Attacked by two dogs while walking my dog

dog attack walking dog

Walking a dog can be great exercise for you and your dog, but it can also make it difficult to effect your own personal defense.

In the past we have reviewed some of the potential concerns through a scenario titled “A lovely walk with the dog at dusk” where we described a situation where you a the victim of an attempted mugging by 3 individuals that set-up a clear shooting situation and addressed concerns about controlling the dog.

In that example, you are the intended victim but your pets can be the victim as well.

Attacked while walking my dog

Last night while walking my dog I was passing a dark, green space in my neighborhood and heard a dog owner yell a command at their dogs. I looked towards the sound and about a second later I see a 40-50 lb long-haired black dog crossing the street at just shy of a run, but focused on my dog.

It didn’t look dangerous, but not knowing its intention I stepped between it and my dog and gave it a front kick to the face to stop its progress. That was enough to get it to stop, and a step towards it got it to retreat. But as I started to move forward I could see a German Shepard Dog at full run breaking through the darkness, with an expression like the dog above and growling… again focused on my dog.

Given reaction time and free gloveless hands I may have shot the dog, but that wasn’t an option.

I used another front kick to force the dog wide and past us. I then used the lead to circle my dog to the left, again placing me between her and it. I barked “heh” at it, and it shifted its focus to me for a fraction of a second before beginning to return, still aggressive and focused on my dog. I then barked “heh” a second time to get it to pause and I kicked it again, which thankfully sent it running.

I then refocused on the 1st dog to verify it was still being submissive and saw the owner appear, from across the street and out of the darkness.

My 1st thought upon seeing him was “How is he going to react about me kicking both of his dogs in front of him?”

Thankfully he attempted to collect his dogs and immediately retreat.

This was an “exciting” event but it could have been much worse and it is a great example of many self-defense principles.

Seld-defense Lessons

1. Always be aware of your surroundings.

Normally when I walk Bailey at night I flash my flashlight across that green space to identify if there is anything hiding in the darkness. Last night however it was really cold, I was wearing big gloves and manipulating the small light was difficult; so I made the mistake of  assuming that any threats would stay inside and didn’t do it. FAIL

My neighborhood has both foxes and coyotes (and obviously other dogs) that could also be a threat. Now they tend to be skidish and avoid contact with people, but I should assume that they could be there.

2. Be prepared to act.

I was dressed for the cold, but I couldn’t have accessed my firearm if I wanted. The gloves I was wearing wouldn’t have fit in the trigger guard. My plan was to drop the gloves at the 1st sign of a threat, but a charging dog didn’t permit that to happen. FAIL

On the flip side, the charging dog would have also been too quick for me to draw and deliver anyway, so I would have needed to use unarmed methods 1st anyway and I moved to them without thought. WIN

3. Train your loved-one on how to respond.

I doubt we think of our pets when we think about training loved-ones, and I didn’t do it intentionally, but I’m glad it happened.

I walk Bailey on a 4′ lead which I keep looped over to about 18″. It is short enough that Bailey can’t sniff the ground without pulling.

She has been trained to ignore other people and dogs on our walk (except one friend ‘Rugby’), she also knows to sit when I stop, and is used to me putting her behind me when strange dogs approach. Because of this “training” she sat still while I moved around her and didn’t try to pull or run.

During the encounter I released the loop to give me room to move without hurting her, but looking back I probably could have dropped the lead if I needed too. WIN

4. Be aware of the threats intention.

Much of what I remember from the event involves my analysis of the risk. The 1st dog wasn’t aggressive and easily deterred, the German Shepard was aggressive and initially determined, the owner was scarred and embarrassed. I would have liked to draw on the charging German Shepard Dog but after dealing with the initial attack, there was no reason to. WIN

I was prepared to act as the owner approached, but his focus was on his dogs (which were now in the street) and not on me. Again there was no reason to draw. WIN

5. Scan for additional threats.

I didn’t have to look for the German Shepard Dog, it was in my field of view when dealing with the black dog, but I am happy I was able to not tunnel in on the original threat. When I was dealing with the second dog it had 100% of my focus, but when it started to turn tail I immediately searched for the black dog again and watched the field to identify anything else approaching… like the owner. WIN

It was a scary situation, but turned out the best way possible. I wasn’t hurt. Bailey wasn’t hurt. The other dogs and the owner are Ok. An I didn’t have to draw. WIN

Have you worked with your pets to train them how to react to a threat? And what do you do to prepare for your own self-defense on a walk?


  1. leupy says

    My only problem with this is you did not have your gun where you could get to it. What if it wasn’t a dog and it was an armed crazy person.

  2. says

    Ron, I had a similar experience recently. I was walking in my own neighborhood and suddenly there were two, medium size dogs (not as large as a shepherd, more like a chow) asserting themselves. The owner was standing in her front yard saying, “I don’t understand, I have a silent fence!” What to do. One snagged my left leg, puncturing my jeans and just scatting my leg. I’m not a young man at 58 years of age but I’m not a cripple. I kicked one dog and he moved back and the other seemed to retreat when I charged. I guess I never felt threatened enough to pull my gun. Everything happened so quickly. Finally the husband ran from the house and grabbed one do and I played kick the dogs head with the other. He backed off and followed the husband. I remember saying, and I regret it, “You lucky I didn’t shoot them!” Of course, a modern day LE type would have done that I have a hole in my jeans to remember it. But if I had actually pulled my gun, it would have been hell to pay in Crazifornia.

