With perhaps 600 million strays searching for food, street dogs are a common element just about everywhere in the world. Packs of stray dogs can be found often on the outskirts of town where the animals scrape by on trash and seem bent on hassling anyone passing through.
Usually strays are easily scared even buy just turning around and facing them. However, if they are part of a larger pack, they do get encouraged by their own number and may ascend into attack if they want to reach food, or protect the one they already have.
Feral dogs live wherever they have a habitat and a food source available, most commonly in parks, under abandoned buildings and in rural wooded areas. They are also very protective of their territory, so passing through a location where the pack dwells might be a bad idea. Wild or stray dogs that roam freely can prey on livestock or family pets, become a danger to people or cause extensive damage to your property.
It has been reported that one in 20 dogs will bite a person in its lifetime, and with perhaps 600 million strays around the world, attacks on people are common. Though sterilization and programs underway in some countries, the dog problem may only be growing worse. Rabies outbreaks occur regularly, and the World Health Organization estimates that the disease kills 55,000 people per year. Dogs are the vector in 99 percent of these cases. Stray dogs may also be carrying any of the following diseases:
- Ticks, fleas, mange
- Ringworm and other fungal diseases
- Kennel cough
- Intestinal parasites: roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms, whipworms
Cases of dogs mauling on old people or children have been quite often lately, as they are the ones that are less able to protect themselves from an attack. Depending on the country or city, and its implemented protective measures, dog numbers can range from 100,000 in Bucharest, 1.25 million in Baghdad or 20,000 dogs to a population of 50,000 people in Detroit. Some have adopted euthanasia as a solution, others just sterilization, but no matter what you chose to do to get rid of dogs, the best result always come from preventing such an infestation.
Protect yourself from dog attacks
Though dogs are not true pack animals, a group of them would be pretty threatening, especially at night. Since dogs are scavengers, not hunters, the reason they would approach people is for food.
They may have conflicted behaviour as well, meaning they would like to approach, but are afraid. If you see a dog approach and then retreat, this is conflicted behaviour. Beware that fearful dogs usually attack from the rear, so watch them out of your peripheral vision. Growling is what it’s called a distance-increasing behaviour. It is a threat that you should interpret as the dog wanting you to go away. The best approach is to heed the warning and respect the dog’s wishes, because if you don’t, the dog is left with two options, run or attack.
Walking can be a relaxing way to exercise but an encounter with an aggressive dog along the way is a terrifying, potentially dangerous situation. Knowing how to protect yourself from dogs while walking is vital to your safety, especially when dealing with stray dogs. Should you encounter packs of three or more dogs, try to avoid them, as together they are more dangerous. Avoid passing through their territory at all cost. Should you be walking on country roads, there’s a high possibility of encountering abandoned dogs which now can be frightened, but by sensing the presence of a human, can become aggressive.
Especially if encountering a stray dog on the street, do not pet it. Ask permission before approaching the animals that are walking with their owners, as well, as if the dog gets startled, if can lash out and bite.
Remember that dogs can easily sense panic and this makes them even more aggressive. Never make direct eye contact with a stray dog, as they perceive this a s threat. Do not turn your back on a barking dog, and never run as it will only encourage it to follow you and humans can be easily outrun by dogs, so stop any sudden movement and slowly move away from the dog. To protect yourselves on walks you can also carry defensive weapons such as pepper spray, electronic whistles or even a telescopic stun baton.
Stray dogs may forage for food, stake out territory, breed, and have unwanted litters with communicable diseases. Many dogs become homeless when they are separated from their owners, get lost, or escape. Life for a dog on the street is difficult, especially if they’re used to being cared for. If you see a stray dog, learn how to safely deal with the dog so that you’re both protected.
If you are approached by a dog who may attack you, follow these steps:
- Resist the impulse to scream and run away.
- Remain motionless, hands at your sides, and avoid eye contact with the dog.
- Once the dog loses interest in you, slowly back away until he is out of sight.
- If the dog does attack, “feed” him your jacket, purse, bicycle or anything that you can put between yourself and the dog.
- If you fall or are knocked to the ground, curl into a ball with your hands over your ears and remain motionless. Try not to scream or roll around.
Protect your home from stray dogs
Should you be dealing with stray dogs visiting your yard, you can try using natural repellents such as using placing ammonia or vinegar soaked cotton balls around the part of your yard or garden that the dog is frequenting, as it will drive the dog back. If these natural repellents do not do the trick, you can use try applying a liquid or granular-based repellent around the perimeter of your yard that targets a dog’s keenly developed sense of smell and taste. You can also apply it on individual plants and flowers to protect them from doggy destruction. Liquid repellents protect large areas and also provide vertical protection, essential to your efforts to keep stray dogs out of the garden.
Another effective dog repellent is motion-activated sprinklers, which work by releasing a sudden jet of water. The burst of water, along with the tic-tic-tic sound, is sure to keep dogs off your property. Knowing the type and number of dogs you are dealing with is certainly the first step to reclaiming your home from your uninvited canine invaders, as some solutions work for just one invader, but dealing and getting rid of a whole pack might just be more complicated.