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What to do with aggressive dogs

Camino(s) past & future
Plan to walk around 2022
I’ve seen threads on this topic buried in miscellaneous threads, but I think it’s worth having a stand alone thread in Personal Safety. Lots of people run into dogs on the Camino who are fiercely protecting territory or livestock and some even bitten. The best way to deal with them can be a bit counterintuitive. Here’s some great advice from a wise vet:

WHAT TO DO IF THREATENED BY AN AGGRESSIVE DOG: BE A TREE!
1) Remain calm and still. Don't run. This is a race you will not win. If you are alone, back away slowly. Do not turn your back.
2) If you are on the ground, curl into a fetal position, cover your head with your arms, and keep your fingers curled in a fist.
3) Avoid eye contact. Remember, staring an aggressive dog in the eyes is a challenge.
4) Do not smile at the dog
5) Use a soft, soothing tone of voice. Loud, angry-sounding words and screaming only spur on the dog.
6) If he bites you, DO NOT PULL AWAY. This only spurs the dog on. Remain calm. Try to put something between you and the dog like your purse, jacket, bicycle, backpack, etc. Don't hit the dog. Again, just makes the situation worse.

WHAT TO DO IF YOU GET BITTEN
1) If the bite is serious, call 911.
2) Wash the bite wound thoroughly with soap and water. If the wound is deep, painful, discolored, or swollen, contact your medical professional.
3) If possible, confirm the dog's rabies vaccination status.
4) Report the bite to your local authorities and veterinarian.
 

MichelleElynHogan

Veteran Member
This is a very complex topic. Hoping we have more experts to teach us. Dogs will attack for any one of three reasons; fear, defending property, (or protect Master, or other dog in pack), or hunger. I know pepper (table variety), works, if the dog(s) can be kept at bay till it can be blown their way, but hoping there are better methods, like tossing some pieces of sausage or something?

First thought is to back away, as mentioned but back to a wall or any other object that can protect your back. From there, it is front and sides to defend. Remaining quiet is something that does not feel right. HELP!!!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Plan to walk around 2022
I know remaining quiet doesn’t feel right, your instincts are to get the heck outta there... but you have to remember a dog is also aggressive when fearful. If you start yelling and flailing about, you will frighten them more. Be a Tree and wait. Stay calm. Eventually the dogs will also calm down, allowing you to slowly back away.
 

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
I remember advice given here on this forum for Spanish dogs that picking up a stone or swing a walking pole might do the trick because they are used to this from their owners and they know it hurts. Sad but it is what it is. Better that than bitten.

From my experience most of the bigger (working or watch) dogs won't attack if you get out of their territory. The small ones are nasty. Lack of self-confidence I guess ;)
 

GettingThere

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Roncesvalles-SdC Apr-Jun 2015
Roncesvalles-Sarria Sep-Oct 2017
(Apr -Jun 2019: Roncesvalles-SdC)

Kurt5280

Crazy Enough To Try It Again!
Camino(s) past & future
Frances: SJPDP to Finisterre & Muxia 9/15 (MTB) - Norte: Bayonne to Muxia & Finisterre 9/18 (MTB)
My advise...since most dogs will attack from the rear...look the dog in the eye...keep moving away slowly backwards...and if that does not work...carry a small knife...only once on the Camino between Finisterre and Muxia did I almost have to use the knife...it was a large farm dog thought it owned the road between the house and the barn on opposite sides of the road.
 

Robo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2020)
I know remaining quiet doesn’t feel right, your instincts are to get the heck outta there... but you have to remember a dog is also aggressive when fearful. If you start yelling and flailing about, you will frighten them more. Be a Tree and wait. Stay calm. Eventually the dogs will also calm down, allowing you to slowly back away.
Have you actually tried this Michelle?

Part of me senses that there is a stage to 'up the ante' and be aggressive back. Firm eye contact, firm voice etc. Staying submissive doesn't feel right.
And Yes I'm a dog owner.

I think this is an area where 'Expert' advice is really required. As there are so many 'views and opinions' on the topic...........
 

davebugg

"When I Have Your Wounded" - Dustoff Motto
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2017)
Camino Frances (2018)
Camino Ingles (2019)
Defensively, trekking poles have worked for me to keep a snapping dog from getting close enough to attack. I used it to act as a barrier, not as a flail, keeping the pointy end to the dog and staying oriented toward him as I calmly backed away.

Other times, I have either made exaggerated movements toward picking up a rock and pretending to get ready to hurl it. That technique seemed to work for me for at least a dozen different very aggressive encounters since my teenage years. I first made that connection when, on two different occasions as a kid, the only thing that I thought to do when a big aggressive dog was hurtling my way was to desperately reach for a rock to try and throw; and each time the dog would immediately slow down and stay back, if not outright walk away. From then on, even the pretense of picking up a rock seemed to work.

I have mused on -- but have never tried -- the "fighter jet deploying flare countermeasures" as a dog attack avoidance strategy. This where you keep a pocketful of yummy dog treats in a reachable pocket or pouch, so that as you notice a loose dog near to your path, you can throw a couple its way, and beyond, while you slowly and calmly leave its space. :)
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
SJPDP-Finisterre X 2 - 2016 & 2017, El Norte - Irun to Vilalba 2018
Last year as I was walking alone on a Sunday morning between Dumbria and Muxia there was a German Shepherd behind a fence that was barking aggressively. I wasn't too worried, because it was behind a fence. Then I saw the dog jump over a fence of the same height into an adjoining yard. I still continued walking. The dog then jumped over another fence into another yard that wasn't completely fenced in. There was only a chain across a driveway. At this point I was worried! And with good reason, because the dog then started across the street barking and snarling at me. I stood still, raised my poles and shouted NO! Fortunately, the dog stopped, then turned around and retreated to its yard. Since it was a Sunday morning, there were no people out and about, and I wasn't sure how far behind me the pilgrims that I had seen at a bar that I had passed were. I briefly considered walking back so that I could find others to walk with, but the rest of my walk that day was pretty uneventful.
 

