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Help! I'm terrified of dogs! What to do?

travelingdina

New Member
So I'll be walking this June/July, going the Ourense route, hiking solo.

Here's the thing: I am *TERRIFIED* of dogs. (I was bitten when I was little.)

Everyone says, "Carry a stick with you for the dogs." OK, great. What do I *do* with the stick???

I do know: don't run.

Any other advice, please?

How many dogs may I come across?

Can I get something to scare away the dogs?

THANKS!
 
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JohnnieWalker

Nunca se camina solo
Hi - I very much sypmathise with your fear of dogs. Mainly passing farmhouses on this route you will encounter dogs often barking loudly at the approach of a stanger. However they will almost inevitably be chained and/or be behind the fence of the property. I've walked a number of routes and never encountered a problem with dogs on the loose. Some pilgrims carry dog whistles or similar electronic devices - having one of these may provide you with extra reassurance but let me reassure you that contrary to what has become a modern camino myth there aren't packs or even lots of indivudal wild dogs in Spain - I've never seen one!

Best of luck

John
 

ivar

Administrator
Staff member
Hi there,

As John says, you will most likely hear dogs bark most days while walking. Having a dog in the yard is very normal, at least in Galicia. 99% of them are closed in or tied up. Some time the smaller dogs (don't know the race, but you know the ones...) run loose, and they may come over and smell you and then just move on. Dogs are dogs in and outside of Spain.

If you are nervous about this, just bring a stick with you. I think you will figure out how to use it if you need to :)

Buen Camino,
Ivar
 

hartie50

New Member
Hi - My wife and I walked the Silver Route in April and had no encounters with dogs that were threatening. The Spanish tend to chain their dogs (a whole other story!). I would not consider dogs an issue that you need to worry about at all. Buen camino.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
On the whole the above is all true - and I did pass many barking dogs - they just seem to have fun .. and they don't step over their property boundary .. they know how far they can go - the chained ones are very loud (but so would you be if you were chained)-

- but I did meet a pack of five farm dogs (I was still in France though, not Spain - I had no problems at all in Spain) who barred my way and when one of them moved in for the attack I had to respond - I was very scared and it made me angry so instead of backing off and inviting the attack to continue I went for it with my walking pole and it backed down, the cur - the thing is with the stick, be prepared to stick it down its throat ..

Yes, I do care about all creatures and wish none harm, but I am not a victim and I will not be bullied and I do not allow myself to be bitten - especially with Rabies in Europe

one way to avoid conflict is to keep your pace the same and don't look at them, just look straight ahead and keep walking .. it is the staring at them that can produce an angry response.

It is the same with most bullies, if you don't engage they have no one to fight.

But, fear naught, you can carry an anti-dog self defence pepper spray - legal in France and Spain (max 5%) and you can get it posted to your first Refugio or hotel you are staying at so it will be there when you arrive.
I always carry one (actually two) and it is a great comfort - even more so I should think for a woman walking alone.

Visit http://www.pepper-spray-shop.eu/store/ (they use Paypal) they say one of their sprays is enough for a pack of wolves (perhaps also a pack of muggers) - but it is a last resort as although it doesn't cause lasting damage it does cause a lot of pain.

If you want a spray that is effective but is not a pepper spray (and is also legal in the UK) there is a new dye type which sprays a thick and gooey red gel .. you spray it onto the face and the eyes are covered and it stops - temporarily - an attack, time enough to disable the animal or person or run away. It is also a stain and has a uv dye so that an assailant can be traced up to a week or so later - you can buy it on ebay
http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI....37&ih=021&category=20589&ssPageName=WDVW&rd=1
 
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CF 2006,08,09,11,12(2),13(2),14,16(2),18(2) Aragones 11,12,VDLP 11,13,Lourdes 12,Malaga 16,Port 06
I am also terrified of dogs, having been attacked by a pit bull with no provocation.


I've heard some on this forum say if the dog is far enough away, sometimes you can simply bend down as though you are going to pick up a rock, and they will run away. Apparently, they've experienced a good aim or two.

You might laugh, but I watch "The Dog Whisperer" every chance I get and he's addressed this issue on occasion. Here are his suggestions.

He says most dogs barking are just establishing that you are near their territory and will stop when they see you are not approaching 'their' space.

If the dogs are coming closer, the thing he suggests is NO eye contact, NO talking to them, NO touching or moving as though you are going to touch them. To look at them in their eyes is a challenge in dog language.

OU MUST DIG VERY DEEP and NOT show fear because they can smell it.
You must act as though you are the Leader of the Pack and just slowly and steadily walk straight past them.

If they come REALLY close, look straight ahead and continue to move slowly and steadily. Let them sniff you and generally they will retreat once they establish you are not a threat.

If they come at you with open jaws, that's the time the game's over and you give them a whack with your stick... but hopefully it won't come to that.

A whistle might work. It hurts their ears but it also might make them angry.

