What to Do When Your Dog is Attacked

Hey friends! Apologies for the radio silence over the past week. I had started working on some fun new content for the blog last week but then in true life fashion, the unexpected happened. My sweet pup Sheba was attacked by an off-leash pitbull. She’s going to be ok, but it was a pretty traumatizing event and because of it, I’ve understandably been away from the computer and giving her lots of extra TLC as she recovers.

This was the first time I’ve ever had to deal with something like this, and I really hope that none of you have or will have to ever. It’s awful! But just in case, I thought it’d be helpful to share some insights on what to do when your dog is attacked.

What to do when your dog is attacked

Comfort Your Pup + Evaluate

Right after an attack, it’s important to comfort your pup and evaluate them. Are there any visible wounds or bleeding? If so, you’ll want to take them to a vet ASAP to let the doctors do a more extensive check, which may include x-rays and/or surgery. Of course, they’ll come to you with the full report before starting any treatment.

Report the Incident

The first call you want to make (after getting your pup to safety of course) is to animal control to file a complaint. If it’s a first-time offense, the complaint will be on-file, should anything happen with that same animal in the future. Animal control should also come out to evaluate the dog and take any further action if necessary. Sometimes this means putting the dog in quarantine, requiring a fence at the home, posting “dangerous dog” signs, and in extreme situations (more likely if a repeat offender) removed from the home and/or put down.

When reporting, be sure to have as many details as possible on hand. This includes the owner’s information (if known), address, dog description, and if you have any photos. If there are any witnesses around during the time of the attack, it’s also helpful to have their information too, if possible.

It’s also important to note that most cities/states have “leash laws,” where dogs are required by law to be on a leash when outside of the house. And if a dog attacks yours (especially off-leash), the owner is legally responsible to pay for any medical/vet bills.

Give Lots of TLC

Just like humans, dogs can get PTSD. And YES they do remember incidents like these. Take it slow when getting back into your routines and be mindful that your pup might show signs of fear and it could take some time for them to feel comfortable around other dogs or go back to a place where the attack happened.

Carry a Protective Tool

This comes into play post-attack when you’re ready to go back into the neighborhood/out for walks. We’re definitely not there yet, but my vet recommended carrying an air horn on walks and blasting it at any dog that comes up to attack. Walking sticks are also really great to have so you can use it to put some space between you/your dog and the attacking dog, if needed. It’s definitely a nuisance to have to carry these extra things around, but honestly, if it protects you and/or your pup, it’s totally worth it.

Sheba injury

I know so many of you are big fans of Sheba and love when she makes an appearance on the blog or Instagram. And know that despite the trauma of the attack and her poor front leg injuries, she’s still our happy, smiling girl, and is on the road to recovery!

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  • So sorry this happened to your pup! Glad she wasn’t hurt more seriously. So sad. :(

    • I know :( it’s been rough but she’s healing really well! She’s been getting lots of rest, medicine + love from the fam!

  • Omg! Poor baby!! I don’t know what I would do. I had an off leash dog try to come at Hawkeye but she’s so little that I just picked her up and it was fine. Honestly, I’d probably do the one thing you’re not supposed to – stick your own arm or other body part in between the dogs.

    • She had 2 little dogs come at her last month but I was able to get away easily since they were small and I could scoop Sheba up. I actually read (after the attack) that you’re not supposed to do that though! Who knew?! I’m just so glad it wasn’t worse! And she’s going to be very excited tomorrow because she gets her stitches out and can probably stop wearing the cone!

  • omg I’m so sorry! I’ve had my old dog attacked before and i know how painful it is to watch them in pain. I’m such a nervous wreck with Tucker and won’t let any strangers near him and am so overprotective with him. I like the blow horn idea a lot <3

    • It so is! We’ve been on low-key backyard “walks” I’ve been nervous to back out in the neighborhood with her! She gets her stitches out tomorrow though, so we give it a try after. I’ll definitely be armed with something to protect her!

