A Conversation for Dogs

Unfriendly dogs

Post 1

Cheerful Dragon

Apparently, if a dog is barking it is less likely to bite than if it is just growling. 'His bark is worse than his bite' is grounded in fact. Personally, I wouldn't risk it either way.

Unfriendly dogs

Post 2

Mr. Tuvai

A dog wagging its tail is excited, but not always friendly. Quite often dogs growl and snap at someone they don't like, with tails waving back and forth like Ross Perot's decision to run for office.

Also, if a dog is running towards you exhibiting one or more signs of unfriendliness, it's probably about to try to bite. This can be circumvented by taking a long sleeve (pulled past your hand so your arm isn't inside), jacket, backpack strap, suitcase, or anything else that isn't part of your body and jamming it into the dog's mouth as it attacks. The dog will bite it, assume it's part of you, hang on (probably), shake it the vestigal motion to break its neck, and you'll get a very good look at why you don't want to be bitten by a dog. It is vitally important that you do not let go of the object, as the dog will then realize it hasn't bitten its intended target and try again, with often painful results. While you are in fact still attached to an angry dog, it isn't biting you, after all, and you can still call for help or kick the dog in the head a few times.

Unfriendly dogs

Post 3

Classic Krissy

Actually, if a dog already has a hold on you, the best thing you can do is the hardest thing to do in that situation. You need to lay down and not move.

Most dogs attack in an effort to "bring you down" like they would a larger preditor or prey. Once you're down and offer no resistance, the dog will figure he's gotten the better of you (which, let's face it, he has) and let go.

Another behaviour that is considered agressive is staring a dog right in the eyes. If you know the dog very well, this can be a safe thing, never ever stare directly into the eyes of an unknown animal even if he's wagging his tail, etc. Also, be careful if the owners say that it's a "nice" dog. When offering your hand, the article is right in saying to offer your hand below the dog's mouth, but also offer it palm down so that the back of your hand (or fist) is a flat plane for the dog to sniff. Any dog that has been hit before will associate a strange palm with a coming hit and bite automatically. An owner may not be afraid of anything like that happening to them from their own dog, but that often is not necessarily true with strangers.

Mostly, dogs love people. And I love dogs. smiley - smiley

Unfriendly dogs

Post 4

Cheerful Dragon

Apparently the 'tail-wagging' thing in dogs means exactly what it does in cats - uncertainty. A cat swishes its tail from side to side when it is unsure what to do next, so does a dog. Your dog will be pleased to see you when you get home, but you're bigger than he is so he's unsure of how best to approach you, hence the tail-wagging. It applies to other situations, too, so it's quite possible for an unfriendly dog to wag its tail as it approaches you.

Unfriendly dogs

Post 5

Mr. Tuvai

I kind of feel bad for not listing the bit about offering a hand the back of the hand up instead of an outstretched hand to an unknown dog in my first post. Glad you covered it.

Fully extending the hand is bad. A flat hand will fit neatly into a dog's mouth if it chooses to bite. A fist doesn't (unless the dog is ~really~ big), but if the dog thinks you're about to punch it, it may take countermeasures and/or fingers.

Unfriendly dogs

Post 6


The thing about tail-wagging is that you have to look at the whole posture of the dog: A friendly dog will accompany the wagging tail with other "waggly" motions of the back, and lowering of the head or even bowing. The legs will be shifting and pawing the ground.The ears may be down a bit, but not back.

An unfriendly dog will also wag the tail, but the back and legs will be very straight. The ears will be either straight up or pulled back against the head, and the tail will wag in a strict rythm, like a metronome on a piano. If you see a dog doing that, stay away from it.

Unfriendly dogs

Post 7

Norman. (Marvins cousin, same diode problem, different sized brain !)

