One of our clients’ dogs just got attacked by a loose dog in the neighborhood while they were out for a bike ride. The dog was 90+ pounds and the attack lasted several minutes.

This is such a scary situation, and it’s one you hope never happens to you, but it does happen. Fortunately, her dog has a great foundation from all the early training and socialization we did, so I’m sure he’ll be fine. We’ll be putting him with a balanced dog ASAP to remind him that that was an isolated incident and not all dogs are scary.

What to carry with you:

I highly recommend carrying an air horn to scare off a potential threat and a slip lead. You can use the slip lead to loop it around the dog’s neck then pull it through the handle to make a makeshift noose. Lift straight up and choke the dog off your dog. That’s the best way to stop a fight. Most dogs don’t have collars, and leashes are sometimes too thick to apply enough pressure to get the dog off. Slip leads are your best bet.

Once you have the dog off, hold him away from you. Dogs in that red-zone state will often bite at whatever they can reach so keep your hands and legs away from the dog! And give your dog a command like sit or down if you’re alone so your dog doesn’t come over to you.

dog behavior rehabilitation

What to do after an attack:

If your dog gets attacked, try to stay calm. As soon as you get the dog off yours, take your dog somewhere safe and check him over for wounds.

If he’s physically okay, muster the strength to continue staying calm and try to reset the situation. Give your dog some treats, finish your walk…do not coddle him or freak out. It only makes it all that much worse for your dog. If your dog is not physically okay, stay calm and take him to the vet.

In both situations, get your dog around a calm, balanced and trustworthy dog ASAP.

The aftermath:

If you properly socialized your dog, he will be okay. One isolated incident won’t ruin your dog for life. He may need a little bit of training/positive socialization to get back on track, but he’ll be okay. If you did not socialize your dog properly, the damage can be much worse.

(For more on proper socialization, read this article.)

Reach out to a professional trainer right away if your dog gets attacked. We will help you.

And finally, always go talk to the owner. Talk about what happened. Ask them to pay the vet bill if there is one (some people will, most won’t). Hold them responsible for their dog’s behavior. And if you feel this was not a one-time thing, call the cops and report the incident.

In closing:

Bad things happen to good dogs. I hope this never happens to you, but if it does it’s good to have a game plan in mind.