      • yeah i’d be nervous too. Last night we were talking tucker and walked by this dog that freaked out and started to bark aggressively. We were doing a second lap and the owner legit stood in the middle of the sidewalk so his dog could attack tucker. I yelled at him I got so mad. Honestly I dont know how some people can have dogs

  • OMG I’m so sorry this happened! I’ve seen dog fights before and they’re super scary so I imagine seeing your dog attacked is terrifying :( People in my neighborhood can’t seem to keep their dogs in their yards so I may have to take the horn idea. We had a dog try to start a fight with mine but I stepped in front of him and scared the other dog away. My heart was racing! I’m so glad Sheba is OK and recovering <3

    • Thanks, Jenn! She’s had a few dogs come at her off leash but they were small enough so I could shoo them away. Fortunately my boyfriend was walking her so I didn’t have to witness it – I don’t think I could’ve handled it!!

  • Sepideh

    That’s so sad!!!! I can’t even imagine how traumatic that is for your pet but even for yourself… !

    http://www.elleisforlove.com

    • SO traumatic! I’m glad my pup’s on the mend though. Her wounds are looking SO much better now compared to about 2 weeks ago when it happened!

  • Poor, poor baby! That’s awful :( I hope the irresponsible owner of the attacking dog was scolded. I’m so glad Sheba is ok! I have one dog that would 100% fight back and one that would lay down and take the beating. I’ve always had a mental plan to let my bigger aggressive dog fight off the potential attack while I scoop up the smaller one, then break it up between the two. It’s such a scary thing to think about as a dog owner! :(

    • I know :( He was! And I’m still waiting for him to pay me for the vet bills, but nothing yet. So there’s another layer of things to deal with. Ugh! Unfortunately a pit bull is a whole different beast when it comes to dog attacks. People need to be more alert with their dogs and keep them on leashes!!

  • Shannon Paige

    Oh my God, so sorry for you and your little pup-how horrible! I hope she feels better and the owners of the other dog were able to pay the bills for you…. I really hate when people have their dogs off of leashes outside of the home (law or no law) because not every dog is good with other dogs and people (my dog is so bad with those) and we aren’t going to stay home just because of it.

    https://thegoodthingscomin.wordpress.com/

    • I couldn’t agree with you more, Shannon! I gave them the bills last week but crickets so far. I’m hoping they’ll reach out and/or pay me soon. I really don’t want to have to go the lawyer route!

  • Taylor

    This is so horrible, I’m so sorry you had to go through this! I absolutely love this article though…I live in Providence, Rhode Island (tons of pitbulls here!) and love to take my dog to the dog park since there are few places for him to run around in the city. I’ve witnessed THREE different dog attacks in the 5-6 times I’ve visited. I’m really struggling with whether I should even go back: I love seeing my dog run and play, but I’m so scared he’ll be next :(

    • Ugh, that’s unbelievable! Have the attacks been bad? I’m surprised people aren’t reporting them! You’d think after that many they’d be putting some restrictions out there. Definitely keep an eye on the dogs in there before going! When I used to bring Sheba to the dog park I’d only go when it was empty or it was dogs she knew!

  • Ebony-Rose Vienna

    This is so horrible! I am so sorry you had to go through this. I wish the only people allowed to own dogs were those who put the effort into ensuring they’re trained properly :( x

    • I couldn’t agree more! Hopefully they’ve learned their lesson and won’t let anything like that happen again!

  • That is so scary! My boyfriend and I adopted a 4 year old pit bull in July and we think he has been attacked by a dog before because he has a scar on his neck and gets so afraid if any dogs go by his neck. The other day we were on a walk and a huge Newfoundland ran at us and my pup and myself we’re so scared. I hope Sheba heals fast and you can go on walks without her being afraid soon!

    • Oh no! PTSD in dogs is a real thing! We haven’t braved the neighborhood yet (she’s been restricted to the backyard for “walks”) but she’s been itching to go. I’m hopeful she’ll be ok but I’m definitely going to be extra alert and carry something with me to keep any dog that might run up away!

