How to Fight a Dog (and win)

choking out a dogWe’ve heard a bit about our criticism of Tarek Hassani, the cowardly cop who, by his own admission, was so pissing-himself terrified of a barking black lab that he had to shoot the dog to get control of himself.

Sure, that’s optimal police work.

The fact is, anybody can fight a dog and win. Dogs mess with humans at thier own peril; even without guns, we are the apex predator on this planet. It’s all a matter of mindset. You don’t need to be Fearless Fosdick, you just need to have a couple of hands, a plan, and more courage than Tarek Hassani, and you can probably substitute more courage than that for one of the hands.

Facts about dogs:

  1. Anybody can fight any dog and win.
  2. Normal dogs do not fight to the death.
  3. Adults killed by a single dog are extremely rare outliers.
  4. The only part of the dog that can hurt you is the teeth.
  5. The dog is extremely vulnerable in the neck area.
  6. If it is a fight to the death, expect to get bitten… don’t let it distract you.

Dogs bark for many reasons, depending in part on how the dog is socialized and trained. A dog that is beaten or abused is more likely to bite. A dog that is confined and afraid — like a dog on a chain in a yard — is quite likely to bite. A bite will hurt, but you will not die from a dog bite.

How a dog fights

Dogs are, genetically, wolves; in a pack they are dangerous but one on one they are much less so. Even alone, they fight like pack animals. They run around and try to distract you and get behind you. A vicious dog, behind you, may go for a hamstring. Dogs make darting, slashing attacks and break contact. Dogs fight dogs naturally, but they do not fight to the death, only for dominance. A human who has been knocked down by a dog or a pack of dogs may trigger predation behavior, but one who remains upright and takes the fight to the dog  will always prevail.

To fight the dog

It helps to have protection on your weak hand forearm; you can then offer that as a target for the dog. Even without protection, offering the weak hand leaves the dog vulnerable to your strong hand. If you get him to snap at that, you have him right where you want him. Get his neck with your strong hand and overturn him.

Your objective is to get him on his back, with you astride him, and both hands on his neck. In this position he cannot bite you and you can choke him out. If you don’t want to kill the dog, you can just choke him. If you do want to kill him, crush his windpipe; end of dog. In fact, in most cases, the dog will give up when overturned by someone who has a grip on his neck.

This is normally how dog-vs-dog fights end; one dog wins, one submits. That doesn’t mean you let the dog up at this point: he may decide he wants an instant rematch, and fighting a dog over and over gets old quickly. Like humans, healthy dogs have a great deal of potential endurance.

There are several other ways to overturn the dog. When grappling, remember that the dog needs three of his four legs to stand upright. Reach under the dog, grab the diagonally opposite leg, and pull towards you. Congratulations: you have just executed a perfect judo or wrestling takedown of the dog.

Dogs are muscular and their spines very flexible; the dog will fight hard, and when he realizes it’s life-or-death game on, he will fight even harder, pulling out all his reserves. But odds are you outweigh him; you have opposable thumbs; you are much more intelligent; you are the apex predator.

You will get clawed. That goes with the territory (and if you take too long in the “dancing phase” before getting on Fido’s neck, you may have some nips to the extremities). The claws can’t seriously hurt you. You have to ignore the clawing while you’re choking the dog out. Once the dog is down, get treatment for the claw scratches, which are prone to infection.

Disclaimer

No dogs were harmed in the making of this post. The poodle got an extra treat for posing for the picture.

10 thoughts on “How to Fight a Dog (and win)

  1. Air

    A dog’s paws are very sensitive. Squeezing one hard will draw it’s attention there while you attempt to gain control elsewhere. This worked for me once with a dog gone wild, he released the death grip on my hand and started nipping at my hand w/ paw. I was able to straddle the 90 lb crazy Golden Retriever and control his trashing head. I would be interested in knowing if it will work for a trained K-9.

