What to do if a pitbull attacks you? And how do you handle a pit bull attack?
Here are some of the best tips for surviving pit bull attacks and what course of action you should take in case this happens to you.
National and local news are full of real-life stories about people getting attacked by pits. Pit bulls are actually one of the best tempered animals. For many years people used them for self-defense. But they can cause serious harm when they bite. Which often occurs without any warning signs.
What To Do If A Pitbull Attacks You?
Try To Stay Calm
Although most pit bulls are harmless, you might have the misfortune of coming across one that is aggressive. If you notice signs of danger, such as growling, bristled hair around the neck, or bared teeth, staying calm is your best course of action. But don’t forget that there might be times when a pit bull attacks without warning.
If you scream and run away, the dog will chase you. This is due to the fact that pit bulls are actually terriers, and they were specifically bred to be good hunters. It’s an ingrained trait that has been passed down in their DNA through hundreds of years. So don’t scream, and don’t run.
If you scream and freeze, the pit might think you’re a threat, which could cause it to attack. Pit bulls aren’t known for starting fights, but they will fight to the death to protect themselves, or those they love. If you give the pit a reason to think you are dangerous, he will bite. Without making any sudden movements, look around you to see if there is a safe place you can hide.
When we face danger, our body instantly goes into defense mode, which psychologists call “fight or flight”. This means there are physiological changes that occur that will prepare your body to face or escape the danger. Your heart will race. Your breathing will increase. You will be covered in sweat. Adrenaline will pump through your veins, making you feel like you can escape.
Don’t! Trying to outrun a pit bull isn’t a smart idea. When the pit bull bloodline was created in the 19th century, creators chose to crossbreed terriers, which are hunting dogs, with bulldogs, which are muscular and strong. This created the perfect mix of strength, agility, speed, and persistence. This new breed was originally used for blood sports, like bear and bull-baiting!
Because they were originally meant for hunting large prey, pit bulls are quick. They can run up to 45 miles per hour. Even with all the adrenaline pumping through your body, humans can only reach speeds of 28 miles per hour, although a select few have been able to reach 40, which still isn’t fast enough. If you run, they will chase. Your best option is to look for a place to hide.
The higher you get, the safer you are
Since you now know that you can’t outrun a pit bull, you may be thinking of safe places you could hide if you’re in danger of being attacked. A tree or fire escape is your best option. Pit bulls can’t climb trees, although I’ve certainly had a few that have tried. Ladders are a bit trickier. But not impossible for a determined animal.
You may also consider jumping on top of a vehicle, and this can be a good idea. However, be aware that pit bulls also have a large jump radius. Jumping from the ground, a pit bull can reach heights of 6.5 feet. That’s higher than the average adult male! If they have something they can use to assist their jump, like a fence, or even the hood of the car you’re hiding on, a pit can jump as high as 10 feet! Yeah, maybe the roof of that little Ford Focus wasn’t such a smart idea after all.
Offer something safe to bite
If escape isn’t an option, place something in front of you that the dog can bite instead of your body. It doesn’t matter what it is. Some suitable choices are:
Anything is better than letting the dog sink his teeth into your flesh. Once the dog is attacking something besides you, quickly release the item and step away slowly. Remain quiet and don’t look the dog in the eyes. This could make him feel challenged, which might make him pursue you.
Some experts recommend carrying food with you if you’ve seen a suspicious dog in the area. If a dog is approaching you, toss a large amount on the dog’s head. This will surprise the dog and hopefully distract them enough to get away. If it’s one big piece of food, toss it away from you. The dog’s eyes will naturally follow the food because it’s moving and you aren’t.
If you’re bit, don’t try to pull free
It’s a common myth that pit bulls have locking jaws, meaning once they bite down on something, they can’t let go. This isn’t true. The actual truth is that pit bulls were bred to keep their teeth sunk into their prize (which might be your arm or leg) for a long period of time. This is why pits make great hog dogs. Wild pigs have tough skin that is difficult to pierce through. Pit bulls have a bite strength of 300 pounds. Which can be enough to incapacitate an 800-pound wild pig.
If a pit gets ahold of you, don’t try to pull free. This will only cause you to sustain further injury from their sharp teeth. The best thing you can do is try to get the dog to open his jaws. However, do not try to do this with your hand. It won’t work and can lead to you to even more injury. Push against the dog’s grip. By forcing your captured limb further into the dog’s mouth, he will have to readjust his bite for a better hold.
The further you can get into the dog’s mouth, the better. The goal is to make them loosen their grip. It’s hard to keep your mouth closed when you feel like you’re choking. Another option is to use something hard to force the dog’s mouth open. This can be an umbrella, cane, or even a large stick you found on the ground. Anything that could work as a break stick, which is what trainers use when trying to deal with aggressive dogs.
Stay on the Defense
If a pit bull bites you, there’s no point in trying to struggle free. These dogs were bred to keep their prey immobilized for long periods of time. But what else would you expect from dogs that were designed to fight bears? Because they were bred for hunting and fighting, pits are known for a technique called “bite, hold, and shake”.
