How to Protect Yourself From Aggressive Dogs and Their Owners, PetHelpful

How to Protect Yourself From Aggressive Dogs and Their Owners


Dr. Mark is a veterinarian. He also trains dogs, mostly large breeds and those that suffer from aggression problems.

What to Do If a Dog Attacks You or Your Dog

If you are walking your dog, you’ll want to take steps to protect him or her against a loose and potentially aggressive dog. If you had to, you could strike the dog with a stick or anything else you might get your hands on and usually get the dog to back off, but you risk injury and permanent damage.

The best thing to do—the least damaging, with side effects lasting only about an hour—would be to spray the attacking dog the face with a mild pepper spray. However, defending yourself can be dangerous, too. When we try to defend our dogs from being harmed and the owner of the loose and aggressive dog appears out of nowhere and comes to his defense, the situation gets even more dangerous: «Stop that now! My dog, Killer, was only being friendly. Why did you spray him in the face?»

Below, you’ll find the best way to handle an angry and aggressive dog and its owner.

How to Deal With Angry Dog Owners

The biggest problem with protecting yourself from a loose dog is not the dog, it is the owner. Defending yourself and then telling the owner of a loose dog that you felt your life was in danger is the best way to defuse the situation. Here are some alternatives.

First, Use Pepper Spray to Defend Yourself

If you use pepper spray on their dog, explain that you did not want to spray the dog but felt you were in danger. Below, you’ll find suggestions for dealing with the angry dog owner.

Calmly Explain Leash Laws

This is obviously the best solution, one that many of us have tried, and something that often does not work when tempers are hot and beloved pets (even loose) are involved. If you defend your dog when out for a walk, and the owner is close enough to even see what happened, that person will most likely come storming over angrily and accuse you of abusing their dog. It does not do much good to explain to them that their dog needs to be on a leash and under control, that their dog was being aggressive, or that you were only defending your dog.

Explain What Has Happened to Your Dog in the Past

If your dog is small, explain that your last tiny dog was grabbed by a loose dog and killed with one shake. If your dog is large, and a small dog came up and barked in his face, explain that your dog might kill the little dog. (The other dog owner may or may not care that your dog is going to be declared dangerous, and may be taken away from you if your dog decides to defend himself.)

Explain the Alternatives

Do not point out how you could have hit the dog in the face with a stick and caused permanent damage. Explain how in most areas the dog can be reported to animal control for being loose. The owner will have to pay a fine and if the rabies vaccination is not up to date will also have to pay for quarantine. Explain that the police can be called and the dog might end up being shot as a loose and dangerous dog.

Take a Photograph of the Aggressive Dog and the Dog Owner

Whether you can legally take a photo of the owner when he is being aggressive varies by where you live. If you do manage to take a photo, also ask for the owner’s name so that you can report them to the authorities if your area has laws against dogs running loose without a leash. This may not do any good, but the guilty dog owner might walk off at this point.

Hire a Lawyer to Sue the Owner of the Aggressive Dog

In every state of the US, you have the legal right to protect yourself against loose dogs. Only a few states (like Michigan and Massachusetts) even have any laws that limit the purchase of pepper spray for dogs online. Hiring a lawyer to sue the owner of the aggressive dog is not the best solution to the problem, but it may be something you are forced to do.

Find a lawyer willing to take on your case and provide him with all pertinent information. You may not win, but the least the dog will be properly restrained in the meantime.

If the Loose-Dog Owner Does Not Back Down, Expect to Be Sued

Even if your actions are legal and ethical, it is not a guarantee that you will not be sued. In some countries, anyone can sue. If the owner of the loose dog starts a lawsuit against you, the best thing you can do is to counter-sue. You will need to get a lawyer interested to have a good chance of winning and having the dog removed from the area in which you normally walk your dog.

No matter what jurisdiction you live in, this area is still very new and a person who is accusing you of animal abuse will not have much chance of winning a suit. Even if they did win, however, the most they would probably receive is damages (veterinary expenses).