MinaKamina

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Jacobspad 2017
Make yourself big. Dogs have a pecking order and will only attack the top dog if they feel he or she is weak. They will however, attack the weaker dogs. Be the top dog. Current top dog in my home is the smallest female. if she can pull it off, so can you. Dog trainer taught us to kick an aggressive dog in the balls with a boot if necessay and run. Never tried it, but a dog's belly below the rib cage is soft and vulnerable.

The advice to check the dog's rabies status is probably American (as is calling 911 :() if you have been bitten by any animal, or have a wound that has been in contact with the soil you should check YOUR OWN Tetanus vaccination ASAP and update it if necessary.

The original author, thank you Google, is Debby Turner Bell, veterinarian turned Miss America turned motivational speaker. She seems more of a PR and TV person than a hands-on dog trainer or someone with local knowledge of the caminos in Spain and Portugal.
 

Robo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2020)
For those who don't trust above messages, a "dog chaser" seems to keep any dog at bay. Can be found at hunters' stores in the larger towns. :eek:
Ordered one ;)
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 to 2018
One point that I did not see made above, if you use walking sticks / poles, or a staff, RAISE / LIFT IT (them) OFF THE GROUND so it (they) does not make contact. STOP waving the poles. Put them / it over a shoulder or hand carry until you are well past the agitated dog.

With all due respect to 'mi amigos españoles,' please allow me to explain. In Spain, many dogs, especially out in the country, on farms or around country homes, are not raised as household pets. They are considered domesticated animals, just like all the other farm animals. Typically, they are not chipped, do not have collars or tags, and are not kept groomed like a regular household pet, and live outside or in outbuildings away from the house. They are 'working dogs.' Their role is to protect the livestock, repel unwanted pests and visitors, and to provide early warning of same to the owner. Not all owners treat their animals like this, but out in the country likely most do.

The reason for this admonition regarding using any stick or pole near a dog is that, when these dogs are young, they are too frequently trained to behave through use of a cane to whack them into submission. Hence, they regard the swinging cane as a direct and painful threat, one that has been used on them in the past.

Clearly, they do not like it. It agitates them. This is understandable. They are conditioned to fear the stick. The swinging of hiking poles or a staff just sets them off. So, do not do this.

As soon as you see a dog up ahead, hoist the pole quietly and silently walk by. I also like to talk calmly to the dog in my best Spanish, telling them that they are a "usted es un perro muy bueno," (you are a good dog); "be calm" (tranquilo...); "be silent" (silencio) or if they start to follow me..."va a la casa" (GO HOME)!

The combination of speaking calmly and softely and NOT using the poles in their eyesight works for me every time.

Of course, as above, if a dog is NOT deterred and actually charges you, well, that is one of the secondary uses for your poles...not to hurt the dog, but to fend it off.

I hope this helps.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Nearly every year since 2006, often walking more than one route. 2018 was Camino #14
Best advice I've ever gotten, and USED, is from Rebekah of Moratiños, who told me to pick up a rock.
You never have to throw it.
Farm dogs know what a rock is and they'll retreat.
So far it has worked every time.
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese.
I have walked the Camino Frances five and a half times. I have never encountered an unchained aggressive dog on it. They are so bored by pilgrims they can barely raise their heads as you pass.

If you go "off piste" or take a really uncommon alternative, like the Dragonte to O Cebreiro, you might encounter a troublesome dog. But on the standard route? Unlikely.
 

rvv

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
(2018)
After being seriously attacked by three dogs at the same time (during a training walk in the hills) I promised myself: "this will never happen to me again". Bought one of these (http://www.dazer2.com/) and unfortunately had to use it twice during a later training walk.
Simple and short verdict: WORKS!!
I have it now prmanently clipped on a belt from my backpack at easy reach.
 

Karl Oz

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances
Portuguese
Aragones
Sanabres
Piamonte
Elizabethpfad
I have walked the Camino Frances five and a half times. I have never encountered an unchained aggressive dog on it. They are so bored by pilgrims they can barely raise their heads as you pass.

If you go "off piste" or take a really uncommon alternative, like the Dragonte to O Cebreiro, you might encounter a troublesome dog. But on the standard route? Unlikely.
The only time I encountered an unchained aggressive dog on the CF was in O Cebreiro itself! A couple of other times I was very relieved that a fence or strong chain prevented an attack. Maybe picking-up a rock, real or imaginary, will be a tactic I will employ if threatened again. Although, I'm not sure how the locals in Cebreiro would react to me publicly stoning their animals in the main street(!)
 
Camino(s) past & future
Nearly every year since 2006, often walking more than one route. 2018 was Camino #14
After being seriously attacked by three dogs at the same time (during a training walk in the hills) I promised myself: "this will never happen to me again". Bought one of these (http://www.dazer2.com/) and unfortunately had to use it twice during a later training walk.
Simple and short verdict: WORKS!!
I have it now prmanently clipped on a belt from my backpack at easy reach.
This sounds like an interesting option.
 

