wild dog


The animal which causes the most injuries in America is the domestic dog. Every year, over 4 million Americans are injured by pet dogs. This makes dogs the most dangerous animal in America. To be fair, however, we surely have far more encounters with pet dogs than we do with all wild animals combined. Yet, with millions of documented attacks every year, we should not lightly discount the possible threat. And we can add to our encounters with pet dogs, the possible encounters with non-pet canines.

Stray dogs- these are dogs that have at one time been domesticated, but have been dumped or lost. They may, or may not, seek re-socialization with humans. Their response to human encounters is always uncertain. They understand that humans may offer a potential food source, and might seek some interaction with humans. They may have lost trust in humans, however, and may view any encounter as a threat. We should always view any and every encounter with a stray dog as a possible threat to our safety.

Wild dogs- these include coyotes, wolves, and foxes. Attacks by wild dogs are rare, but they do happen, particularly if you are alone and trigger an attack by falling or running. Experts tell us that if we are hiking, we should sing or talk to ourselves. Because, apparently, wild dogs and bears try to avoid crazies out wandering aimlessly through the woods. Coyotes and wolves can also mate with domestic dogs, producing half-breeds, which can carry the predatory instincts of the wild dog, but have less fear of humans.

Feral dogs- these are dogs that are born in the wild, and have never been domesticated by humans. While wild dogs are generally considered to have no domesticated ancestors, feral dogs are descended from domesticated dogs. Feral dogs generally try to avoid contact with humans, but usually have no fear of them. Feral dogs are considered to be more dangerous than either strays or wild dogs. They are much more likely to attack, if they feel threatened, than stray dogs. Feral dogs may, or may not, live in packs.

To avoid being a victim of a canine attack, the first rule is to never approach a strange dog. Any dog that doesn’t recognize a relationship with you, is a potential attacker. Backing a strange dog into a corner, chasing it, or invading its space, can provoke an attack. Trying to pet a dog, may be viewed by the dog as an act of aggression.

If you experience a potential attack by any canine, stay calm. Both fear and aggression can intensify the dog’s fury. Do not run away or turn your back on them. Back away slowly while turned slightly away from the dog. Advise is conflicting for whether or not to make eye contact, so whichever you do is probably wrong.

If the dog attacks, try to put some object between you and the animal (a jacket, stick, purse, or the fat guy you tried to feed to the bear). If it charges, use sticks or rocks as weapons, and aim for the eyes and throat (so, if you’re trying to maintain eye contact, how can you look around for rocks and sticks?). (Read also- Should You Carry a Gun In Your RV?)

Some advise offering a forearm (if you’re lucky it won’t sever an artery), because it leaves three limbs free to counter-attack (an entire pack of wolves?) and protect your face and stomach. After the attack, if you’re still alive, notify the police and animal control, and consult a doctor about rabies and other deadly diseases carried by dogs (good luck).

Once, when I was a kid, we camped at a roadside park. Just after breakfast, we were getting ready to leave, and a pack of six hungry dogs showed up. They were very aggressive, and didn’t respond with any show of appreciation to the leftovers, and resisted any offer of affection. My parents remarked at how strange these dogs acted. They were obviously feral dogs, or perhaps strays that had lost their domesticated social skills. It is probably fortunate that we were too ignorant to display fear, and had food to readily offer them.

Stay safe.

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