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Reasons to Use Pepper Spray on a Dog

  • I feel that my life is in danger.
  • The dog is barking at my child and might dart in suddenly and bite without provocation.
  • My dog is small and if the loose dog decides to attack, my dog will be killed.
  • My dog is afraid of loose dogs jumping in her face and if she gets upset she will lunge and hurt the other dog.
  • My dog is large and if she bites an aggressive, small dog, she will probably kill him. They owner will complain to animal control, then my dog might then be euthanized, or at the very least, will be branded a dangerous dog.

Will Pepper Spray Hurt a Dog?

There is a dearth of information on the effects of pepper spray on dogs. The best that we can do is extrapolate from the information available from humans. (This does not always work, as anyone who has shared a box of dark chocolate with her dog already knows.)

Research available on humans has shown that there is no damage to the function of the eye. There is no damage to the cornea. There are no changes to breathing or the absorption of oxygen.

If you pepper spray a loose dog, he could potentially rub his irritated eye on something on the ground and damage his cornea. If the owner shows up to grab his loose dog, you can tell him to wash the dog’s face to remove the irritating pepper powder as soon as possible.

Is All of This Going to Help?

Preventing a dog attack against you or your dog through the use of pepper spray should not be done lightly. No matter what you do to calm down the situation, the owner of the loose dog is going to be upset and may end up being violent. He or she is still going to come up to you and yell in your face for what is essentially his fault.

When I walk my dogs on the beach, I always carry a collapsing baton and a bottle of dog-strength pepper spray. I am aware of the potential for violence from an angry dog owner. The possible damage to one of my dogs from a loose and aggressive dog outweigh the problems of using the spray.

References and Links

  • «Clinical effects of oleoresin capsicum (pepper spray) on the human cornea and conjunctiva,» Zollmann et al, Ophthamology, 2000 Dec;107(12):2186-9.
  • «The effect of oleoresin capsicum «pepper» spray inhalation on respiratory function,» Chan et al, Journal of Forensic Science, 2002 Mar;47(2):299-304.
  • «Short-term and long-term physical effects of exposure to CS spray,» Karagama et al, Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, v.96(4); 2003 Apr
  • «How to protect your dog from being attacked,» Dr Mark,

Can you suggest other ways of dealing with angry owners?

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

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Dr Mark

5 weeks ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

Richard, that is all too common, unfortunately. People read that BCs are the smartest dogs and go out and buy one and the poor dog is bored and does not have anything to do to burn off his energy. The dog ends up biting someone and the owner ends up being mad at you and your friend, when in fact she should be mad at herself for making a bad choice in the first place.


5 weeks ago from Texas

As luck would have it, the day after I posted about this article, my neighbors’ dog bit a friend who had dropped by to pick me up to watch a sporting event. 6 months earlier, the dog bit my wife while she was going for the mail, tried to bite me, and also tried to bite another neighbor. They let the dogs <3>out daily to run around the yard. Unfortunately, they don’t just stay in their yard. The «biter» is a miniature Border Collie pup. The wife came over to apologize to my wife saying the dog was just trying to «herd» her. When my friend was bitten he reported it to the city’s animal officer. They picked up the dog and quarantined it for 2 weeks. Now my neighbor won’t talk or even wave at us. The man (neighbor) never tried to apologize in any way.


7 weeks ago from Texas

These are excellent tips for dealing with an aggressive dog. Thanks for the suggestions

James A Watkins

7 months ago from Chicago

Thank you for this needful and excellent article. I always have my bear spray on me when I walk my dogs Twice, I have had to use it against pitbulls who were charging at me.

Miebakagh Fiberesima

11 months ago from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA.

Dr Mark

11 months ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

Independentminded—I find myself more on the side of the kid on the bike. That guy on the truck could have caused the kid to be in an accident and crippled for the rest of his life. Some dog owners can be real jerks.


All of the suggestions above sound like legitimate, mature and cool-headed ways to deal with a ticked-off dog owner. Some of those things are things I’d say myself if I were a dog owner and was taking my dog for a walk.


