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The Time I Kicked a Dog to Save Another Dog

Have you ever had to deal with an off-leash dog (or a dog on a Flexi leash) charging you? What did you do?

This week I shared a local letter to the editor about a dog on a Flexi leash attacking and biting a runner (thanks Mike, for the link). I am a dog lover, but I am also a runner and I said I would’ve kicked the dog had it attempted to bite me. While I love animals, I will defend myself, my family and my pets as necessary, just as I would expect anyone else to do.

If I am attacked by a person, I am going to respond with self defense. No one would question this. Why would it be any different if the attacker is a dog?

This made me think of a time when I actually did kick a dog. In that case, it was to protect the dog I was walking.

Kicking a dog for self defense

While using force is unnecessary most of the time, there are situations when it is the best – or perhaps the only – option.

In this case, I was walking one of my client’s dogs, a 100-pound dog who is a model loose-leash walker unless another dog charges his face. He can become reactive if a dog charges him.

When I’m walking a dog through my dog walking business I treat that dog as though he is my own. It is my responsibility to keep him safe. As we were out on this particular walk, a toy breed was barking at us from its yard. It was tethered and showing extreme excitement and frustration as it lunged several times.

“My” dog and I calmly walked away, showing no reaction, which is usually the best response. My dog was showing top-notch obedience.

This tiny dog managed to pull its leash loose, and proceeded to charge my dog and I.

What to do when a dog charges you?

In these situations, it is important to remain calm but also to react quickly. My first priority is always to remain in control of the dog I am walking. In this case, my dog was perfect. I kept him at my side and he was responding well to the situation. I made a point to keep his leash loose but short, and he didn’t seem to feel threatened by this tiny dog.

I then turned to address the approaching dog, calling out “NO!” while pointing at it with direct eye contact and stepping towards it. This is often my first reaction when dealing with an off-leash charging dog. When I use the right energy, it typically stops the dog in its tracks for at least a second or two.

This is enough time to defuse the intensity of the situation and to allow myself and both dogs to “re-group.” I also move my body between the two dogs to break off any eye contact between them.

My mutt Ace, what to do when an off-leash dog charges you?

In this case, the dog did not stop, and it attempted to get at my dog’s face. Remember, my dog can be reactive and he is 100 pounds. I am certain he will attack another dog if pressed. So, I did what I thought was the best option for the situation. I kicked the small dog directly in the chest, once again yelling “No!”

This time the dog toppled backwards and then stood there, definitely defused. It shook itself off, then turned and ran home.


I did not want to hurt this dog, and I didn’t. But more importantly, I did not want my dog to attack or kill the dog. I was protecting both dogs, and myself. Although provoked, I didn’t want my dog to be faced with any type of dangerous dog labels for biting, injuring or killing another dog. I also did not want the other dog to get hurt.

The irresponsible dog owners are rare

Although off-leash dogs charge me fairly often, most of the time they are friendly, just as the dogs I walk are usually friendly.

As usual, it is the responsibility of each dog owner to keep his or her own dog under control, whether the dog is on a leash or not. It is unfortunate we even have to have discussions about what seems like common sense. But, as with anything else, there is always a small group of people who make life difficult for everyone else.

Have you ever been threatened by an off-leash dog?

For more on this topic, see my posts:

What to do when an off-leash dog charges me?

What to do if your dog runs away

How to get your dog to behave off leash


Thursday 8th of March 2018

For 45 years with 1 Irish Setter and 4 Standard Poodles, we've had other loose dogs attack ours on leash. The worst was with our first dog Ryan O'Malley, Irish Setter. I was at a neighborhood park with him and my one year old son in a stroller. Two large St. Bernards, huge, jumped out the back of a pick up truck and ran to us. To protect my son, I let go of my leash on Ryan, one dog on either side of my Ryan. Ryan was a happy go lucky Irish, but I could tell he was nervous. All of a sudden, both dogs ripped up his back. I screamed and the man, supreme jerk, finally got his dogs off him. Now I had a bleeding dog, baby and had to walk 12 blocks home and then get my doggie to the vet for stitches. Husband at work at the time. I reported the dogs and they had killed a pet rabbit next door to them. I had hoped the 2 St. Bernards were destroyed. They were killers.

Lindsay Stordahl

Thursday 8th of March 2018

So scary. So glad you and your son were not hurt.