Stephen Nicholls

Steve Nicholls, Suffolk, U.K.
Camino(s) past & future
Too many caminos to list in the permitted 100 characters!!
After being seriously attacked by three dogs at the same time (during a training walk in the hills) I promised myself: "this will never happen to me again". Bought one of these (http://www.dazer2.com/) and unfortunately had to use it twice during a later training walk.
Simple and short verdict: WORKS!! I have it now prmanently clipped on a belt from my backpack at easy reach.
I ALWAYS carry one, and have used it twice. And, yes, it worked. My advice to "RVV" is - make sure the battery's replaced from time to time. I also use my walking pole to deter any approaching wild dogs - straight into the face if necessary.
There may be few dangerous dogs on the CF - but I have encountered many on the more remote caminos, and there are also packs of wild dogs. We had these packs coming in the garden when we lived in Spain.
Having said all that, I'm still starting to plan my last camino - Portuguese Coastal - for April/May 2019!
Buen camino - sin perros!
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 to 2018
These 'extra' dog repellent devices are nice and all, but they have a weight penalty. My approach weighs nothing and does work. But, to each their own...;)
 

celinehenriette

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Zwolle - Rome 2013
Jacobsweg Austria 2018
Camino Frances 2018
Camino Portugues 2018
Finisterre 2018
I'm all for being friendly to animals, but when I had 5 huge dogs running my way with every intention having me as dinner I had no choice but to hit the first one with my hiking pole. I guess he was the boss, because it made the rest run away. The dog I hit could also run away, I don't think I hit him too hard They where probably scared of hiking poles ever since. I still feel guilty but like my bones to stay on the inside of my skin. I was walking on a public road and there was no one around to help.
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015); Ch. d'Arles: Oloron Ste Marie to Aragones; Frances (2016); V.d.l.P.; Sanabres (2017)
I have had a ferocious dog come after me on the Camino Frances, dragging behind it the chain and anchor which it had pulled out of the ground in its eagerness to get at me. I froze, which is my usual response to any threat [other than traffic]. The dog took up a position close behind my right shoulder and barked loudly. I do not see how anyone can avoid a dog getting behind them, as the dog chooses its position. After a few minutes, I started to walk away very slowly. The dog followed close behind barking. Eventually, it must have decided that I was out of its territory and ceased to follow. I suspect that I shall do the same in future, if threatened by a large dog, or any other animal which I cannot outrun, which is most of them. I like the idea of making myself look larger but am not sure how to do so. Should I put my hands up in the "I surrender" position? I doubt if I could remember my Spanish when faced with a canine threat. How do you say, "Nice doggie" in Spanish?
 

spagirl

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
frances(Sept 2018)
Remember that a dog has a job to do. Respect that. Approach a dog ( fenced in or not) by giving them space. Cross the street, move away from their path in a wide circular motion. This shows that you aren't attempting to enter their space. DO NOT look them in they eye- this is a challenge.
If it looks like you may get bit making an ' X' with your arms ( or better yet use your poles) in front of your chest/face. This motion protects all of your vital organs and your face. If the attach continues drop to a fetal position.
 

Robo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2020)
The only problem we ever had with Dogs was in A Brea (the one just before O Pedrouzo).
A 'pack' of 4 or 5 quite small dogs came at us on the track. About the size of Beagles. Very agressive and certainly wanting to take a lump out of us.

We both picked up stout sticks and backed away maintaining eye contact with them and they backed off.

All the while the farmer was 20 meters away in a field......

These dogs have been mentioned before.

All other dogs were fine. Some noisy, but we just ignored them and walked on.
 

Nomad Pack

Palm Oil = Dead Orangutan's
Camino(s) past & future
Everywhere with Donkeys and Dogs
So I'd like to offer some advice. I have a Spanish mastiff and a German Shepherd. I've spent two years (2013-2015) working in Cairo with my Shepherd and training dogs for chemical trace detection.
Some of the advice here is correct and other advice is going to make things worse. The point that needs to be made clear firstly is what breed you are dealing with. The Spanish mastiff is the most likely breed that will come charging towards you out in the open, as already mentioned they a commonly used in the north of Spain as livestock guardians. When you are dealing with a mastiff that is coming towards you should carry on walking slowly and pay him no attention, don't look at him and don't talk to him. Generally the Spanish mastiff will put on a big show of barking until you move away then go back to his herd. However if he blocks your path or comes close to you then you must stand still, do not look at him and just remain calm and quiet. He is deciding whether or not you are a threat. The mastiff will not bite you unless you act aggressively. It is important to understand that the mastiff is pretty much fearless and if your to be stupid enough to throw rocks at him or shout then you are making him think you are a threat. When I go into a town for supplies I often leave Puppy (my Spanish mastiff) to guard the donkey and my camp. I rarely camp where people will pass by but occasionally hunters or walkers do. Puppy will make a big show of barking whilst keeping his distance and allow passage so long as they keep away from the tent. Mastiff's think situations through thoroughly and won't attack without good reason. NEVER show aggression or shout at a mastiff, he will not back down and will show even more aggression in response. In the mountains they rely on the ferocity of their barking as a first defense to deter wolves from the herd. However if the wolf does not leave then the mastiff will charge and commit to chasing away or killing the wolf.
BUT... If you are not dealing with a mastiff then what is the best option. Again it will depend on the situation, in 99% of case's a dog will not bite you unless you give it a reason. The best way to avoid any problems is quite simply to stay still, don't acknowledge the dog and wait for him to leave. If you are not scared then don't bother standing still, just calmly continue on your way. Medium to small breeds with the exception of pitbull breeds can usually be scared away with loud shouting and aggressive movements but you are unlikely to be troubled by smaller dogs anyway. Chances are your cameo will be trouble free as farmers wouldn't put mastiffs in fields with public access for obvious reasons. Once again I stress the importance of remaining still and calm. Screaming or hysterical behavior will just excite the dog more and give it reason to consider you as a threat.
Think how you would react if someone knocked on your front door and starts shouting at you whilst waving a big stick around. IMG_20180118_143616.jpg
 