You’ve got to be really careful, for example, if you’re on a bicycle, and an aggressive goes after you. (The sight of spinning wheels drives some dogs nuts.). Years ago, while on a bicycling trip, I heard a rather hair-raising story from one young woman in her early 20’s who used to lead teen-aged bike trip groups. She told the rest of the group a story about how one of the boys in a group that she led on a bicycle trip had squirted an entire water bottle full of water at an aggressive dog who started chasing him. A few miles down the road—you guessed it: A truck drove by, and the kid who’d squirted the dog with a bottleful of water got a whole big bucket of water splashed on him. The guy who’d splashed the kid with the bucketful of water was none other than the dog’s owner! Hopefully, the kid learned a lesson.

Miebakagh Fiberesima

11 months ago from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA.

Hey, Dr.Mark, thanks for sharing.

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What Are Torrents & How Do They Work?

Torrents allow for decentralized file sharing

Torrents are a method of distributing files over the internet. They operate over the BitTorrent protocol to facilitate what’s called peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing.

There are a number of benefits torrent-based file sharing has over traditional file sharing. Expensive server equipment isn’t necessary to send files to many people at once, and low-bandwidth (slow) networks can just as easily download large sets of data.

The most common way to use torrents is through a special file that uses the .TORRENT file extension. Within the file are directions for how to share specific data with other people.

Torrents Can Be Dangerous

Before we learn more about how torrents work, it’s very important to understand that they also pose a greater risk over other forms of file sharing. You’re much more likely to run across copyrighted files and malware, plus it’s often tough to find trusted sources.

Torrents are an extremely popular way for many people to download and share files, including legitimate businesses and your everyday internet user. Torrents aren’t inherently illegal to use or create, but it’s important to remember that unless you know where to look, it’s far too easy to get involved in malicious or illegal activities.

It doesn’t take long to find a torrent site that helps you download a movie that isn’t even out in theaters yet, or software that would normally cost money. Illegally sharing music, books, and other data is all too common within the BitTorrent community, and attaching malware to the files is easy.

If you’re interested in using torrents to share your own non-copyrighted files or to download large files from other people, stay safe with an antivirus program and only download torrents you know are legal.

How Torrents Are Unique

Torrents are like other forms of downloading to your computer. However, the way in which you get the files isn’t as straightforward, and sharing your own data is much easier.

Here’s an example of how traditional file sharing works over the HTTP protocol:

  1. Visit a web page in your browser.
  2. Click a download link to start the download process.
  3. Save the file to your computer.

The file you downloaded was on a server, probably a high-end one with lots of disk space and other system resources, designed to serve thousands or millions of people at once. The file exists on that one server only, and anyone with access to it can download it.

Torrents work a bit differently. While your web browser connects to websites using the HTTP protocol, torrents use BitTorrent, so a program that can communicate over BitTorrent is needed instead:

  1. Open a torrent program.
  2. Open the TORRENT file to start the download process.
  3. Save the file to your computer.

In this scenario, the data you’re downloading through the torrent might exist on hundreds of servers at once, but these servers are almost always a standard personal computer in a home, just like yours. Advanced hardware isn’t required and anyone can become a participant in this type of file exchange. In fact, anyone who downloads even a portion of the file can now operate as their own torrent server.

How Torrents Work

This all might sound a little confusing but the idea is actually pretty simple. Torrents, as you read above, rely on a peer-to-peer network. This just means that the torrent data, whatever it might be, can exist on more than one server at once. Anyone downloading the torrent gets it in bits and pieces from the other servers.

For example, imagine if I created a torrent to share a program I made. I enable the torrent and share the file online. Dozens of people are downloading it, and you’re one of them. Your torrent program will pick and choose which server to take the file from depending on who’s currently sharing it and which servers have the part of the file that you currently need.

In a traditional file sharing setup that uses a file server, sharing a 200 MB program to 1,000 people would quickly exhaust all of my upload bandwidth, especially if they all requested the file at once. Torrents eliminate this problem by letting clients scrape just a little bit of the data from me, a little bit from another user, and so on until they’ve downloaded the whole file.

Once more than one person has the entire file downloaded, the original sharer can stop distributing it without it affecting anyone else. The file will remain available for any other users of that torrent because of the decentralized, P2P foundation of BitTorrent.

