Self-defense against dogs

I have two of the “most dangerous and aggressive” dog breeds in my home - Pitbull and German Shepherd. According to the SmartCanine, they’re #1 and #3 respectively on the list!

Mine are very well trained and are far from scary dogs (unless you’re afraid of being licked). :slight_smile:

Others of the same breeds might be very well trained to attack or fight. All dogs can attack if they’re hurt or provoked.

What would it take for you to shoot a dog - yours or someone else’s?

These are my two “scary” dogs.


I’m wondering how “warning” shot works on dogs? Perhaps this would be enough to scary a dog?
Otherwise, in my opinion, if I see attacker’s teeth on my or someone’s skin - that the moment to take a shot. [I consider this “imminent danger”].

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Warning shots are illegal in most states- there are a lot of downsides to them (you’re responsible for any damage done by your shot - and with a warning shot you don’t know where the round will end up).

If you had a different way to make a loud, startling noise, it might be worth an attempt.


This is an easy one. When my 10 month old granddaughter was sitting on one of side me on the floor and her dog jumped over my lap and attacked her. It grabbed her by the head and bit her on the forehead and eye lid. She ended up in Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh where the doctors did a tremendous job repairing the injuries. Today at the age of 10, nobody notices the scars unless they really look close.

Since the dog had to be watched for illness, my son would not let me put the dog down, However he did permit me to pay for the vet to put it down.

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@Dawn, you are right about loud noise, in this case, as soon as I screamed, the dog let go and ran for the corner.

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What about “responsible” warning shot? I don’t get it… so it would be a legal action to shot somebody (I’m still talking about imminent threat) instead of scary someone with warning shot (fe into soft ground, lawn, etc) ?

Warning shots are a bad idea. It is legal to defend yourself with lethal force when you’re in imminent, unavoidable danger of death or grave bodily harm - in most states.

A warning shot can ricochet and if you’re using one you’re basically saying you’re not in imminent, unavoidable danger of death or grave bodily harm because you didn’t have to shoot the attacker and you had time for a warning shot.

Who else is around you that would take your shot as aggression? Or throw themselves in front of your gun to protect their dog - even if it’s not aimed directly at the dog?

Not to mention, what if you need that extra round for your self-defense?

They’re just not a good idea.


Once I, or a family member has been bitten. Then I’m burying a knife in that dogs throat. Still less hassle than explaining why I discharged a gun in town. If it’s woods walking, I’m putting the muzzle point blank at the dogs chest, and bang.

Thx for explanation.

if you’re using one you’re basically saying you’re not in imminent, unavoidable danger of death or grave bodily harm because you didn’t have to shoot the attacker and you had time for a warning shot.

this make sense…
It also explains why Mozambique drill prepares you for surviving but doesn’t prepare you for murder charges…:face_with_raised_eyebrow:

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Only would I (as civilian) dispatch a dog if, it appears that extreme bodily harm has ensued. Flesh is ripping or jaws of death grip to vital areas (throat). I may attempt less lethal options, if situation allowed for it. On assignment,(LEO) charging dogs, will be put down, quickly.
I love dogs, have been a dog owner all my life.
It’s a shame that they’ve been mistreated and breed for ill intent oftentimes.

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my wife got involved with this last year. We live in a desert community and she walks her dogs every day. Two unleashed dogs charged out of a yard barking, growling with teeth bared. Wife fired a round into the ground and stopped the attach. Owner of dogs called sheriff and reported my wife shot at her dogs. Deputy said dogs must be on leash but wife was wrong to fire weapon. You need to wait till you are actually engaged and try to get pictures or witnesses (TOTALLY BIZARRE).

That is unfortunate, @Kenneth11. Was there any sort of legal consequences for your wife?

A lot of states do not allow you to shoot a dog if it’s attacking your dog. Pets are considered property in some states and family in others. Another good reason to research laws in your state. :confused:

There were no consequences other than verbal warning to both parties. The laws are clear but I will protect myself and my animals. Many small dogs have the Big Dog syndrome and can cause great damage to our pet and ourselves when we try to separate them.

I will be darned another perfectly resting thread and I am going to resurect it.

I may be mocked, but I am not sure there is anything that would cause me to shoot a dog. Dog attack on a child? To dynamic a scene for me to trust a gun shot. I’ve gotten between dogs fighting, a dog attacking someone, a dog attacking me. No issues. I’ve only been bit once, and that was rescuing a German Shepherd that had been hit by a car. However he made up for all the other times I had not been bit. He destroyed a bone in my left hand (Trapezium) that left me with only 30 lbs. of grip strength

I have been the child in the dog attack and you are correct, the scene is too dynamic to take a shot. In that case you will have to wade into the fight to separate the child and the dog. From my experience I could shoot a dog that was threatening to attack me. I know it is common to anthropomorphize dogs but in this case I think it is appropriate… just like humans dogs can either by nature and/or nurture become dangerous and require someone to shoot to defend themselves if faced with “death or great bodily harm”.

I understand @Greg1, and I can only sympathize with how traumatic that had to have been for you. You are absolutely correct in saying that we tend to anthropomorphize our dogs. I am guilty of that. For me, my dogs were truly the only source of affection I had as a child, which tends to color my judgement as an adult.

It has also been the cause of a lifetime of volunteerism with my daughter and I in animal rescue. I have taken on dogs that no one else would touch and through loving and persistent attention been able to redeem what were considered unredeemable dogs. I have been accused many times of “tilting at windmills”.
This Pit Bull was considered unredeemable. It took me 5 years and in excess of $5,000 to save him. He is in a wonderful home now. Many consider my efforts excessive. I think of it as “paying it both back and forward”. Now that Pit Bull is a therapy dog and when not at a Children’s Hospital, he is firmly planted in his owners lap or bed.


@Zavier_D I am glad you were able to rescue that dog. From the photo I can make a guess as to what happened before you came along to help him. What an amazing turn around for him to be a regular at a children’s hospital now.

I’m so glad you were able to help the pitbull! They have such a bad stigma. My pitbull thinks she’s a lap dog too - she’s 55 lbs and all muscle and elbows. :smiley:

His name is Nemo, (reference to Finding Nemo, Nemo had a bad fin, this sweet boy had a " bad" ear). I have so many pictures of him, but they are all with kids. We had to do so much reconstructive surgery on him. Literally from the bone up, using skin grafts from his bottom.

He is almost 80 solid pounds of lean love machine. One of the sweetest dogs I’ve ever helped. If a dog ever had a reason to turn out wrong he was it. But nurture greater than nature. He just needed a chance.