D

Deleted member 12253

Guest
I’ve seen threads on this topic buried in miscellaneous threads, but I think it’s worth having a stand alone thread in Personal Safety. Lots of people run into dogs on the Camino who are fiercely protecting territory or livestock and some even bitten. The best way to deal with them can be a bit counterintuitive. Here’s some great advice from a wise vet:

WHAT TO DO IF THREATENED BY AN AGGRESSIVE DOG: BE A TREE!
1) Remain calm and still. Don't run. This is a race you will not win. If you are alone, back away slowly. Do not turn your back.
2) If you are on the ground, curl into a fetal position, cover your head with your arms, and keep your fingers curled in a fist.
3) Avoid eye contact. Remember, staring an aggressive dog in the eyes is a challenge.
4) Do not smile at the dog
5) Use a soft, soothing tone of voice. Loud, angry-sounding words and screaming only spur on the dog.
6) If he bites you, DO NOT PULL AWAY. This only spurs the dog on. Remain calm. Try to put something between you and the dog like your purse, jacket, bicycle, backpack, etc. Don't hit the dog. Again, just makes the situation worse.

WHAT TO DO IF YOU GET BITTEN
1) If the bite is serious, call 911.
2) Wash the bite wound thoroughly with soap and water. If the wound is deep, painful, discolored, or swollen, contact your medical professional.
3) If possible, confirm the dog's rabies vaccination status.
4) Report the bite to your local authorities and veterinarian.
Dogs were here long before perigrinos leave them alone
 

MinaKamina

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Jacobspad 2017
So I'd like to offer some advice. I have a Spanish mastiff and a German Shepherd. I've spent two years (2013-2015) working in Cairo with my Shepherd and training dogs for chemical trace detection.
Some of the advice here is correct and other advice is going to make things worse. The point that needs to be made clear firstly is what breed you are dealing with. The Spanish mastiff is the most likely breed that will come charging towards you out in the open, as already mentioned they a commonly used in the north of Spain as livestock guardians. When you are dealing with a mastiff that is coming towards you should carry on walking slowly and pay him no attention, don't look at him and don't talk to him. Generally the Spanish mastiff will put on a big show of barking until you move away then go back to his herd. However if he blocks your path or comes close to you then you must stand still, do not look at him and just remain calm and quiet. He is deciding whether or not you are a threat. The mastiff will not bite you unless you act aggressively. It is important to understand that the mastiff is pretty much fearless and if your to be stupid enough to throw rocks at him or shout then you are making him think you are a threat. When I go into a town for supplies I often leave Puppy (my Spanish mastiff) to guard the donkey and my camp. I rarely camp where people will pass by but occasionally hunters or walkers do. Puppy will make a big show of barking whilst keeping his distance and allow passage so long as they keep away from the tent. Mastiff's think situations through thoroughly and won't attack without good reason. NEVER show aggression or shout at a mastiff, he will not back down and will show even more aggression in response. In the mountains they rely on the ferocity of their barking as a first defense to deter wolves from the herd. However if the wolf does not leave then the mastiff will charge and commit to chasing away or killing the wolf.
BUT... If you are not dealing with a mastiff then what is the best option. Again it will depend on the situation, in 99% of case's a dog will not bite you unless you give it a reason. The best way to avoid any problems is quite simply to stay still, don't acknowledge the dog and wait for him to leave. If you are not scared then don't bother standing still, just calmly continue on your way. Medium to small breeds with the exception of pitbull breeds can usually be scared away with loud shouting and aggressive movements but you are unlikely to be troubled by smaller dogs anyway. Chances are your cameo will be trouble free as farmers wouldn't put mastiffs in fields with public access for obvious reasons. Once again I stress the importance of remaining still and calm. Screaming or hysterical behavior will just excite the dog more and give it reason to consider you as a threat.
Think how you would react if someone knocked on your front door and starts shouting at you whilst waving a big stick around. View attachment 41238

Hi. Thank you for posting this, and great dogs too. Puppy lives up to his name, and I would not be surprised if the shepherd is called Baby. :cool::cool: If I understand your post well, the dogs that you describe are not aggressive, they are just doing their work. IMO this is different from an encounter with an aggressive dog who will come after you - and possibly attack - no matter what. The way I understand the title, this thread is about the second type, the abnormal behaviour.
IMO again it is important to know the difference between the two types and not assume immediately that a barking dog is aggressive because he makes one feel uncomfortable.
 
Camino(s) past & future
2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017,2018, (2019)
A very interesting post and thread, but slightly confusing nonetheless. It reminds me of a time when I visited the Canadian Rockies + read an information board about the wildlife in the Jasper/Banff national park area, including what to do it confronted by a black or a brown bear. Basically, it stated that if faced by a black bear one should stand still and effectively play dead, whereas when faced with a brown bear the advice was to more-or-less run for your life. The advice seemed very clear and unambiguous until an extra line underneath delivered the devastating proviso that it is not always easy to spot the difference between a black and a brown bear!!!


