Animal Care & Welfare: Canine Confrontations
Rex got jumped at the beach a few weeks ago. As we arrived, I used the Chuck-it to throw his ball, and as Rex ran after his ball, from the far corner of the beach came a 150 pound un-neutered Mastiff. As Rex was bringing the ball back to me, the Mastiff approached Rex from behind and bit down on Rex’s head, leaving bleeding wounds in his neck and ear.
What do you do in this situation?
Because there are so many possible scenarios when it comes to one dog attacking another, there are just as many advisable ways to respond.
Staying calm is easier said than done, but don’t scream or create a shrill noise (like blowing a dog whistle) which just adds to the aggressive excitement. If you’re able, create a ‘shield’ between your dog and the aggressive dog- twirl the end of your leash to create a ‘windmill’ in front of your dog or use something like a bag or umbrella to shield your dog and break the other dog’s focus. You can step in front of your dog, and try to quietly steer your dog away, or you might need to add an assertive ‘No!’ or ‘Go Home!’ command. I talked to Sage, the Shelter Supervisor in the Animal Care Services Center in Ukiah, and she said one way to possibly prevent a dog attacking your dog is by using citronella spray, which is “harmless, but intimidating”.
I asked Tantah, at Village Veterinary in Mendocino, what to do and she said, “If there is an active confrontational situation, call 911.” What if you’d like to press charges, file a report or get financially reimbursed for the vet bill? Tantah says to call Animal Control out of the Mendocino County Sheriff’s office in Ukiah at 707-463-4427. Your options depend on what information you have on the owner and the dog- are they willing to take responsibility or did you have to get a license plate number as they drove off?
In no way could I ever recommend intervening in a dog fight. It’s never recommended to reach in and grab your dog by the collar. If two people are present, it might be possible to each grab one dog by the back legs to pull them apart, or even slip a leash around one dog’s abdomen to pull it away from the other dog... but, of course, it’s possible to be bit by one of the dogs yourself.
As for the Mastiff, I was able to step in between him and Rex. I extended my Chuck-it toward him and I delivered a very large and deep “NO!” Thankfully, the dog turned away and began evading the owner, who had run up and was trying to catch her dog.