Sunday 14th of January 2018

We actually had to carry an umbrella to use because whenever we would walk our three dogs (who are reactive when confronted), we would have dogs running out all the time. Even when they are screaming my dog is friendly and ours are going ballastic, the people did not get it (as we were screaming "ours aren't friendly). So we would pop open the umbrella to shield our dogs and to try to scare away the other dog. I had read that someplace online years ago. In my own yard we have 20 acres to walk now. But if a stray dog came on our property as it is not fenced in, I am not sure how I would convince my dogs to settle down and go home with me. I am constantly thinking as I have to protect my family.


Saturday 15th of February 2014

I used to live in a bad neighborhood where dogs hung out in packs. They'd harass people all the time. I'd take my stand, yell at them to back off, stomp my feet at them, and sometimes even throw a few rocks. They'd generally backed off and left me alone. But one day they didn't. The leader of this pack was being particularly feisty and actually came at me like he was going to bite. Yes, I kicked him. And I kicked him hard while also yelling no. After that, the pack would bark at me if they saw me, but they never came after me again.

I also had a time where someone kicked my dog. We were camping and I had let him off his leash. I was young and ignorant back then and didn't consider the fact that he was young too and didn't have a good recall yet. So when he eagerly ran up to this guy who was walking by our campsite, the guy kicked him. It wasn't a hard or even malicious kick. I'm sure he was just startled and reacted defensively. No, I wasn't mad. I was ashamed. Both my dog and I learned a lesson that day.

Lindsay Stordahl

Saturday 15th of February 2014

Wow those are quite the stories! I have never been in a situation where I felt threatened by a group of dogs. Yikes. That would be scary.

Growing up, my family's golden jumped on people all the time. Like, really bad. I'm surprised no one kicked her. She was really friendly but she practically knocked people over. Not good.


Wednesday 12th of June 2013

It is so unfortunate that this is such a common occurrence. My husband and I moved to new area last summer and I was happy at first that so many of my neighbors had dogs, but it only took a few weeks to figure out that they just leave them in their yards all day. Bored dogs will find something to do. I've had a few incidents where my dog and I were charged by either boxers or a german shepherd (always alone, never when my husband was with us). It's terrifying. I no longer walk Lucy alone, and that is even more frustrating to me. A neighbor across the street leaves her very aggressive german shepherd outside in her yard all day and he actively tries to jump the fence when he sees another dog. It made me uncomfortable since the first time I noticed it. My husband assured me he couldn't jump the fence and not to worry. One day, I was walking my Lucy (now a year old blackmouth cur, she had been jumped on by a boxer when she was only 5 mo, at the time of this incident, she was abt 8 mo), and I heard the women call the dog's name, and I realized it was on their front lawn. I managed to get Lucy up our front steps and when I looked behind me when closing my storm door, the shepherd was immediately behind us. He had to recoil to keep from getting hit by the door. I was beyond scared. I kept thinking about what could've happened, what if he got in our house? Etc. Then the woman had the nerve to tell me that her dog is scared of other dogs and therefore would not have hurt my dog. Recently walking with my husband, 2 giant boxers tried to jump their fence to get to Lucy, while their owner remained seated on her front steps and just called out "oh, they're fine". I don't understand why just anyone is allowed to have dogs (and children). It just breaks my heart. * Sorry for the long post but it helps to get it out

Lindsay Stordahl

Wednesday 12th of June 2013

That incident with the dog charging to your door sounds scary. I'm so glad nothing worse happened. Yikes.


Wednesday 12th of June 2013

Our dogs have been very friendly and social over the years. Well, two in resident Poodles had their issues. The larger and newcomer was antisocial to the resident and smaller blind one. BAAAD dog. I had to break up a fight while driving at one time. My late wife fussed at me for letting go of the steering wheel while doing so, Oh me.

If one finds it necessary and wise to use a foot, use the instep in lieu of the two. Just as effective and less liable to injure kickor or kickee. Just my idea.

Few if any dogs off leash around here. Many dog walkers, though, Short leash and long retractables. All quite friendly or very shy!!

Well, my new ARF pal, Coco isn't. AT an overweight 28 pounds, he flips on sight or smell of a dog or cat!! So, his on leash walks are confined to my yards. Fortunately quite large. He was tethered at the front porch, while I was near, in the garage. The UPS guy made a delivery. No problem to Coco, or when the telephone guys were restringing my service. OK with Coco. But, last night, a neighbor's cat was visiting as he/she has for years in the back. Coco flipped. Of course, on leash, no damage to either. Something in his background, that I'll just have to live with. otherwise, he loves me to death, and I, he!!!