After saying all of this, I never experienced one vicious dog on the Camino.
But I've kept this filed away "just in case."
 

viajero

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2008
A dog bit me last month just past Gernika on the camino del norte. There was really nothing I could have done--he came flying out of the front yard and bit the back of my leg. I don't carry a walking stick but after that day, I picked up a "dog stick". --Just a stick that I found. It made me feel more comfortable carrying it. Fortunately, I had no other unpleasant run ins with dogs but I would have been prepared to give one a whack if needed. I think if anyone is worried about dogs, carrying a walking stick, or any other stick is a good idea. Although I'm not generally afraid of dogs, after the bite, their barks made me very jumpy.
 
D

Deleted member 3000

Guest
A fellow pilgrim was badly bitten by a dog. After the police took him for medical treatment, they brought him back to the exact spot of the attack, and said that they had to do that under the police regulations. He was very nervous for the first few hundred yards!
 

Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Year of past OR future Camino
Many, various, and continuing.
all these things considered, maybe if you´re really terrified of dogs .. or bedbugs, or lost sleep, or germs, or Germans even... you should reconsider walking the camino. It is very challenging, and it will bring you face-to-face with many of your deepest fears and neuroses, and it will probably beat you up physically.

If you´re not ready for that, you might want to wait on the Camino for a while.
 
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A

Anonymous

Guest
Travelindina - and now you are all scared and you only mentioned one phobia :shock: be not afraid, it's a long walk on signposted trails ... there are lots of people around and it is easy to stay with groups -

go, enjoy! :wink:

actually, looking at the dates you are most likely out there already! :roll:
 

Artemis

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2006, Camino Portuguese 2009
I didn't have a problem with dogs on the Camino but did in the US when I had a job as a meter reader going from house to house reading utility meters. I was bitten 3 or 4 times and actually attacked once when a collie went for my throat. I put my hands up and he managed to bite my chest. I instinctively dug my fingers deep into his neck and it sort of paralyzed him for a moment and he let go. All the bites and the attack were when the owner was present. I guess dogs feel more protective. When the owners weren't present they didn't seem as brave so I would just bend and pick up a stick, rock...anything at all and act as though I were going to throw it and they would back off. I am sure you will be fine even though you occasionally hear of a dog bite it doesn't seem to happen very often at all.
 
D

Deleted member 3000

Guest
The classic whistling-in-the-dark pilgrim joke in France was, "il n'est pas mechant." "He is not vicious," often uttered by the dog owner as the pet lunged for your Achilles tendon...
 

Artemis

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2006, Camino Portuguese 2009
Oh yes, the pit bull who broke his chain and came running at me "wouldn't bite a flea" but he managed to bite me! But then again that was in the States not in Spain.
 
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Hahah.. my attacker was a Cruzan Pit Bull - - I lived in St. Croix at the time.
It was the dog that belonged to my babysitter and had known me for over a year with no problems.
This particular day, I guess it was cranky.
I rang the doorbell... it got up and charged and broke through the screen door, attacking me.
She broke a mop over it's head but it wouldn't let go.
The man of the house finally managed to pry it loose.
I've been afraid of strange dogs since... quite traumatizing for me.
 
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A

Anonymous

Guest
travelingdina said:
Everyone says, "Carry a stick with you for the dogs." OK, great. What do I *do* with the stick???

[Whispers] Hit them with the stick. [End whispers] But don't mention it because all the dog lovers will start howling! I had several encounters with dogs last year, but that was while walking at night. During normal daylight walking hours, for normal people, there isn't usually a problem. Dogs probably know that only weird people walk at night, so they like to give them a hard time. :wink:

Gareth
 

lynnejohn

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances(2005), VDLP(2007), Madrid(2009), Ingles(2009), Sur (2011), VDLP(2011)-partial, VDLP(2014)
All these stories are terrifying to me (deep-rooted phobia of dogs). Having walking 5 caminos, I have to say that although I was confident I could use my poles to defend myself, I was always murmuring the same mantra, over and over "do not make eye contact, do not make eye contact". Of course this only works for those dogs you practically have to step over as they are guarding their farms. Don't think it would work for those canines that unexpectedly charge you either from behind or straight on.
(Deep breaths, do not make eye contact . . . . )

