Achieving Balance and Harmony


Avoiding a dog attack

Dear Cesar,

I have a question regarding a face-to-face encounter with a dog you don't know, whether it be in a friend's or acquaintance's house or on a street, what is the best move to avoid an attack?


Greg Matthews

Dear Greg,

This is the hardest lesson for me to teach anybody, but it's an important one for people to learn.

The first thing I try to remember if a strange dog is acting aggressively toward me is to not take it personally. I don't feed any fear in me, or anxiety; I get very calm. Believe it or not, what will be instrumental in blocking the animal from attacking you is for you to be calm and unafraid. An aggressive dog wants you under stress before it attacks. If you are calm and in control of yourself, it slows them down and throws them off.

Once I have asserted myself, I claim my own space. Often, I use a walking stick, an umbrella, or anything I happen to be carrying and place it out in front of me, so I make myself appear bigger and feel more in command of my space. What I am saying with my body language is, I don't want the dog's space; I don't want that tree over there, I just want this space that I am standing in. Again, I am maintaining a very calm and assertive state. That energy creates a barrier that automatically demands his respect. I'm letting him know that I'm not afraid of him.

As you can see, this is a hard concept to teach. It's best to be with someone who can do it to understand what it looks like and what it feels like. Most people can't imagine that, in many situations, you can stop an aggressive dog by not moving and not being afraid, but I do it all the time with a whole pack of dogs. It can be taught to children more easily than it can be taught to adults, because when taught young, it becomes something ingrained in us. Once a person is an adult, the difficulty isn't in training them – it's in the process of un-training them.

I hope this helps a bit! Just keep in mind these four important words:

Stay calm and assertive,

Cesar Millan
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