(n.b. I may have mixed-up the survival strategies when faced with the two types of bears, but the basic message is clear - go with your instincts!)
 

djudal

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2018
Last year as I was walking alone on a Sunday morning between Dumbria and Muxia there was a German Shepherd behind a fence that was barking aggressively. I wasn't too worried, because it was behind a fence. Then I saw the dog jump over a fence of the same height into an adjoining yard. I still continued walking. The dog then jumped over another fence into another yard that wasn't completely fenced in. There was only a chain across a driveway. At this point I was worried! And with good reason, because the dog then started across the street barking and snarling at me. I stood still, raised my poles and shouted NO! Fortunately, the dog stopped, then turned around and retreated to its yard. Since it was a Sunday morning, there were no people out and about, and I wasn't sure how far behind me the pilgrims that I had seen at a bar that I had passed were. I briefly considered walking back so that I could find others to walk with, but the rest of my walk that day was pretty uneventful.
My defense with loose and aggresive dogs have always worked thus far. They seem to understand the tone, not necessarily the language, of command. So, I very firmly give a command of 'No', 'Go home', or some such command. A strong, firm, and commanding tone has been the key for me.
 

Wiebmer

Ning Wiebmer
Camino(s) past & future
2015 Frances, 500 miles. 2016 Via Francigena, 200 miles. 2018 Frances Burgos to Sarria.
One point that I did not see made above, if you use walking sticks / poles, or a staff, RAISE / LIFT IT (them) OFF THE GROUND so it (they) does not make contact. STOP waving the poles. Put them / it over a shoulder or hand carry until you are well past the agitated dog.

With all due respect to 'mi amigos españoles,' please allow me to explain. In Spain, many dogs, especially out in the country, on farms or around country homes, are not raised as household pets. They are considered domesticated animals, just like all the other farm animals. Typically, they are not chipped, do not have collars or tags, and are not kept groomed like a regular household pet, and live outside or in outbuildings away from the house. They are 'working dogs.' Their role is to protect the livestock, repel unwanted pests and visitors, and to provide early warning of same to the owner. Not all owners treat their animals like this, but out in the country likely most do.

The reason for this admonition regarding using any stick or pole near a dog is that, when these dogs are young, they are too frequently trained to behave through use of a cane to whack them into submission. Hence, they regard the swinging cane as a direct and painful threat, one that has been used on them in the past.

Clearly, they do not like it. It agitates them. This is understandable. They are conditioned to fear the stick. The swinging of hiking poles or a staff just sets them off. So, do not do this.

As soon as you see a dog up ahead, hoist the pole quietly and silently walk by. I also like to talk calmly to the dog in my best Spanish, telling them that they are a "usted es un perro muy bueno," (you are a good dog); "be calm" (tranquilo...); "be silent" (silencio) or if they start to follow me..."va a la casa" (GO HOME)!

The combination of speaking calmly and softely and NOT using the poles in their eyesight works for me every time.

Of course, as above, if a dog is NOT deterred and actually charges you, well, that is one of the secondary uses for your poles...not to hurt the dog, but to fend it off.

I hope this helps.
I LOVED this! Learn a little "Doggie Spanish". I know that some writers have written of "numerous" aggressive dogs on the Camino, but all of the (HUGE) farm dogs we've seen have been amazingly calm and passive. We don't try to pet them or anything like that. In fact, we looked at them with a little envy since our dogs have never been that well behaved.
 

Nekodemus

Certified insane
Camino(s) past & future
Been there, done that. Keep coming back.
Most likely addicted.
The only (semi)aggressive dogs I've encountered on the Camino, were smallish dogs hunting pilgrims for the heck of it. The larger ones couldn't be bothered.
Every single one (also small packs) of those yappers was easily scared off, just by walking towards them with a loud voice and an angry posture.
On my last trip, I had great fun chasing a pack of small pilgrim-hunting dogs away from the others I was walking with, some of which were scared stiff by dogs hardly reaching half way up my shin. All while laughing merrily inside. Hero of the day over a storm in a glass of water :D
But then again, I'm quite familiar with dogs and with training police dogs.
 

cbacino

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino del Norte - Primitivo (2018)
Via Francigena (2017)
Appalachian Trail (2016)
I was circled by six large farm dogs last year in France and kept them at bay jabbing at them with my trekking poles. Don't let any aggressive animals closer than the end of your carbide-tipped poles.
 
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RJM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few times
Hmmm....
I have never had a bad encounter with a dog in the Camino. Never had one snarl or act aggressive to me in any way. In fact my encounters have only involved playing with dogs on the Camino, including a mastiff.
Future pilgrims reading this thread, don't be concerned about dogs on the Camino.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
SJPDP-Finisterre X 2 - 2016 & 2017, El Norte - Irun to Vilalba 2018
Hmmm....
I have never had a bad encounter with a dog in the Camino. Never had one snarl or act aggressive to me in any way. In fact my encounters have only involved playing with dogs on the Camino, including a mastiff.
Future pilgrims reading this thread, don't be concerned about dogs on the Camino.
Just because you've never had a bad encounter with a dog doesn't mean that it doesn't happen!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Plan to walk around 2022
Have you actually tried this Michelle?

Part of me senses that there is a stage to 'up the ante' and be aggressive back. Firm eye contact, firm voice etc. Staying submissive doesn't feel right.
And Yes I'm a dog owner.

I think this is an area where 'Expert' advice is really required. As there are so many 'views and opinions' on the topic...........
The advice I have posted is expert veterinary advice and is consistent with advice and discussions with a number of expert dog trainers I’ve spoken with. I worked in the retail pet industry for years and had the occasion to work with a number of trainers. I’ve gone on to my current job as a child protection worker, where I encounter potentially hostile dogs in their home environments regularly. I’ve used this advice numerous times, and it’s saved my bacon more than once.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Plan to walk around 2022
Make yourself big. Dogs have a pecking order and will only attack the top dog if they feel he or she is weak. They will however, attack the weaker dogs. Be the top dog. Current top dog in my home is the smallest female. if she can pull it off, so can you. Dog trainer taught us to kick an aggressive dog in the balls with a boot if necessay and run. Never tried it, but a dog's belly below the rib cage is soft and vulnerable.

