How do you tackle a dangerous dog?

By July 12, 2012July 12th, 2021News and Press

The story of James Rehill’s death, mauled by his own rottweiler, has a horrible familiarity to it. It is only a month since Archie-Lee Hirst was killed by a family pet of the same breed; in the intervening time, a dog kennel worker, Mandy Peynado, had to have her arm amputated after a savage attack by a stray with predominantly rottie traits…

Zoe Williams
Wednesday January 30, 2008
The Guardian

The story of James Rehill’s death, mauled by his own rottweiler, has a horrible familiarity to it. It is only a month since Archie-Lee Hirst was killed by a family pet of the same breed; in the intervening time, a dog kennel worker, Mandy Peynado, had to have her arm amputated after a savage attack by a stray with predominantly rottie traits. This emphasis on breed is misleading – all dogs can be dangerous, given the wrong training and the right conditions. But rottweilers, along with bull breeds, have extremely strong jaws, and it will give even the most hardboiled dog-lover pause to note that nearly 20 people went to help Rehill, and none were able to get the dog off him. So if a dog is attacking someone else, what technique should you use?

Behaviourist and trainer Stan Rawlinson (doglistener.co.uk) says, first of all, “Don’t try to grab the dog’s head, because you could get redirected aggression.” Instead, follow the techniques you would use to break up a dog fight, namely: “Lift the dog’s hindquarters off the ground and then drag it backwards by the tail. This will confuse the dog and may cause it to relax its grip. For dogs without tails, don’t drag by the hind legs, as the dog can easily turn around and bite the person holding it.”

You can also throw a blanket or a coat over the dog’s head, or you can spray it with water, though this is not always effective and will probably not be fast enough unless you have a hose on you. Rawlinson says he personally would use the hindquarters method, with the option of going nuclear with a kick in the groin. Things are much harder if the dog is attacking you – bear in mind that movement stimulates their prey drive, so stay as still as possible, having first curled into a ball with your arms over your head.