How Torrents Are Distributed

Once a torrent has been made, the creator can share one of two things: the .TORRENT file or a hash of the torrent, often called a magnet link.

A magnet link is a simple way to identify the torrent on the BitTorrent network without having to deal with a TORRENT file. It’s unique to that specific torrent, so although the link is just a string of characters, it’s just as good as having the file.

Magnet links and TORRENT files are often listed on torrent indexes, which are sites built specifically for sharing torrents. You can also share torrent information over email, text, etc.

Since magnet links and TORRENT files are just the instructions for a BitTorrent client to understand how to get the data, sharing them is quick and easy.

Common Torrent Terms

Here are some helpful terms to know if you plan on using torrents:

How to Remove Viruses and Malware on Your Windows PC

Updated November 12, 2018, 11:07am EDT

Whether you saw a message saying a virus was detected, or your computer just seems slow and unreliable, you’ll want to scan for malware on your PC and remove any you find. Here’s how to clean your PC of viruses and malware.

While many viruses and other types of malware are designed simply to cause chaos, more and more malware is created by organized crime to steal credit card numbers, online banking credentials, and other sensitive data. The typical old-school viruses aren’t a real problem. The problem now is ransomware and spyware, and that requires new tools, and new techniques.

Did Your Antivirus Say a Virus Was Detected?

If you saw a message pop up that says a virus was detected, that’s a good thing. Your antivirus noticed a virus and likely removed it without prompting you.

This sort of message doesn’t mean that you ever had a virus running on your computer. You could have downloaded a file that contained a virus and your antivirus removed the file before it could ever cause a problem. Or, a malicious file on an infected web page could have been noticed and dealt with before it caused any problems.

In other words, a “virus detected” message that occurs during normal use of your computer doesn’t mean the virus actually did anything. If you see a message like this, you’re likely visiting an infected web page or downloading a harmful file. Try to avoid doing that in the future, but don’t worry too much.

You can also open your antivirus program and check its quarantine or its virus detection logs. This will show you more information about what virus was detected and what the antivirus did with it. Of course, if you aren’t sure, go ahead and run a scan–it couldn’t hurt.

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How to Scan for Malware, Spyware, Ransomware, Adware, and Other Threats

If your computer is behaving badly—whether it’s running extremely slow, web pages are acting weird, or you’re seeing ads showing up in places that you normally wouldn’t, you probably have some kind of new malware on your computer. Spyware will track everything that you’re doing or redirect your search and home pages to places you don’t want to go. Adware will infect your browser and even Windows, and ransomware will try to lock your PC.

Regardless of what the problem is, our first step is always to download and run a scan with Malwarebytes, the single best anti-malware tool on the planet. It’s not an ordinary antivirus product, it’s designed to solve modern threats. It’s the only product on the market that can easily clean up crapware and spyware.

Download, install, and then run Malwarebytes, and then start a scan of your PC. It’s going to walk you through cleaning up your system.

You don’t have to buy a license to clean up your PC, but if you don’t want this to happen again, you probably should, because it will make sure you don’t have this problem again.

How to Scan for Regular Viruses

To check your computer for malware and remove any malware you find, you’ll need an antivirus program. Windows 10 and 8 include Windows Defender, Microsoft’s own antivirus. Windows 7 doesn’t include any built-in antivirus, so you’re probably going to need something else, like Avira.

Windows Defender is non-intrusive and fine overall, but it’s not the only thing you need. Our favorite antivirus solution is a combination of Windows Defender and Malwarebytes so you have complete coverage.

To scan for regular viruses in Windows Defender, open it up and start a new scan. It’ll go through and fully scan your system to see if there’s anything it missed. And of course, Windows Defender runs in the background by default to


The combination of Windows Defender and Malwarebytes should get rid of the vast majority of malware that you might encounter, and if you have them both running, they should protect you going forward as well.