The advice to check the dog's rabies status is probably American (as is calling 911 :() if you have been bitten by any animal, or have a wound that has been in contact with the soil you should check YOUR OWN Tetanus vaccination ASAP and update it if necessary.

The original author, thank you Google, is Debby Turner Bell, veterinarian turned Miss America turned motivational speaker. She seems more of a PR and TV person than a hands-on dog trainer or someone with local knowledge of the caminos in Spain and Portugal.
Fair enough. I chose that particular material to quote because it seemed simply worded and easy to follow without a lot of extraneous information, but also because it succinctly captured all of the other advice I’d learned from other trainers. I had no idea that well intended advice was going to be so controversial!
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 to 2018
I am on the Invierno at present, in Rodeiro, three more days to Santiago. I’ve encountered dozens of territorial, barking dogs. But none that posed any real threat... until today. My ‘dog whisperer’ technique, mentioned above worked great.

Today however, something entirely new happened. I was walking through some small farming hamlets before Rodeiro, they seem to have the largest and noisiest dogs.

Actually, I made a wrong turn and was using Google Maps to get out of the temporary dilemma. I was never lost, just not where I wanted to be.

First a HUGE dog, beautiful really, was behind a fence, and I was folllowing my own advice. The dog went quiet. I proceeded to walk away, out of his territory. Five minutes later the dog is trotting up to me. I heard his nails on the pavement and turned my head to catch him gaining on me.

He got out of his fenced yard and barked me about 300 meters down the country road, before stopping and turning back. All the while, I held my poles up, both in one hand, while walking and talking in Spanish. After a minute or two, he was convinced I was no threat and let me be.

Thirty minutes later, I am minding my own business, when all of a sudden from maybe a meter behind me, there comes a VERY LOUD barking. There was a HUGE red, setter mix, directly on my heels. I was walking along with my rubber tipped poles and did not see him.

This fellow scared the crap out of me! Well, figuratively anyway. Talk about shock and surprise!

Well, I hoisted the poles so they were not waiving and assured this very territorial dog that “yes, he was a very good dog and that I was leaving...etc.”

It made for an interesting day...dog wise...
 

Lurch

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
looking at 2018-2019
A very interesting post and thread, but slightly confusing nonetheless. It reminds me of a time when I visited the Canadian Rockies + read an information board about the wildlife in the Jasper/Banff national park area, including what to do it confronted by a black or a brown bear. Basically, it stated that if faced by a black bear one should stand still and effectively play dead, whereas when faced with a brown bear the advice was to more-or-less run for your life. The advice seemed very clear and unambiguous until an extra line underneath delivered the devastating proviso that it is not always easy to spot the difference between a black and a brown bear!!!

I
(n.b. I may have mixed-up the survival strategies when faced with the two types of bears, but the basic message is clear - go with your instincts!)
Mix them up you did. A griz will tear you up but a black will eat you. Staying still for one will only give the bear a chance to decide where the tenderest part of you is. Bre’r Griz bigger than a black/brown/cinnamon b’ar, has a hump and just looks meaner, cause he is!
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
I have walked the Camino Frances five and a half times. I have never encountered an unchained aggressive dog on it. They are so bored by pilgrims they can barely raise their heads as you pass.

If you go "off piste" or take a really uncommon alternative, like the Dragonte to O Cebreiro, you might encounter a troublesome dog. But on the standard route? Unlikely.
It used to be unexceptional, before the 2000s, to encounter such dogs on the Francès.

But these dogs now know that it's our territory.
 

AJGuillaume

Pélerin du monde
Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
The advice here is all nice and good, but for a sufferer of cynophobia such as myself, there is no way I can recall all the theory, and whether I have to stand still or walk away, talk to the dog or not. I couldn't care less if you've walked umpteen Camino's and never encountered a nasty dog: I've walked in my neighbourhood and encountered plenty of dogs who were doing what they're supposed to do.
I can control myself with a dog behind a fence, but a dog on the loose will unfortunately trigger fear, and I have been told many times that dogs will sense this and take advantage.
I think I like the idea of the dog chaser: if that can keep them away from me, I'll have a better Camino.
I must admit, this is the only concern I have: we're walking the via Gebennensis, the via Podiensis, the Voie Nive-Bidassoa, the Camino del Norte, 2000km, and I'm not worried about anything else but being bitten by a dog.
Buen Camino.
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
It's a difficult topic.

Canine psychology is hard to understand, especially to those who haven't understood even the human one.

Dogs are territorial, so they can act aggressively at their territorial boundaries. Respect these limits, but push away any dog that encroaches onto our own Camino.

Dogs have an alpha male, their master, so you need to respect that man in relation to the dog, but also ensure that the dog knows that you too are an alpha male or an off-limits alpha b*tch (using this word in its literal meaning, sorry peregrinas). Trivially easy in most cases when that master is there, not always so when not.

Dogs become aggressive when threatened, so do not threaten dogs unnecessarily (this is the reason for the no smiling rule, at least no smiling with your teeth bared) -- but there's no single way to resolve defensive aggression. Ideally, help the dog understand it's not threatened. Less ideally, ensure that the dog knows that you are the bigger threat between it and you.

There are some violently aggressive dogs on the loose, and with these, unless you can win a face-off whereby they'll either pass you by hatefully yet peaceably or scuttle off tail in their legs, then you need to be prepared to do violence upon them. It's a major reason why the big stick is part of the traditional pilgrim's kit.

