s important to remember some safety tips in summer for your pooch.

Heat Concerns

I know my dog loves to lay in the sun. My old dog loved to lay on the hot pavement. These can cause major health problems. Long periods of sun exposure can cause overheating, skin cancer, and other health issues.

1. Find some shade for your dog to lay in!!

2. If you are hanging outside for a while with your dog, provide a bowl of water.

3. A small swim pool could be fun and a great way for your dog to cool off!

4. Don’t leave your dog outside in a dog house-it will overheat and trap hot air.

It gets very hot outside. I read somewhere that you should take your shoes off on a hot day and leave your feet on the pavement for a few seconds. If your feet burn, your dog’s feet will burn…don’t take them out on the asphalt or pavement then.

5. Take your dog for a walk in the early morning or evening, when it is cooler.

6. DON’T LEAVE YOUR DOG IN THE CAR!!

7. Since dogs are outside more often in the summer, make sure your dog has some kind of tick/flea preventative.

8. Keep your dog away from poisonous flowers/plants and chemically treated lawns.

9. Know the signs of heatstroke:

Early Signs:
-Heavy panting
-Bright red tongue and gums
-Fast breathing
-Having trouble balancing

Advanced Signs:
-Shock
-White/Blue gums
-Lethargy
-Uncontrollable urination or defecation
-Noisy breathing

Hopefully you have a fun and safe summer with these tips, but if you are worried your dog may have heatstroke you should do the following steps…
If your dog has signs of advanced heatstroke-take them to the vet immediately.
If your dog shows early signs try to cool your dog down:
-Give them ice chips to chew
-Hose them with cool water
-Apply ice packs to the groin area
When your dog’s temperature is between 100-102, stop trying to cool your dog down, they are stabilized.

Go Ahead, Treat Adults Like Children (They Just Don’t Get it!)

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Speak up for your pup because sometimes people don’t get the message!

It came to my attention this past weekend that I needed to treat my mom like a child when it comes to dogs.

Did I like treating her like a kid, repeating the same thing to her many times to ensure she would listen? No, absolutely not. Was it necessary? Definitely!

Many times we don’t always say what is on our mind when it comes to our dogs. We worry about what people might think of us, if they will be mad, laugh, or get upset with us if we do or say things that don’t seem “normal”. For example, this past weekend my parents were watching Oreo. My brother and sister-in-law were stopping over for a few minutes. I told my mom to put her in the bedroom when they came over. “It’s just Den and Lila, she’ll be fine,” was my mother’s response. “No, she won’t be fine. Please put her in the bedroom, it’s better to be safe than sorry,” I replied. “Oh come on Jess, don’t be ridiculous…” The conversation continued like this until I basically had to annoy her and get her to comply. Yes, she was doing us a favor watching the dog, but Oreo is a bite risk if left around strangers (she doesn’t see them much at all). I called the night before my brother was coming over to remind her. Did she get angry? YES! She told me not to treat her like a child, that she knows. I tried to explain why I reminded her, yet she didn’t quite understand.

That’s the point, PEOPLE DON’T HAVE TO UNDERSTAND. We need to stick up for our dogs and for what makes them comfortable or uncomfortable. They don’t have a voice, so we need to speak for them.

If I didn’t speak up to my mom Oreo could’ve easily bitten or had a bad experience that couldn’t worsened her reactivity. Maybe she would have been fine with them, but why risk it?

Sometimes we have to treat other people like children, beacause they just don’t get it. People who aren’t associated with dog training or have had a reactive/scared dog just don’t get it. What’s worse is that they don’t believe you. When you tell people your dog will NOT be okay in a certain situation you are most likely met with the comment, “Oh well she’ll be okay, don’t worry, it’ll be fine.” This is where you have to be your dogs’ protector. You can protect your pup many ways, but one of the most powerful ways is to speak up even if you feel uncomfortable. Trust me, things will work out better and after you have stuck up for your dog (even if you’ve offended someone) you will feel better and so will your dog.

So go ahead, treat someone like a child if they don’t understand. Stand up for your dog!

Doggy Bliss and How Your Fido Can Help Fight Depression

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We are going through the loss of my father-in-law right now and one thing that seems to always cheer us up is Oreo.

Dogs can lower your blood pressure and help depression. Just stroking your pet can lower your anxiety and stress levels.

Everyone has had a hard time in their life and if you’ve had a dog you know that they can sense it. They can see the slump in your shoulders or the fall in your face and read your body language to know your upset. Has your dog ever cheered you up? Licked your face while you cried? Snuggled next to you when you felt alone? Well, if so you have experience how wonderful dogs are for stress, anxiety, and depression.

-Research shows that many people smile more around dogs and feel more at ease.

-If you have a life where people are telling you what to do, how to do it, and when to do it-a dog can help you! Many people overwhelmed by complicated relationships find the companionship of a dog that loves you unconditionally very beneficial.