This buisiness about not looking an unknown dog in the eyes is quite right. There are two main theories for this, both of which sound quite feasable. One is that by staring the dog in the eyes the dog feels that you are either threatening it ir chalenging it. The second is more subtle. Dogs are pack animals & each pack has a dominant member known as the Alpha dog. Because he is the boss, the Alpha dog walks amongst the pack without having to mind where he goes. If a subordinate dog gets in his way he reminds it who is boss. This is one of the ways he remains the pack leader. The Alpha dog does not need eye contact with the other dogs but they need eye contact with him to watch and keep out of his way. By making eye contact with him they are signalling that they are subordinate and by being aggressive towards them the Alpha signalls that he is boss. People who are scared of dogs tend to fix eye contact, this is one of the reasons that people who get bitten once tend to get bitten next time too.

Unfriendly dogs

Post 8

Cheerful Dragon

Slightly off the subject, but eye contact with cats is another interesting area. If you make eye contact with a cat and keep staring at it, one of two things will happen. If the cat is unsure of itself it will look away and may turn its back on you. If its sure of itself, you will get into one hell of a staring match. I guarantee that you'll get fed up and look away first. Been there, done that!

Cats are territorial. The eye contact / staring thing is a bloodless battle for the right to the territory the cats are in. If the cat is unsure of itself, it will break the eye contact. If it feels really intimidated, it will turn its back or walk away to avoid your / the other cats gaze. If it feels sure of itself, it won't quit.

Unfriendly dogs

Post 9


I was a postman for a year, and dog attacks are taken pretty seriously. The advice they give you ties in with a lot of what's been said - don't make eye contact, keep relaxed. I can personally vouch that this works, if you can pull it off.

However, if the situation has developed into an actual attack, we were given a few delightful tips.

1 If the dog has your hand in it's mouth the best thing to do is force your hand down it's throat. It will do anything to leave you alone once this happens.

2 Grab it hard by the b******s and squeeze. This would require a deft touch indeed.

3 If a large dog jumps up and has it's front paws on your shoulders, pull it's front legs apart. This crushes the chest and lungs and causes a lot of damage.

Sorry to be so graphic - I'm a dog owner myself and writing this entry has made me feel rather depressed. Still, just passing on information. How many times these tactics have been deployed and with what success would be interesting - if rather morbid - reading.

Unfriendly dogs

Post 10


I've had some pretty bad luck with dogs in the past year and I've noticed a couple of things. One is that small dogs are worse than big dogs. I assume that it is the need to defend themselves more than the confident big dogs. The next thing is that you can tell if a dog is hostile (sometimes) by the way it runs in your direction. If it is running AT you then you better be careful, if it is running to you then you have nothing to worry about.
BTW do you know how to avoid a dog attack altogether?

Unfriendly dogs

Post 11


A lot of whar's been said fits my experience.

I've never been attacked and I'm convinced part of the reason is that I'm confident around dogs.

Small dogs tend to be quite vocal and this puts people on the defensive. The dog senses this and gets more confident that it can dominate you. This begins a bad cycle that can have unfortunate results if the owner is not to hand.

Small dogs also tend to have been bred to kill (rabbiting and such) which means they are more likely to have aggression in the breed.

Larger dogs tend to have been bred to collect fallen prey or herd farm animals which gives us humans a degree of control.

All of this goes out of the window if a dog has had a bad encounter with humans, most notably if the dog was young when this happened.

I'm the proud owner of 2x8 month old, large breed dogs. If you don't know them and hear them playing, you would think they are trying to kill each other. Yet, if one yelps because they've been unintentionally caught, both stop immediately. Our dog trainer was , initially, one of the few people who recognised this. As most dog owners only own one dog, they don't normally see this behaviour.

Unfriendly dogs

Post 12


A dog that bares its teeth may not neccessarily be acting aggressively, as dogs sometimes 'smile' as a submissive gesture. Similarly ears back on a dog can mean submissiveness: flat back against the head indicates aggression, back but droopy shows submission.

I can thouroughly recommend 'How to speak dog', by Stanley Coren as a fascinating and comprehensive guide to a dog's body language.

While I'm on I can also attest to the effectiveness of the 'Amichien Bonding' type of training written about by Jan Fennell in 'The Dog Listener' it works like a charm.

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