  3. Charlie Foxtrot says

    My two German Shepherds and I were attacked from behind by pit bull. California makes self defense difficult: no firearms, ASPs, clubs, etc. I did have my size twelves and Pepper Spray. I sprayed the dog across the eyes, which blinded and slowed, but didn’t stop the bastard. After several solid kicks to the head and body, the idiot owner finally came up and chased the pitt back to his yard, whining about my kicking. We got lucky: my female had a small bite on her rear leg tendon and I had wrenched my shoulder keeping the dogs away from the pit bull.

    I had a 20 minute walk back to my house, where I called the cops: after all, I had “discharged a weapon” in California. The cops couldn’t be bothered, and told me to call Animal Control. They took a report the next day, and cited the owner for letting his dog run free. They were also very interested in my Pepper Spray’s effectiveness, looking to purchase their own.

  4. Joe says

    A good post! Thank you for discussing where things went right and wrong. Sometimes there is a false perception in the firearms and preparedness communities that practitioners are immune to mistakes. It’s nice to see you sharing and learning from your experiences.

  5. KiA says

    wow. modern day Harold Fish! what a hero — walking around the neighborhood kicking dogs in the face. unfortunately dogs do not have the same level of rights nor are there severe penalties imposed for negligent behavior against them. this allows a buffoon such as yourself to assault or use deadly force on a dog without providing proof of sufficient expertise in dog behavior, or the element of jeopardy. you said “not knowing its intention … [i] gave it a front kick to the face”: if you used that excuse in a use-of-force case against a human, not only it’s highly likely that you’d be charged with criminal battery, but also socially reprimanded for the idiot you are.

    • Earl Cowher says

      You’re right Kia, any reasonable person with even a modicum of knowledge of animal behavior or selfe defense would have waited until his dog was torn open or maybe he himself needed reconstructive surgery and possibly rabies shots before he settled on the proper non-violent reaction to the attack

  6. Dan says

    DON’T SHOOT A DOG THAT IS ATTACKING YOUR DOG! Yes, my first instinct when seeing an attacking dog, may be to pull out my weapon. Here’s the problem. In most, if not all states, while it may be a legal, self defense shooting for you to shoot a dog if it is clearly about to attack YOU or another PERSON, it is NOT A LEGALLY JUSTIFIABLE REASON TO SHOOT TO PROTECT A DOMESTIC ANIMAL. My wife recently was walking our dog and the dog was attacked by a dog that got loose from it’s owners. It ran across the street and attacked him and required 146 stitches that night at the Pet ER. After the incident, I researched this dilemma – would it have been justifiable to shoot a clearly attacking dog to protect my dog? Remember, it was clearly NOT attacking my wife, just the dog. The answer, as far as I could find – NO. If my wife pulled out her gun and shot that dog – SHE MIGHT HAVE ENDED UP IN JAIL THAT EVENING for discharging a weapon without a justifiable cause. Yes, maybe she could have argued that she thought is was ‘coming right for her’, but again, it was clearly not. We love our dog, but not enough to go to jail for it. IT IS A GREAT RESPONSIBILITY OF US RESPONSIBLE CONCEALED CARRY HOLDERS TO KNOW WHEN IS A LEGALLY JUSTIFIABLE TIME TO PULL OUT AND USE OUR GUNS AND WHEN IS NOT. Remember, the owners of a dog that gets loose and attacks can be CIVILLY liable for your dog’s vet bills, but don’t let an incident like this involve criminal charges against YOU by pulling your weapon. Finally, I AM NOT A LAWYER, so consult your own state’s laws or an attorney to find out what applies to you.

  7. Rick S says

    My question for KiA would be, have you ever been attacked by a dog/human/wild animal?
    My guess would be no. I have, by two of the above. 1st came from a friends pit bull. This was a great dog I knew very well, played with all the time. One night my friend and I were returning to her house and due to heavy rain we ran to the door together and once she got the door unlocked I followed closely behind. Fido was there waiting to greet us. I will never forget seeing the switch go off in his eyes. He went from happy dog to kill in a split second. Luckily for me I already had my arm up while getting a back pack off my shoulder because the first lunge was aimed at my throat. He got my elbow instead. Three things gave me the chance to distance myself from that situation. 1. A slippery tile floor, he slipped trying for the second lunge. 2. I pulled a “Ron Larimer” and planted my boot firmly on his nose. 3. And finally, the unexpectedly strong push I got from my friend as she pushed me back out of the house (minus one boot) and shut the front door. I gave serious consideration to destroying that dog with the shotgun that was in my trunk. But standing there outside the door I had just walked through soaking wet with the one shoe I had left, wondering what to do about the new holes in my arm I realized two things. That dog was just doing his job of protecting his owner from someone he saw as a threat, (me being so close to her trying to get out of the rain, not to mention I had the hots for her. And secondly, I had just pissed my pants. My second attack came from a human. Its a great story but so bizarre and surreal I will save it for another time.
    To this day I don’t know what that guy was thinking. The point I’m getting at is that it seems to me that people who have never been put in situations where they start thinking “is this how I go out” i.e. scared out of their wits always have similar attitudes as the response from KiA. I refer to it as the insulated bubble where every thing is fair and nothing bad happens. As a live and let live kind of guy and animal lover (especially dogs) I strongly believe in animal rights. And heaven help the person I catch mistreating an animal. But, rights or no rights I will defend my self or a loved one from an attack of any kind. It’s not hero stuff. It’s me or Ron Larimer exercising our rights of not being attacked. As for my friend with the dog, she threw me my other boot also with new holes from the window and promised to call me the next day.


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