If Malwarebytes and Windows Defender Weren’t Able to Get Rid of the Malware

Use Safe Mode for Stubborn Malware

If you have a very stubborn malware infection, you may need to scan for malware from outside your normal Windows system. To do that, you’ll need to Boot Windows into Safe Mode, which will keep it from loading normal startup applications–including, hopefully, that nasty malware. Run a Windows Defender scan and then a Malwarebytes scan from within Safe Mode and it may have more luck removing malware it normally can’t.

To boot into Safe Mode on Windows 8 or 10, press and hold the Shift key while clicking the “Restart” option and then navigate to Troubleshoot > Advanced Options > Windows Startup Settings > Restart > Safe Mode. On Windows 7, press the F8 key while your computer is starting and you’ll see a boot options menu that allows you to select “Safe Mode”.

Use a Bootable Antivirus Tool as a Last Resort

If that doesn’t work, you may need to step completely outside of Windows and use a bootable antivirus tool. This type of antivirus tool boots into a clean environment–entirely outside Windows–to find and remove stubborn malware you may not be able to see or remove from within Windows itself.

Windows Defender itself can do this with the “Windows Defender Offline” feature if you’re using Windows 10. You can check out our guide to using Windows Defender Offline here. Other antivirus software can do this too–look for antivirus “boot discs” like the Avira Rescue System. You can check out our guide to using Avira’s Rescue System here.

How to Get a Second Opinion From Windows Defender

If you already have an antivirus program installed, but you think you may have viruses it isn’t detecting, you can get a second opinion from another antivirus product. Usually, it’s a bad idea to run two antivirus programs in tandem, since their real-time scanning can conflict with one another. But if you have one running real-time scanning all the time, you can use a second one you for occasional manual scans.

On Windows 10, Windows Defender is perfect for this. Even if you have another antivirus program installed that’s monitoring your system, Windows Defender can occasionally scan on a schedule–or manually scan when you choose–to see if it can find anything your current antivirus is missing. Here’s a guide to enabling and using that option.

A variety of other antivirus providers make one-time scanning tools available–for example, the ESET Online Scanner. These programs will download to your computer and do a quick scan without a long installation process.

If the scanner alerts you to a problem, you’ll want to remove the malware. If you had a virus, your current antivirus may not be up to the job. You may want to uninstall it and install another antivirus product after the process is complete.

You Should Also Install Malwarebytes to Deal With Adware and Other Junk

As we mentioned in our guide to the best antivirus programs, antivirus isn’t enough–you should also have a more inclusive anti-malware program. Not all nasty software is covered by normal antivirus scanners, which mainly search for harmful infections. You may have “junkware” on your system like browser toolbars, search engine changers, Bitcoin miners, and other types of obnoxious programs that just exist to make their creator money. Watch out when downloading programs from the web, so your PC isn’t filled with obnoxious toolbars and other junkware.

But if you have junkware on your system already, you’ll want to remove them.

Most antivirus programs won’t bother touching junkware. To deal with junkware, we recommend getting MalwareBytes Anti-Malware. As long as you occasionally use it it to scan your system, you’ll be able to keep yourself free of obnoxious software that isn’t detected or removed by your average antivirus program. And since it includes anti-exploit protection, it can keep you safe going forward as well.

How to Wipe Your Computer (and Verify Your Backups)

If nothing can remove the viruses properly–or if the malware so damaged your system that Windows still isn’t working properly after removing the viruses–you can go for the “nuclear option”: reverting your computer to its factory state. You’ll keep any personal files, but your any installed programs will be removed and your computer’s system settings will be reset to their default state.

On Windows 8 and 10, this is much easier–you can just use the “Reset This PC” feature to reset Windows to its factory default settings. You can find instructions for doing that here. If you’re using a Windows 7 PC, your manufacturer probably provides a restore partition you can access by pressing a certain key during the boot process. Consult your computer’s manual for the exact key you need to press for this.

Warning: Just be sure you have a backup of any important files before wiping your hard drive and reinstalling Windows!

If you’ve had to battle with malware once, try to do everything you can do make this the last time. Install a good antivirus program, keep your computer updated, and avoid running potentially dangerous software. Follow our tips to stay safe online to keep your computer–and personal information–secure.

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