Concealed Carry & Home Defense

CCW Weekend: What To Do If You Are Attacked By A Dog

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By Sam Hoober, Alien Gear Holsters

Believe it or not, you’re about as likely to have to use a carry gun to put down an aggressive dog as you are an aggressive human. The nature of certain members of the latter specie certainly confirms that there are violent tendencies in some of the breed, but the former does as well.

Start looking at reports of defensive gun uses and you’ll find just almost as many instances of someone having to draw from their concealed carry holster and shoot a dog that’s attacking them, their own dog or livestock, or worse still a child.

Google “aggressive dog” and you’ll find plenty of examples so there’s no need to list any recent ones here.

Much like defending oneself against two-legged critters, it behooves a person to know about what to do with four-legged threats.

As far as dealing with proximate threats, the one thing is the same as it is with a human. Draw, aim and shoot if and only if there is a legitimate threat, and aim for the head or chest cavity. Just because it’s an animal rather than a human doesn’t mean that the same rules don’t apply.

The threat must be real; ability, opportunity and jeopardy as well as a reasonable fear of being mauled (or someone else being mauled) or worse has to be there or, just like with dealing with an aggressive person. Barking alone is not sufficient, but if the dog is clearly charging with hostile intentions, that’s something else.

This also applies to wildlife, as mere presence of a dangerous animal is not sufficient reason to kill it. While only a few of the lower 48 states have grizzly bears (confirmed in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming; purported tiny and isolated populations in Washington state and Colorado) there are plenty of critters that can seriously injure or kill you including black bear, bison, moose, wolves, cougars and snakes. I couldn’t find any records of anyone gored to death by an elk, but people have been gored or battered by them and there’s little doubt they’d be up to the task.

Be sure to know your state and local laws regarding dog attacks. Many states allow for lethal force to be employed against an animal attacking your pet or livestock, so this is something to be aware of.

If you live in a neighborhood with some known aggressive dogs, check local ordinances regarding problem animals. Most mid-size to large metro areas have laws regarding nuisance or dangerous animals, so be sure to check municipal by-laws.

Often, they have a tiered penalty system. After enough complaints (or worse, a bite) the owner of a nuisance dog can be court-ordered to purchase special liability insurance (which isn’t cheap) obtain a permit for a nuisance or problem dog (also not cheap) and muzzle the animal in public. After successive complaints, a problem dog can eventually be sentenced to euthanasia, especially if an attack is involved.

If this is the case, he or she with the paperwork controls the narrative. If you register a complaint with authorities about a problem animal, this establishes a paper trail. Should the animal get off a leash or escape a house and cause real problems, they have a record.

If you are concerned about an aggressive dog in the neighborhood, making some sort of complaint to the city council or police will get it into the record. You may wish to speak to the owner first, of course as it is courteous. Granted, plenty of dog owners (indeed, people in general) are not reasonable about this sort of thing (or anything at all) so if they’re a known crank, report away with a clear conscience.

A common occurrence is for a loose dog to attack another dog on a leash. If this happens, do not try to get between the two dogs. If you believe you can resolve the attack without shooting, run around to the rear end of the attacking dog and pick it up by the rear legs or by scooping your arm under the haunches in front of the rear legs and start turning around in a circle, in the opposite direction of the head. This gives you a good hold and their front legs aren’t strong enough to overpower the typical person. If possible, start spinning until you can toss the aggressive dog and reassess the threat.

In the event that you have to shoot, call authorities. Controlling the narrative is important. Just as if you have to pull a gun to ward off a robber, mugger or carjacker, he (or she) that contacts law enforcement first is the one whose information they begin to act on. Therefore, endeavor for it to be yours.

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Sam Hoober is Contributing Editor for, a subsidiary of Hayden, ID, based Tedder Industries, where he writes about gun accessories, gun safety, open and concealed carry tips. Click here to visit