Aggressive Dogs: The Utility of Sticks v Guns

Dog aggressively defending its territory near Powell Creek, Australia. It appears to have some dingo ancestry

U.S.A.-( This morning I had another experience with a dog aggressively defending its territory. I was on my exercise walk. The sky was light before the sun was up. A pair of dogs were in a fenced yard, with their owner. They took exception to my presence. The fence, next to the sidewalk, was only two feet tall, as incentivized by the silly local zoning laws.

I am a dog person. I understand dog body language pretty well. As I passed the yard, on the sidewalk, with a boulevard to my right and the yard to my left, I considered the possibility the medium-sized dog would jump the fence and come at me. It was a worthwhile vigilance.

The dog jumped the fence and came at my left rear. I immediately pivoted to the left, bringing my left fist downward. My fist just brushed the muzzle of the dog, inches from my left leg. The dog was in the process of stopping and backing up, with both the owner and me loudly encouraging it to do so. It all happened in a second or two at most. I never considered drawing the Glock 17 on my right hip. Guns are useful tools to stop dog attacks. Most of the time, their use is not the optimum approach.

The dog needed to be reminded I was a lot bigger than it, and not going to accept a gratuitous bite at my leg. While such a bite was unlikely to be fatal, infection of the Achilles tendon is a life-altering possibility. A dog’s health is not worth my tendon.

In half a minute, the pack leader (the owner) had scolded her dog back into the yard. Both of us were pleased with that result. The incident had me reflect on the utility of walking sticks as a defense against dogs.

A bit North of the center of Australia, I had a longer experience with a larger dog. It too was aggressively defending its territory, but the territory was bigger; no owner was available to call it back. It took 10 minutes to carefully extricate myself from its watchful gaze and aggressive behavior. Whenever I attempted to place distance between myself and the animal, it would charge toward me. I had no Glock on my hip, no pocket knife in my pocket, or any easily available rocks. The first was forbidden by Australian law, the second severely discouraged by the same, the third not provided by nature. I was eventually able to use the traffic on the major North-South Australian highway to put distance between myself and the dog.

Somewhat later, after a bit of reflection, I cut a walking stick from a fire-killed sapling. It was to come in handy in a variety of ways. I should have equipped myself with it two weeks earlier.

One of the benefits of a stick as a defense against dogs is almost all dogs understand sticks, while most do not understand guns. It is far better to discourage a dog than to have to kill one. No one will deny a walking stick to a retired gentleman or lady.

Over my life, I have had to discourage numerous dogs. A stick is the best solution, in my humble opinion. A mild whack with a stick will put most dogs into retreat. I am told pepper spray is almost as good as a stick. I have been told it only works on dogs that are not committed to the attack. A couple of times, without a stick, I came close to killing dogs with my Glock. Fortunately, I was able to avoid the experience.

A stick does not have an expiration date, is relatively inexpensive, provides a visual deterrent, and is not affected by wind to any significant extent.

Dean Weingarten with sapling walking stick on the Nullabor plain in Australia

There are wonderful martial arts based on stick fighting. I was taught a few simple techniques by my friend Don Cowling, many years ago.

In most situations, a few simple techniques will suffice. Dogs do not need or appreciate subtlety.

A direct approach is best. Let them see the stick. Use it to ward them off. If the dog is being aggressive, in range of the stick, a blow to the muzzle or head is warranted. You should have a sturdy stick capable of delivering a serious blow. If they are merely defending the outer boundaries of their territory, it will probably be enough.

When more than one dog is involved, the dynamic is completely different. Dogs in “pack mode” think and act much differently than individual dogs. Both the times I came close to killing dogs with the Glock, there were more than one. Discouraging the most aggressive of the pack will often work, but cannot be counted on. Any pack of canines can be a serious threat.

This web site has a good overview of potential problems and responses to canine attacks.

About Dean Weingarten:

Dean Weingarten
Dean Weingarten

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

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“ Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me ; I shall fear no evil “


Yes, the rod and staff comfort me, .45 on hip helps also.


Will, yes sir I carry both on my morning walk everyday.

Wild Bill

My situation is the opposite. Too often a recent drop off comes up to the yard tired, hungry, thirsty and bewildered. My dogs are all telling him go away. I try to talk to them calmly, and throw them a few dog treats. Some run, some stay. Running away is sure death. Staying is joining a new pack.


Don’t usually mind dogs, but despise the people who desert in their friend in rural areas – to “live happily in nature”.
I assume that most dogs chose to stay or flee – but that on occasion you have to put down an aggressive one.
Are your dogs just loud – or do you have to handle introductions with new pack member to prevent bloodshed?

Dr. Strangelove

I’m a cyclist and it seems like the only time dogs come after me is when I forget my pepper spray. It’s like they have a 6th sense.


also an avid road cyclist, I’ve been attacked by dogs numerous times. New laws, and vigourous enforcement of them, however, have brought a sharp reduction in dogs running loose and attacking. Bitten on the ankle once a few years ago by one of a pair of similar smallish black aggressive mutts let to run off grounds, I decided to report it. As I returned from my ride a couple hours later, I noticed the dogpound’s truck in that yard as I passed. I rang the animal control folks a couple days later and learned they had come calling to inform… Read more »


Taking a clue from some of my street experiences in Brooklyn NY I adopted this method to defend against dogs while bike riding. I got a storage bag that hung under the cross bar of my bike, and kept a 3 foot +/- length of fairly heavy chain in there. Tied a cord loop to one end for better hand hold. A few dogs seemed to understand what that was all about. Works pretty well while under way as long as you keep it out of your spokes.


