Dog Attack: 6 More Things NOT to Say

The trauma and drama of the dog attack continues here. Most people really don’t understand what a dog attacked BFD really is. For many people, this is life changing. After posting Dog Attack: 5 Things NOT to Say, other dog attack survivors shared their pet peeves. Here’s a roundup of other comments or suggestions that don’t help. Also, the story of an aggressive dog in my past.


More Comments You Absolutely Should NOT Make After a Dog Attack

1. “Hang on.”

I’ve been guilty of telling friends this in other scenarios – life stresses, big diagnoses, chronic illnesses, breakups, etc. I am working on removing the expression from my vocabulary. I know it’s meant to be supportive, but when you’re already snagged by a really tight wire, it sounds hollow. Let’s all stop saying it in any context.

2. “If you had been more alpha, this wouldn’t have happened.”

STFU. STFU. STFU with the outdated, totally debunked, scientifically bogus pack leader BS. If you don’t understand why this whole concept is the biggest crap, please read up on the subject. I suggest this article by Pat Miller, which reads in part… “Why every mention of ‘alpha dogs’ or ‘dominant’ dogs is dangerous for all dogs.” In fact, chances are that at least some aggressive dogs have been trained using punishment and intimidation, which only makes things worse. Think of it like this – punishment dog training is like domestic violence towards dogs. This damages the dog and makes it more (not less) likely that the dog will bite or attack.

3. “This has never happened before.”

Ahhh, denial. The problem with dog bite records is that dog bites and dog attacks are vastly underreported because many of them happen at home or with friends/family by known dogs or because other people don’t want the dog to “get in trouble”. In other words, just because there isn’t an official record of a previous dog bite or attack doesn’t mean there haven’t been other incidents. I’m also pretty sure that dog bite records aren’t shared across jurisdictions in many places, so if a dog is moving, their bite records might not go with them. In Colorado, however, some dangerous dogs are listed on a statewide registry.

Yes, of course, there is a first time for everything. Handled correctly, this should also be the LAST time, but it’s often not because people don’t take it seriously, take responsibility for the danger certain dogs pose, and take steps to fix the problem to keep others safe.

For about 10 days many years ago we had a dog that started showing aggression towards me and our other dog at the time. Luckily, he never bit or attacked per se, but he easily could have. After one particularly scary incident, a wise friend told me to get this dog out of my house before he hurt me. We took him back to the shelter. They euthanized him. Heartbreaking as it was. It was 100% the right decision for this dog. He was dangerous because he was in pain. Emotional suffering is always suffering. We rest dogs for their physical ailments. We should also put them on rest for certain behavioral problems. People want pets, not projects, as the saying goes.

4. “Why can’t you walk somewhere else?”

Because people shouldn’t (beep) have to. Neighborhoods, communities, parks, trails, roads, etc. should be SAFE for walkers of all species. And, in many cases, especially if you live with more than one dog and walk them individually, it’s logistically impractical to pack up and go somewhere else to walk. It takes too long. Some of us work for a living.

5. “Your presence alone triggered the dog’s attack.”

If a dog attacks someone just for walking in public, then that dog (beeping) shouldn’t be in public. Period.

6. Any discussion of how handling the leash would have helped prevent a dog attack.

Much of the discussion of dog bites and attacks falls into the trap of focusing only on leashes, because often nothing good happens when an off-leash dog collides with a dog on a leash. It is a major problem. I understand. Still, it’s in the same category as telling people what they should have done that we covered earlier. Could be useful in larger discussions. Not useful for someone after an attack.

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