  • I’m so sorry Rachel! I’m so glad Sheba is going to be okay. I don’t have a dog of my own right now but these are things I’ve thought about if I were to ever add a pup to my fam. Thank you for sharing your experience.

    • Thanks, Nicole! I hope you never have to deal with anything like this when you eventually get your dog!

  • This is so horrible! You’re poor baby! I can’t imagine what your doggo must be going through. Thank goodness they have you! <3

    • Thanks, girl! It’s definitely been rough. I’m just glad it wasn’t worse and she’s on the mend!

  • AWWW! I want to hug her even more now! I’m glad that she’s recovering though.

    • Thanks, Alix! She’s been getting extra snuggles these last couple weeks!

  • I’m so glad your puppy is going to be okay. I need thought about carrying a protective tool. But that such a great idea! My small dog has been attacked three times and is always so upsetting and scary!

    • Thank you! I never thought about it either – mostly because I’ve never had anything like this happen! I’m so sorry to hear that your dog was attacked too – and 3 times?! UGH! You definitely need to carry something with you!

  • Tori Dunlap

    I am so saddened to hear about your dog (I can’t even imagine what that feels like.) Thank you for writing this post for others who may be going through this!
    Tori || Victori Media

    https://www.victorimedia.com

    • It was the worst! I’m so glad she’s healing well and doing ok now though. Definitely something I hope nobody else has to go through!

  • This is terrible, I’m so sorry! Poor baby. I’ve always wondered about this! I carry pepper spray with me on walks, and I WILL spray another dog if something were to happen. But an air horn is a great idea too.

    • That’s such a good idea! I want to arm myself with all the things to protect my pup now!

  • mckenna bleu

    Oh no! So glad your pup is ok! So scary! This is a great post- thank you!

  • Paige Rankin

    This is so sad!! I have a little dog and this is always my fear when she is around big dogs of being attacked! Thanks for sharing

    xoxo, Paige
    http://www.midwesterncharmblog.com

    • My pup is about 40 pounds so I can’t even imagine what it would’ve been like if it were a little dog! Make sure you carry something with you for protection!

  • This makes me so sad, but it is definitely important to know what to do!

    • Definitely something I hope nobody else has to go through!

  • Oh my goodness, I’m so sorry this happened! I’m glad she’s ok. But yikes! How scary for you!

    • Thanks, Christina! It was rough for sure. I’m so glad my pup’s on the mend!

  • Oh my gosh how scary! I’m so sorry for your sweet pup. Glad to hear she’s on the mend. My friend’s dog was recently attacked while at a doggie daycare and the daycare staff refused to take any responsibility! So on top of getting medical attention for their dog they had to deal with an uncooperative staff. So frustrating!

    • Thanks, Hannah! That’s absolutely ridiculous! I hope they ended up taking responsibility for what happened. That was my biggest worry (after knowing Sheba was going to recover ok) – the medical bills aren’t cheap!

  • Wow, I’m so sorry to hear that this happened! I’m glad your sweet pup is okay.

    Tori

  • Amy

    Awh, poor thing! So sorry to hear that this happened to her! Such an informative post and will def keep this in mind for the future (hopefully I won’t have to use it though!!)

    • Thanks, Amy! Definitely hope it’s not something you ever have to deal with!

  • Anna Hubbard

    Omg I’m so sorry your dog had to go through this! I’m so glad Sheba is okay and recovering!

  • Azanique

    This is so scary girl! I am so sad that this happened.

    -xo, Azanique | https://www.lotsofsass.com

    • It was awful! October was a total blur with everything that happened. So glad she’s on the mend now!

  • Wow! That is so sad! I’m so sorry this happened to you and your dog. I’m glad it wasn’t any more serious. I hope your dog isn’t traumatized. I know I would be

    • Thank you, Danielle! She’s doing really well! Happy to not have super restricted activity and a cone!

  • Oh my goodness sweet thing. So sorry to hear this happened!!

    • Thanks, Alex! Fortunately she’s getting back to normal!

  • Thank you!! Ted was walking her so thankfully I didn’t have to witness it but the whole aftermath was still pretty traumatic for us!