    1. Kerodin

      The paw trick will work with dogs that are NOT hard-wired by Mother Nature to have an “On” switch. Bulldogs, bull terriers, Akitas, Rottys, etc – these dogs all click on at some point and become so singularly-focused you can hit them with a brick and unless you do physiological damage, they won’t quit. With a hardcore breed if you are in a scrap your best bet if you don’t want to kill it or hurt it badly is to get it on its back. Sometimes it’ll work – sometimes not. I’ve never had to kill an unruly dog, and hope I never do. As trite as it may sound – strong pepperspray will often work to change a dogs mind where brute force won’t.

  2. Y.

    Are there dogs smart enough or trained enough to not bite into the proffered, weak arm wrapped in something but go for the neck?

    1. Hognose Post author

      Dogs will instinctively go for the neck (throat) or the belly. They do not seem to have the catlike predator instinct for the back of the neck kill bite. They also go instinctively for hamstrings (the tendon between the calf muscle and end of the calcaneus or kneebone. Thanks to a parachute mishap I know way too much about calcaneus anatomy).

  3. Bryan

    A dog bite to the hand or arm won’t kill you, no. But it can (quite easily) cause you to permanently lose some of that arm/hand’s function. I’ve seen way too many people with 20% usage of a hand for the rest of their lives because they did the “let it sniff your hand” to an aggressive looking dog and it grabbed on a shook once or twice. Bam, permanent disability in a half second. And that wasn’t even a real attack, that was just a quick defensive action then they back off. Actually having an attacking one latch on rather than a snippy one giving you a “warning” can do even more.

    Basically: the idea behind this article seems to be that you should try to tussle with an attacking dog rather than use deadly force even when you have deadly force available to you. Sorry, but no.

    Learn to identify a truly aggressive/attacking dog vs. one that’s just running up to get pet vs. one that’s just being “aggressive” defensively and won’t attack if you don’t encroach? Sure. That’d be a great idea so that you don’t harm dogs that aren’t gonna harm you. But if that dog actually is trying to attack you…end the engagement as quickly as possible and before it can get jaws on you if you are able. No dog’s life is worth permanently losing function in your limbs.

    1. Graw

      Well, at the very least, you and Hognose can agree you shouldn’t hold a hand next to a dog’s nose.

      1. Hognose Post author

        Not when you can have it wrapped around the dog’s throat! Then his heart and mind will follow. Or they won’t — but it won’t matter, cause you still have him by the stacking swivel.

  4. Hognose Post author

    It looks like there’s a Sheriff in Texas who agrees with me. A jumpy Deputy who shot a dog and wounded it (and then backed off in terror, calling for backup) has gotten the well-deserved sack:

    http://www.guns.com/2014/04/26/dashcam-footage-of-texas-deputy-that-shot-homeowners-dog-video/.

    This dog “attack” seems pretty typical. The dog is wagging her tail and jumps down, not aggressively, but in dog-greeting mode.

    This is one of the exceptions to the rule where the video usually clears a cop. Most of the action is off camera, but the audio on the video condemns the deputy.

    In Texas, for crying out loud, he shot a guy’s dog. And worse, apparently the guy was not a suspect, but a complaining victim.

    One hopes Deputy Dawg will now get a job in which his his personal level of fortitude finds a better fit. One door closes, another swings open. And maybe he can get a dog so it’s not such a mystery to him.

  5. Bill K

    I used to do many a long distance run, getting accosted by a number of dogs, some of which would bare their fangs and run out into the street at me. Only once did one actually attack when I faced him, crouched a bit and made like the Incredible Hulk with my hands high and wide in the air. I generally ran with nothing to protect the weak hand forearm and so relied on threats alone, complete with growls of my own. And even this dog waited until I thought I was safe, turned to resume running, and then went after my Achilles. I actually just wopped him hard with the side of my palm and he backed off. My subsequent lap around the neighborhood was equipped with a small baseball bat, but the first encounter was enough, and after that he just growled.

    I would think it would be different with a trained attack dog. This brings to mind the YouTube video of a criminal shooting at police with a car in between. An officer released his K-9, and it was amazing to see how fast that dog sprinted, covering what appeared to be about 50 feet in 3 or 4 bounds, leaped completely over the roof of the car, and with one more 20 foot bound had the criminal’s forearm in his teeth. I’m not sure I could have handled that German Shepherd. I forget where I saw that video, perhaps here quite some time ago.

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