Despite a lot of dog lovers, many people are scared of dogs and other animals – even if they may be trained pets. This is a very common fear known as cynophobia. About 1/3rd of people who suffer from phobias fall in this category. That brings up the question of whether a person should use defense spray against dogs and other pets which have been a long-run debate with logical arguments on both ends.
Are dogs a threat?
Street dogs usually pose a higher threat to humans as compared to pets. This difference stems from the environment that they are raised in. However, pets can also showcase severe aggression due to the negative treatment of owners. Notice how the most common reasons for dog aggression are all human-induced:
Fear of humans
Frustration from being leashed
Protecting possessions and owners
Going into heat
This proves that animal behavior is dependent upon the human attitude towards them.
However, some dogs and animals are still a threat to humans, bringing up the debate on dog defense spray. Some breeds such as Pitbulls and German Shepherds are genetically aggressive which has unfortunately resulted in a number of serious injuries and deaths reported worldwide. This calls for the use of sprays for defending oneself against a dog and other pets.
Legalities & ethics of spraying animals
In the US, the use of defense spray against an attacking dog is legal in almost all states. In Europe, on the other hand, this law differs from country to country but spraying an animal is illegal in most cases.
It’s best to look up the laws in your city as many jurisdictions have imposed age restrictions and allow the carrying and use of defense sprays in situations where the animal poses a threat to humans and others.
That brings up the whole debate of spraying a dog or animal in a way that it is not harmed. A good retailer will advise only dog owners or individuals that have experience with animals to purchase a dog spray as it requires proper handling.
Safe-to-use defense sprays include a maximum of 1% capsaicinoids which will not harm animals. This is also the amount legally allowed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the US. This is because animals have highly sensitive sense organs.
The right way to use it is to spray from 3-10 meters apart (check the label before spraying). The spray will numb the senses of the animal temporarily, giving a person enough time to make a quick escape. Some sprays also emit a noise that startles dogs to stop them from attacking or fighting. Defense sprays can also be used recurrently if the animal does not back down in one spray.
Last but not least, it is important to remember that pepper sprays are not the same as defense sprays for animals. Pepper sprays generally have a higher content of irritants which are enough to prevent human attacks but they can be too harmful to animals.
How to deal with an animal attack
If defense sprays are not legal in your locality, there are a number of other ways to protect yourself against an animal attack.
It’s best to deal with an animal threat before it turns into an attack, especially if you do not have a defense spray to protect yourself. If a dog or animal is constantly looking at you, a smart tactic is to block its vision. Put a piece of clothing (such as a scarf), a bag, an umbrella or anything that you have on hand between yourself and the animal.
Whenever you come into contact with such an animal, make sure you’re confident. Most animals can sense fear and view you as easy prey. A dominating voice, posture, and overall attitude can turn animals into submission.
Lastly, and this is very risky so only opt for this if you are confident you can handle it, if you see a leash on the animal, grab it. It is probably a pet that has run off and is showcasing aggression due to fear or frustration. Grabbing the leash can help you tie it to a secure place to avoid any harm to yourself and others. However, it is important to remember to keep your face away from the animal while doing this as it can cause serious injuries.
It is understandable to feel a sense of fear in the presence of a threatening animal. However, the important thing to do is to make sure that the animal is not aware of this fear. Take deep breaths and calm yourself if you get anxious. Make sure you don’t showcase any emotions of fear such as trembling, screaming, shaking, running, or crying.