This means that once the dog has their teeth locked into their prey, they’ll begin to shake. The result is often broken or crushed bones, severe puncture wounds, and even complete dismemberment of limbs. Once a pit bull gets a good hold, they will shake and tug until they have their trophy on the ground.
If possible, back into something you can prop yourself against, like a wall or car. Anything that you can lean on so that you don’t fall down. This could also give you something to help support you as you try to kick the dog in the ribs or stomach. This can cause the dog to lose their breath enough to release you.
It is important to do your best to stay on your feet if you are being attacked. Once you’re on the ground, you are more vulnerable. This can give the dog a chance to go in from a different angle, hitting a more dangerous spot, like your neck or face. By staying on your feet, you have a real shot at getting away with less injury.
If You’re on the Ground
If you do end up on the ground, there are two options. You can attempt to protect yourself, or you can fight. If you are too frightened to fight back, you can try curling into a ball, tucking your head into your chest and covering it with your arms. If the dog is already biting you, try to keep the body part away from your face, neck, and legs. These areas have major arteries and you can bleed out quickly. You don’t want the dog to suddenly switch targets.
If you choose to fight, try to wrap your free arm around the dog’s neck and throat. If you can apply enough pressure that they can’t breathe, you might stand a chance of them releasing you. Or attempt to grab their hind legs and pull them off balance. If all else fails, poke the dog in the eyes or beat them with a heavy object like a big stick or a large rock.
Some experts recommend carrying pepper spray, Mace, or even aerosolized citronella. However, do not use these items unless you are already being attacked. If you spray an advancing dog, it might make the dog attack worse. You should only use a chemical against a dog if it has already latched onto your body.
What Doesn’t Work If a Pitbull Attack You
You should do anything you can to try and protect yourself from an aggressive dog. But it is not recommended to try stabbing or shooting a dog. Using a knife can be dangerous, as you can accidentally cut yourself. Pit bulls were specifically bred for gameness, meaning they will continue with their task, despite feeling physical pain. This means if the dog is in the middle of attacking you, it won’t stop just because you’re hurting it.
Shooting an attacking, or approaching, dog, is the number one thing you should not do. When you are being attacked, your body is going to be moving. This will make your shooting hand unsteady. You could accidentally fire the gun at something other than the dog. There have been numerous stories in the media about police officers who accidentally shot an innocent bystander while trying to shoot an attacking or charging dog. You don’t want that on your conscience.
How Dangerous Are Pit Bulls?
Now that you know how to survive a pit bull attack, keep reading to educate yourself on the statistics of Pitbulls. From 2005 2018, 471 American victims killed due to dog related injuries. 66% of these dog attacks were done by pit bulls. So does this mean that pits are more dangerous? Of course not.
Pit bulls score 83.9% on the American Temperament Test Society, which tests a dog’s stability, shyness, friendliness, and aggressiveness while around people. This test showed that pits are actually quite mild mannered. In fact, they rank number two on the list of most calm dogs. This rating proves that pits are more docile than any other breed, besides the Golden Retriever.
Another interesting fact is that Chihuahuas attack way more people than pits do. Actually, they are the highest ranked breed for dog bites. But these attacks don’t hit the news because they’re such small dogs that they don’t do much damage. Pit bulls can’t help but cause severe damage when they attack, even if they are responding to provocation.
What Causes Pit Bulls to Be Aggressive?
Many experts believe that pit aggression is a case by case situation. The whole breed isn’t dangerous. Any dog can bite. In fact, if you look at the research, Rottweilers and German Shepherds, who have an even stronger bite than a pit bull, are also on the list for the highest number of dog attacks. So what makes a pit bull aggressive?
Like any dog, it’s in how they were raised. Pit bulls are known for being stubborn and dominant. If they are not handled properly as a puppy, they will exhibit behavioral issues as an adult. This could include being aggressive. Owning a pit is not recommended for novices. If you don’t have experience with training a dog, you could end up with a difficult situation on your hands in the form of a massive dog with a strong bite that has no respect for you.
Don’t Be Afraid of the Breed. Be Afraid of the Behavior
So many people get hung up on being afraid of pit bulls that they don’t consider that they have the same chance of being attacked by another breed. Maybe it’s because pit bulls have such strong bites and cause severe damage when they do attack. Or maybe it’s partly to do with politics.
You’ve probably seen a dozen horror stories on your local news station about a severe pit bull attack. But you rarely see anything about attacks from other breeds. This bias has caused many cities and countries to place restrictions on owning a pit bull. Ignore what the media says. Don’t just fear pit bulls. Fear any dog that exhibits dangerous behavior. They don’t have to be big to cause harm.
Kassidy Shepperd is the editor in chief for Canine-Prime.com. She is is a dog lover/trainer, a freelance writer and a volunteer at many pet rescue and shelter centers. Kassidy is based in Colorado and regularly writes for dog related magazines and blogs.