There are some other techniques for dealing with dogs, but if anyone needs to learn the above, then they won't understand the rest, and describing them might confuse rather than help.

Given the forum that this is, I can't leave unmentioned the possibility of trying to talk with the dog's spirit to calm it down. Though some dogs remain reticent even when you do so.
 

MinaKamina

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Jacobspad 2017
As an owner of a small, sweet, yorkie who never barks... I am a little anxious about running into big loose dogs. Aside from the dogs, I've seen pictures of horses roaming around on the trails too. Do they go about their business and not mind the pilgrims?
Do you plan to take your dog? You meet big dogs at home, how do you react when you are with your Yorkie? Lift him up? Put him in a pocket? Backpack?

No one can make a prediction with any certainty about the dogs, horses or cows that you will meet. You can however make a plan what you will do in case of an aggressive dog and how you will keep your yourself and your dog safe.
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few times
As an owner of a small, sweet, yorkie who never barks... I am a little anxious about running into big loose dogs. Aside from the dogs, I've seen pictures of horses roaming around on the trails too. Do they go about their business and not mind the pilgrims?
No need to be anxious. I have yet to see any animal on the Camino interact negatively with a pilgrim.
Actually there is nothing at all about walking the Camino to be anxious about.
Cheers.
 

Anamiri

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances
As an owner of a small, sweet, yorkie who never barks... I am a little anxious about running into big loose dogs. Aside from the dogs, I've seen pictures of horses roaming around on the trails too. Do they go about their business and not mind the pilgrims?
If you mean the horses you meet on the Pyrenees , they were very chill, vaguely interested in us, but not really.
 

Gabe_Way

Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'm starting CF from SPDP on May 5th, 2019
(Walking)
My advise...since most dogs will attack from the rear...look the dog in the eye...keep moving away slowly backwards...and if that does not work...carry a small knife...only once on the Camino between Finisterre and Muxia did I almost have to use the knife...it was a large farm dog thought it owned the road between the house and the barn on opposite sides of the road.
What did he do? And how did you handle the situation? How did you manage to pass by and go through your way?
 

Gabe_Way

Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'm starting CF from SPDP on May 5th, 2019
(Walking)
These 'extra' dog repellent devices are nice and all, but they have a weight penalty. My approach weighs nothing and does work. But, to each their own...;)
And would you mind sharing what your approach is so we can use it too if necessary? :)
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 to 2018
Refer to my previous post, at #13 in the thread above. All posts have a sequential number off to the right of the top line. This should be post #50.

My previous is at #13. I explain my method at more length there.

Hope this helps.
 

Gabe_Way

Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'm starting CF from SPDP on May 5th, 2019
(Walking)
Refer to my previous post, at #13 in the thread above. All posts have a sequential number off to the right of the top line. This should be post #50.

My previous is at #13. I explain my method at more length there.

Hope this helps.
Thanks! Yeah! Sorry to bother :/
 

Kurt5280

Crazy Enough To Try It Again!
Camino(s) past & future
Frances: SJPDP to Finisterre & Muxia 9/15 (MTB) - Norte: Bayonne to Muxia & Finisterre 9/18 (MTB)
What did he do? And how did you handle the situation? How did you manage to pass by and go through your way?
I got lost between Finisterre and Muxia so I was pushing my mountain bike uphill on a paved road that went through a large farm...on my left there was a large metal barn for tractor equipment and outside there was a farmer working on his tractor and a farm dog (40+ lbs) watching him...as I passed on the road the farm dog noticed me but was not interested...further down after passing the barn the farmer threw a tool and started yelling and when I looked back the farm dog was approaching low and fast behind me...I reversed my bike between the farm dog and myself and started yelling to the farmer...eventually the farm dog went back to the barn...then I walked up the road another 100 yards and the farm dog was approaching low and fast behind me again...so again I reversed my bike between the farm dog and myself and started yelling to the farmer...and eventually the farm dog went back to the barn again...finally I walked up the road another 100 yards and the farm dog was approaching low and fast behind me...but this time very determined...however I was not able to get the bike between the farm dog and myself...so I started yelling to the farmer and grabbed the knife while circling in an opposing manner around my bike that was now thrown down in the middle of the road...apparently the farmer had a cellphone...because he must have called the farmhouse down the road...and his wife came out the front door and called the farm dog for dinner...if it had not been for the farmer his farm dog would have bit me from behind before I knew it...just luck.
 

Derrybiketours

A journey of 500 miles begins with one step!
Camino(s) past & future
SJPdP-SANT-FIN (09/2018)
PORTO-SANT (11/2018)
Caminho Da Fe (01/2019)
*Derry-SANT (09/2019)?
I ALWAYS carry one, and have used it twice. And, yes, it worked. My advice to "RVV" is - make sure the battery's replaced from time to time. I also use my walking pole to deter any approaching wild dogs - straight into the face if necessary.
There may be few dangerous dogs on the CF - but I have encountered many on the more remote caminos, and there are also packs of wild dogs. We had these packs coming in the garden when we lived in Spain.
Having said all that, I'm still starting to plan my last camino - Portuguese Coastal - for April/May 2019!
Buen camino - sin perros!
I walked the France without seeing many aggressive dogs and when I completed I walked the Portuguese Coastal route from Porto and in Northern Portugal aggressive barking dogs where more common. One of them came at me but I adopted the raised walking stick approach roaring back at top of my voice standing tall demonstrating pack leader. The dog made an attempt to bite at my ankle and soon after the walking stick swished past narrowly missing said dogs head. Its owner appeared on the scene and the dog retreated. These dogs should be kept on leads when outside their territory due to the increase in Pilgrim numbers and authorities ought to be penalising irresponsible owner's. Incidentally I had only come across the walking stick before the incident, rescued from a hedgerow, another example of the Camino provides protection. Buen Camino @StephenNicholls
 