lynne
 

MermaidLilli

Active Member
I had a scary moment with a dog on the Norte.
I took a shortcut mentioned in the guide and I assume this dog rarely sees pilgrims. He managed to get loose from his tie-up and charged at me. He was very large and came up from behind. I did not know the rules but I instinctively walked ahead not looking at him at all. He was so close that with each bark I could feel his breath on my behind and thigh and calf. His lips were curled up, baring his teeth and all that barking and growling had me so scared the hair on my back went up.
I don't know if that emits scared hormones to the dog, but he just stayed behind me at least 200 meters, a very very long time to have this dog there. I thought of the stick I was using but decided not to for fear he would see it as an invitation to fight. I also had nowhere to turn into, for the trail just went ahead.
I don't know if anything terrible could have happened, but I believe that as long as I was not challenging him, he would not attack. It was the scariest moment on my camino (this was my third camino), and only first time I had that kind of run-in. You do see dogs on chains wanting to charge and being pulled back by the chain. One just hopes the chain does not break. They don't.
When walking on the Plata I found a can of that dog-away stuff (in French) and took it to the next albergue. I don't know what kind of results people get with that stuff, but it may provide some relief to you to have it along.
Not to scare you, but there are all kinds of possibilities. I sure don't want any dog to get me, and I am sure no one else here does, but it is not enough of a concern to stop me from walking.
Dreaming of my fourth.
Lillian
 

alipilgrim

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Listed in my signature
I got hairs on the back of my neck reading that story, Lilli. I try to think what I'd do in that situation but don't know if I'd ignore, fight, or run....
 

grilly

Active Member
Shirley McLaine had a lovely story about her way of dealing with dogs. I think she sent them vibrations of love or something along these lines. It worked.

Long ago, two tall dogs started charging me and my two young daughters. Big black slender dogs. Nearly automatically, I turned to them and scolded them in a very stern voice. They veered around and left.

Otherwise, walking the Camino, I have seen many dogs. In France, they bark. In Spain they look incredibly bored at seeing one more pilgrim and don't even care to bark. So, if I were you, i would not worry. A little prayer to St James, to St Francis, maybe, (he preached to dogs, I believe), a litany to all your favorite saints or heroes, wrap yourself in a bubble of protection, and off you go.

Good luck.

claire
 
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Javier Martin

Veteran Member
Gareth Thomas said:
...[Whispers] Hit them with the stick. [End whispers] But don't mention it because all the dog lovers will start howling!....

In my opinion is not a good solution. To hit then you should open your defenses, and they are not stupid, this is the correct momento for them to attack you. The stick is just a defensive tool, the best defensive tool.

Buen Camino,

Javier Martin
Madrid, Spain.
 

newfydog

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Pamplona-Santiago, Le Puy- Santiago, Prague- LePuy, Menton- Toulouse, Menton- Rome, Canterbury- Lausanne, Chemin Stevenson, Voie de Vezelay
I have yet to find one on the Camino which I couldn't have belly up and wagging his tail. Some of them showed some bluster to start and gave up when they saw I could see through their bluff. The bigger the dog, the easier they are to tame.

Sometimes I do run into a nasty dog. I've yet to see one that didn't change tact when I bent down to pick up a rock, even it none were available.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
MermaidLilli said:
I found a can of that dog-away stuff (in French) and took it to the next albergue. I don't know what kind of results people get with that stuff

Well, probably not very good results at all with Spanish dogs, if the can is in French... :D

Gareth
 

Caminando

Veteran Member
I too find dogs a problem, mostly in France. If the dog is really big, it's alarming.

I have a stick which I would freely use, but this may not deter a big dog. I have stoned one or two dogs, which worked well. When walking near Conques, a pack of 4 dogs began to slowly approach, so I did the "picking up a stone" gesture and they sneaked off.

If it were possible, then elimination of the dog would be ideal, plus a jail sentence for the owner, even if the dog only threatens, but does not attack. Who wants to wait to be bitten to find out if the threat is real? No-one should be allowed to have savage animals which can threaten others, but this is a forlorn hope. Some years ago in the UK there was a spate of horrific dog attacks which was shocking.

Here's what professionals do when dogs get out of control....a friend who is a sheep farmer in the UK found that his two working dogs had escaped and killed a number of his neighbour's sheep. He shot them and had to buy 2 more at huge expense.

As a child, I was attacked by a dog and have no time for such dangerous animals. I tried a sonic dog repellent once - it was laughable. Maybe the spray will work, but by then they are too close.
 
D

Deleted member 397

Guest
I remember a fearsome dog-cross between a horse and a hound of the Baskervilles-out of Granada that came sailing over a high fence but making the gesture of picking up a stone always works. I query the submissive not looking in the eyes tactic suggested by some as surely this would be seen as weakness. My worst experience was out of Bourges when a dog came running out of a house and actually slobbered on my calf-it all happened so quickly that I didn;t react. My policy is if the dog is close enough to bite kill the bastard-being stuck out in the middle of nowhere with a potentially rabid dog and first seeing if it is dangerous before taking action seems pretty dumb.There have been a spate of dog attacks here in australia recently by family pets that 'won't bite' but have severely mauled children of the family-why take the risk?
 
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Anonymous

Guest
grilly said:
A little prayer to St James, to St Francis, maybe, (he preached to dogs, I believe)

omar504 said:
My policy is if the dog is close enough to bite kill the bastard

Oh dear... Can I suggest a compromise? Start by reading the dog the story of St Francis and the wolf of Gubbio. If the dog still bites you, hit it with the St Francis book.

Gareth
 

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