Outdoor Recreation Participants and Feral Dog Attacks

Outdoor sports risks

What to do if confronted by an individual or pack of wild dogs

Many of our sports and recreation clients often find themselves in areas where there is potential for feral dog attacks. With your safety in mind, we have compiled a list of our top tips to help you protect yourself in the event of an attack.

The pack mentality

American love their pets! So much so that 39 percent of households in the U.S. own at least one dog and 75 percent of those dogs are spayed or neutered. Despite the number of responsible pet owners, the number of feral dogs roaming among both rural and urban areas is increasing.  The past decade of economic instability has forced many shelters to turn away pets whose owners can no longer afford to care for them.

In Detroit, the solution some dog owners found is to allow their animals to roam the streets as a means of supplementing their diets. These dogs tend to form packs. This proved such a danger to postal carriers that consideration has been given refusing mail service in neighborhoods with proven records of feral dog attacks.

Rural areas have proven to fare no better in the fight against wild dogs. The pack mentality is such that it has allowed these animals to team up and kill livestock to the tune of some $37 million annually. While some farmers have banded together in an attempt to eradicate these feral packs, there is no sign of the problem going away.

What NOT to do:

  • Making eye contact is viewed as a challenge.
  • Standing directly in front of a feral dog is considered an attack position and only serves only to increase their aggression.  Stand off to one side instead.
  • Running invites dogs to give chase. Animals are acutely perceptive of our body language, and projecting fear sends send the message that you are weak prey.
  • Turning your back leave you totally vulnerable.

Preventive measures to take

Carry repellant and/or a weapon (baseball bat, large stick, knife, etc) when walking  Not only will this serve as protection, but it can also be used to distract the animal should an attack occur.

Remain calm and stay in command of the situation. Hold your position.  Waving your arms around and shouting isn’t a guaranteed method of intimidation. In fact, it’s an invitation for the dog to bite you if it’s feeling threatened.

Find higher ground Whether you can climb a tree or a dumpster, get out of their reach.

If you can’t get away or distract the dog with an object and the dog attacks, gouge an eye. A blow to the throat also works well. Another strategy is to curl up into a ball on your stomach and use your hands to cradle your neck as protection for your most vulnerable areas and try to remain still.  it may help to end the attack.


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