Gabe_Way

Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'm starting CF from SPDP on May 5th, 2019
(Walking)
I got lost between Finisterre and Muxia so I was pushing my mountain bike uphill on a paved road that went through a large farm...on my left there was a large metal barn for tractor equipment and outside there was a farmer working on his tractor and a farm dog (40+ lbs) watching him...as I passed on the road the farm dog noticed me but was not interested...further down after passing the barn the farmer threw a tool and started yelling and when I looked back the farm dog was approaching low and fast behind me...I reversed my bike between the farm dog and myself and started yelling to the farmer...eventually the farm dog went back to the barn...then I walked up the road another 100 yards and the farm dog was approaching low and fast behind me again...so again I reversed my bike between the farm dog and myself and started yelling to the farmer...and eventually the farm dog went back to the barn again...finally I walked up the road another 100 yards and the farm dog was approaching low and fast behind me...but this time very determined...however I was not able to get the bike between the farm dog and myself...so I started yelling to the farmer and grabbed the knife while circling in an opposing manner around my bike that was now thrown down in the middle of the road...apparently the farmer had a cellphone...because he must have called the farmhouse down the road...and his wife came out the front door and called the farm dog for dinner...if it had not been for the farmer his farm dog would have bit me from behind before I knew it...just luck.
Ok then, I'll avoid doing that route like the plague! Thanks for sharing.
 

Telboyo

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
I intend to leave the UK the day Before Brexit and walkMarch -April 2019 Camino Frances
I’ve seen threads on this topic buried in miscellaneous threads, but I think it’s worth having a stand alone thread in Personal Safety. Lots of people run into dogs on the Camino who are fiercely protecting territory or livestock and some even bitten. The best way to deal with them can be a bit counterintuitive. Here’s some great advice from a wise vet:

WHAT TO DO IF THREATENED BY AN AGGRESSIVE DOG: BE A TREE!
1) Remain calm and still. Don't run. This is a race you will not win. If you are alone, back away slowly. Do not turn your back.
2) If you are on the ground, curl into a fetal position, cover your head with your arms, and keep your fingers curled in a fist.
3) Avoid eye contact. Remember, staring an aggressive dog in the eyes is a challenge.
4) Do not smile at the dog
5) Use a soft, soothing tone of voice. Loud, angry-sounding words and screaming only spur on the dog.
6) If he bites you, DO NOT PULL AWAY. This only spurs the dog on. Remain calm. Try to put something between you and the dog like your purse, jacket, bicycle, backpack, etc. Don't hit the dog. Again, just makes the situation worse.

WHAT TO DO IF YOU GET BITTEN
1) If the bite is serious, call 911.
2) Wash the bite wound thoroughly with soap and water. If the wound is deep, painful, discolored, or swollen, contact your medical professional.
3) If possible, confirm the dog's rabies vaccination status.
4) Report the bite to your local authorities and veterinarian.
In Spain or Europe call 112
 

Kurt5280

Crazy Enough To Try It Again!
Camino(s) past & future
Frances: SJPDP to Finisterre & Muxia 9/15 (MTB) - Norte: Bayonne to Muxia & Finisterre 9/18 (MTB)
@Gabe_Way you might note that avoiding that route is the action that might cause the problem. @Kurt5280 wasnt on the route, he was “lost” 😉
My advice...stay near the coast between Finisterre and Muxia...the people that live near the coast are use to both tourists and Pilgrims...so you should not have any loose farm dog problems...it worked for me on my second Camino.
 

Gabe_Way

Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'm starting CF from SPDP on May 5th, 2019
(Walking)
My advice...stay near the coast between Finisterre and Muxia...the people that live near the coast are use to both tourists and Pilgrims...so you should not have any loose farm dog problems...it worked for me on my second Camino.
Ok, that makes sense.
 
Camino(s) past & future
(2019)
This is a very complex topic. Hoping we have more experts to teach us. Dogs will attack for any one of three reasons; fear, defending property, (or protect Master, or other dog in pack), or hunger. I know pepper (table variety), works, if the dog(s) can be kept at bay till it can be blown their way, but hoping there are better methods, like tossing some pieces of sausage or something?

First thought is to back away, as mentioned but back to a wall or any other object that can protect your back. From there, it is front and sides to defend. Remaining quiet is something that does not feel right. HELP!!!
Yeah! you are right. When I was in childhood. A dog Bitten me, From then, I scare of Dogs.
 

Pelegrin

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Primitivo June 2013
SJPP - Logroño June 2014
Ingles July2016
In Galicia for farm dogs, saying NO or GO works because both sound similar to HO that is in Galicia STOP for animals.
 

JillGat

la tierra encantada
Camino(s) past & future
C. Frances
SJPP - Finisterre - Muxia, May 2016
C. Frances, Sept 2017
Camino Portugues, June 2019
Maybe I missed it, but I didn't see anyone mention carrying chorizo treats.

I'm not kidding. The problem is that even if you don't make eye contact,or you walk away slowly, or even wave your poles at them, animals can sense your fear and you are at a big disadvantage with an aggressive animal. I'm lucky because I'm not afraid of dogs - have not had bad experiences like some of you have - and so I tend to call them to me and offer treats. You can't fake being fearless, but you can admit defeat, squat down, don't make eye contact, and offer treats. You can't outrun them and you're not going to win in a fight with them. And who doesn't like treats? Dogs don't generally beat up those waving a white flag and carrying gifts. I'm no expert but based on my experience, I bet this would work for you, too.
 
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