-Isolated people who are shutting the world out have a friend, their friendly fido.

-For someone who doesn’t have many friends, a dog can bring them many social contacts. Taking walks, dog classes and going to the park offer social opportunities.

-When you are depressed you may feel like doing nothing. However, if you have a pup you are forced to take some responsibility and have a schedule. You have to feed the dog, walk the dog, etc.

-This brings me to my next point-exercise. Exercise can help depression-people with dogs are more active as a whole.

-Dogs do many funny things, in turn this promotes laughter.

Dogs aren’t for everyone, especially people with severe depression. However, if you have a pup I bet you smile, laugh, and love more!

Oreo has been there for us through many rough times. She has laid next to my husband and I when we were sad. She’s licked our faces when we cried. After a rough day she has greeted us with wonderful wags and a happy face. When we were away visiting hospice my husband commented on how he wished Oreo could come with us (she is too scared to go to stranger’s houses). I asked him why and he responded, “She makes me happy.”

Do you have a personal story when your dog helped you feel better? Feel free to share!

During an Attack

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Today I’m going to cover what to do if you or your dog are attacked by another dog. Even if you believe it will never happen to you or your pup, you should still be ready in an emergency.

Before the dog attacks:

-Keep your eyes open on walks, scanning the area for stray or loose dogs. If you see one, head in the opposite direction.

-Do not run. If a dog is frozen in place looking at you and you decide to run, you lose. The dog will be more excited and definitely run after you. However, if the dog is already running towards you and you are close to your home or something that will help you, then running is the way to go.

When the dog is running towards you or stops and stares at you:

-Try commanding the dog into a sit or down.

-Make yourself really big. Outstretch your arms, get on your toes and yell for the dog to go home or stay.

When the dog is attacking or about to attack:
-Find a car-take your dog and yourself and stand on top of a car. This will give you shelter from a dog or at least an advantage since you are higher than the dog, and it’s unlikely (but definitely not impossible) that the dog will follow you.

-Take out that umbrella, pepper spray, or stun baton and use it if the dog is aggressively approaching (growling, tense stance, snarling, barking). Don’t wait until it’s too late-use the weapon BEFORE the dog latches onto you or your pup. Also, if I were you and you are considering buying pepper spray-either get dog pepper spray or bear pepper spray. You may wonder why bear spray? Let’s face it-all dogs aren’t the same and if you have a big strong dog in front of you, you want the best to protect yourself and your dog.

-If a dog attacks, it is advised that you curl up in a ball and play dead. However, if you are with your pup you can bet 9 out of 10 times the dog will be going after your pup first, not you. You need to defend yourself. Find a stick or something nearby to pick up and make yourself scary.

-The stick or something else like a bat, umbrella, yard stick-anything can come in handy when the dog is on you. You can use these to put between yourself or your dog-and the attacking dog. You could use your coat-take it off roll it up and shove it in the dog’s mouth.

-This is a personal choice-but if the dog is attacking you or your dog-I would personally offer my arm. I know it sounds horrible, but I’d rather have one arm attacked than my stomach, head, legs, or my pup. I will still have an arm and two legs to fight back. DO NOT pull your arm from the dog, it will only make it worse and rip your arm apart.

-If worst case scenario the dog is attacking you-it’s on you-go for the eyes try to poke it’s eyes or go for its throat by trying to choke it so it will stop attacking you.

-It may be unlikely depending where you are, but if there is a hose nearby or water-spray the dog in the face-they will be surprised and most likely stop attacking.

If the dog is attacking your puppy:
-Choke the dog. Get behind the dog and put your arm around the dog’s neck to choke it until it lets go. It may sound violent, but the attack itself is violent, and some dogs do NOT want to release, even if you are punching them. Believe me, from first hand experience punching a dog in the face, head or body usually does not work.

-Lift the back or front legs from the dog to unbalance the dog-you may surprise it and it will release. However, be prepared, it may turn on you.

-Use a break stick-something to wedge in the dog’s mouth to open it. Straddle the dog and lock your legs around the dog’s hips. Pull the dog by the collar to raise its’ head. Put the breaking stick in the opening of the dog’s mouth where the molar gap is located. Try to get it at least 1/2 inch to 2 inches inside the dog’s mouth. Turn the stick like a motorcycle handle. This will cause the dog to bite on the stick and release your pup or yourself from its’ grip.

The most effective thing is to always be aware of your surroundings on the walk. However, most times dog attacks are surprises. Usually dogs get out of an open gate, broken door, or are running free in a yard. Always take a walking stick, pepper spray, stun baton, umbrella, or something with you in case of an attack. Always be prepared. It isn’t hard to carry something with you, or just put some pepper spray in your pocket. Best to ALWAYS BE PREPARED.