Lessons from the Pakenham Dog Attack

Lessons from the Pakenham Dog Attack

What Happened?

It’s the dog attack that went viral. Pictures uploaded by Kashila Chintamunee show Hero, the aggressor, covered in blood. The victim, Chintamunee’s Daschhund, Coco, died due to the injuries sustained during the attack.

The emotive pictures also included an image of Chintamunee’s blood-soaked dress. According to her, Coco went up to Hero and sniffed him. Chintamunee said that Hero then attacked without provocation.

Chintamunee claimed that Hero’s owner, Claudia Harrison, walked off after the incident to clean off her dog in a lake.

Harrison tells a different story.

She was walking Hero on a leash when Chinamunee’s three dogs approached. Harrison claims that Cocoa was the aggressor and that it was a leash-only area. 

She further states that she was trying to get her son away from the fighting dogs.

As it transpired, the three dogs had escaped through an open gate. CCTV footage shows them approaching Hero and later shows Harrison pulling her son away from the fight.

The viciousness of the attack led city officials to call for the euthanization of Hero, which caused a furor in Melbourne. More than 200 000 residents have now signed a petition to spare Hero.

Whichever version you choose to believe, it raises the question of what to do if a dog approaches you off the leash.

What Can Be Done When Dogs Approach Off the Leash?

The most crucial skill is to remain calm. If you don’t, your dog will sense the tension and become uneasy, adopting a more defensive posture. It could quickly escalate the situation.

Instead, try and get your dog out of the way. Walk away, calmly, and assertively. Running at this point could activate predatory aggression in the other dog, where the only satisfactory outcome for the aggressor is to catch his prey.

Try crossing a road or moving behind a car. It puts a physical barrier between you and the other dog and could ward off an attack.

If it’s still following you, make your dog lie down. In dog behavior, lying down is a sign of submission. This move might stop the attack.

Using a calm and assertive voice, tell the other dog to stop. Reinforce this command with hand gestures. If it backs off, toss it a few treats. If not, you’ll need to try a more active defense.

One option is to make a noise. Carry a foghorn or whistle with you. The sound could pull the other dog out of attack mode.

If the dogs fight, get someone to help you pull them apart. Each person should grab the hind legs of one dog and then pull them apart. If they’ve clamped onto each other, cold water or citronella spray might help them calm down.

Are Staffordshire Dogs Dangerous?

Staffies have a reputation as an effective fighter, but there’s more to a dog’s behavior than its breed. There’s also the home environment to consider.

Staffies are affectionate, fiercely loyal dogs, who will protect family to the death. Another dog showing signs of fear aggression provokes an adverse reaction, which is understandable. Would you sit idly by if someone attacked your family?

It is also an active breed. Attacks could also be from frustration or boredom. Male dogs (of all breed) act out of sexual frustration, too.

A good program of exercise and positive reinforcement will help channel their energy better.

Are they dangerous or not? The answer is no. Aggressive dog behavior is almost always a result of the owner’s treatment of the dog.


For more posts related to aggression in dogs, do check out the posts below:
Why is My Dog Aggressive All of a Sudden?
Dog Toys for Aggressive Chewers
How to Stop Dog on Dog Aggression

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