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 it really is when a BFD is attacked by dogs. For many people it is life changing. After I posted Dog Attack: 5 Things to Say, other dog attack survivors shared their favorite annoyances. Here’s a summary of other comments or suggestions that don’t help. Plus the story of an aggressive dog in my past.


More comments you should definitely NOT make after a dog attack

1. “Hold on.”

I’m guilty of saying this to friends in other scenarios – life stresses, major diagnoses, chronic illnesses, breakups, etc. I’m working on removing the phrase from my vocabulary. I know it’s supposed to be supportive, but when you’re hanging by a very small thread it sounds hollow. Let’s all stop saying it in any context.

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

STFU. STFU. STFU with the outdated, totally debunked, scientifically incorrect pack leader BS. If you don’t understand why this whole concept is the biggest crap, please read something on the topic. I suggest this article by Pat Miller which reads in part… “Why any mention of ‘alpha dogs’ or ‘dominant’ dogs is dangerous for all dogs.” In fact, there’s a good chance at least some aggressive dogs were trained using punishment and intimidation, eh only makes things worse. Think of it this way—punishment dog training is like domestic violence against dogs. It harms the dog and makes it more (not less) likely that the dog will bite or attack.

3. “This has never happened before.”

Ahh, denial. The problem with dog bite records is that dog bites and dog attacks are grossly underrated because SO many of them happen in the home or with friends/family of known dogs or because other people don’t want the dog to “get in trouble”. In other words, just because there’s no official record of a previous dog bite or attack doesn’t mean there haven’t been other incidents. I’m also pretty sure that in many places, dog bite records are not shared between jurisdictions. So if a dog moves, their bite records may not go with them. In Colorado, however, some dangerous dogs will be placed on a statewide registry.

Yes, there is a first time for everything. Properly treated, it should also be the LAST time but often not because people don’t take it seriously, don’t take responsibility for the danger some dogs pose, and don’t take steps to address the problem to protect others.

Many years ago we had a dog for about 10 days that started being aggressive towards me and our other dog at the time. Luckily he never bit or attacked himself, but he could easily have done so. After one particularly scary incident, a savvy friend told me to get this dog out of my house before he hurt me. We brought him back to the shelter. They put him to sleep. Heartbreaking as it was. It was 100% the right decision for this dog. He was dangerous because he was suffering. Emotional suffering is still suffering. We put dogs to rest for their physical ailments. We should also bury them if they have certain behavioral problems. People want pets, not projects, as the saying goes.

4. “Why can’t you go somewhere else?”

Because people don’t have to (beep) it. Neighborhoods, communities, parks, trails, roads, etc. should be SAFE for hikers of all types. 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 walk somewhere else. It takes too much time. Some of us work for a living.

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

If a dog attacks someone just for walking in public, then that (cheeping) dog should not be in public. Period.

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

Many discussions of dog bites and dog attacks fall into the trap of focusing solely on the leash, as often nothing good happens when an off-leash dog runs at a leashed dog. It’s a big problem. I get it. However, it’s in the same category as telling people what they should have done, which we’ve covered before. Might be helpful in broader discussions. Not helpful for someone after an attack.

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