I would think your self defense weapon could easily have you eating pavement. With the all the criminal protection laws you should check to make sure they haven’t made your chain an illegal weapon.


I don’t screw around and play with them using a stick, when they come off there property at me and are outright aggressive, bang end of story Any thing else just excites them and makes them more aggressive.


Careful. Remember, you were in fear of your life and/or bodily injury.


been bit once, attacked several times, Dogs are dangerous, especially when their owner is not present, in packs will maim and kill.


Back a few years ago I bought a walking stick from Cold Steel. It is called the “City Stick” and on their video they break cinder-blocks with it. I have had to use it to make an agressive dog back off. Between that and a sharp knife, I am somewhat prepared to defend myself. I would love to carry a firearm but hesitate to get a Concealed Weapons Permit because I figure the government will use the list of permits to round up guns.


Your walking stick is going to help you when a group of criminals attack you how? Yes I have the “Cold Steel” dragon stick, and against a single dog may stop it from attacking you; however were you to come on to a situation (happened here in MI) where someone were being mauled by several dogs… only a gun would work. Be safe, take the training and get your CPL.


Call of the wild, law of the club,most dogs learn fast about sticks and clubs. I would still keep a gun handy for more than a couple. I keep several from a rattan han bo to six foot bo staffs. After hip replacement and bad knees they are a big help walking and self defence.


I have seen a number of walkers, male and female, carrying putters over the years.

Wild Bill

Gentlemen, How about a pocket full of doggy treats?! You know … the “carrot” and the stick.


I have no desire to feed your vicious dog or to be nice to you, Keep it on a leash or have good insurance.

Wild Bill

@22, Maybe the dog merely senses something vicious about you.


when dogs hear someone coming and rally to the assault long before the target is even seen, the dog is not responding to anything vicious about me… get real. Control IYOUR dog and it won’t be a problem. If/when your gentle cuddly harmless dogs ever DO physically attack somone, you’d better have a good lawyer. Vicious dogs most often reflect the character of their owner. If yours come out on the road out front to wag their tails, ears back and big grin on their mugs, fine. I know that look and toss a friendly greeting to them, I also… Read more »

Wild Bill

I would just cross claim against you. I would allege that you taunted the dog, who merely reacted in a natural way. Then you attacked the dog. I and a couple of my workers saw it all, but we were too far away to intervene.
What insurance do you have that covers that? You’d be paying your lawyer out of your own pocket.


Translation: “I would lie to the police and courts.”

Wow, what a lovely person …

Wild Bill

Yes, I am a lovely person, every rescue on my place knows it. I have never had a problem with any dog. Not even in Iraq.
Your translation is typical libtard conclusion jumping. I merely described a potential and you render a half ass judgement.


@Cymond – perhaps @WB knows his dogs well enough to know that this is the only scenario which would occur. I speculate (partially based upon prior posts) that he works his land and usually there is someone outside who would in fact witness said events. Do note he did not say that he would respond with violent force to you attacking his canine family members – just that he would counter claim following your (from his point) unjustified suit against him. I know you probably can read all dog expressions perfectly – but most of us cannot. In chase mode,… Read more »

Wild Bill

@Fin, Libtards annoy the shit out of me! My apologies.


My in-laws had a dog that was an absolute sweetheart, very social, very friendly, loved people … to the point that it was a problem. She would run through the electric fence if she got excited. The postal worker (mailman) carried dog treats. My mother-in-law kept telling him “Don’t do that, do NOT give her treats.” Well, the idiot mailman didn’t listen. He kept giving her treats. The dog wasn’t very smart, but she was smart enough to learn “that man has treats!” She believed the mailman was her friend. So one day, she saw the mailman pull up, and… Read more »

Wild Bill

@Cyborg, The situation that they were talking about was not a cyclical one. So there is no long term. You have added facts so that you can be right. More typical libtard logic.

Wild Bill

Dog sled mushers in Alaska used this technique for years, and still might. They kept wolf meat with them to throw and distract the wolves. Worked every time.


My dogs run to the road if they are outside when someone walks or rides a bike past the house. They are not aggressive and they think who ever is going by needs to stop and see them. Sometimes it is the person that makes the dog aggressive by their treatment of the animal then the dog thinks that the next person coming by is going to treat it the same way.

Rock R

The problem is the city or populated areas… In the country, when I was growing up, dogs used to run and come and go mostly as they pleased… They stayed mostly on the farm with us kids and followed us everywhere… We had plenty of acreage for them to run … Most all the dogs in the area knew us and all the other neighbors… Yes dogs can pick out personalities, especially fear … Dogs are naturally curious and most love to chase whatever moves… Bikes and cars are just normal conquests to them…. However in the city or populated… Read more »

Get Out

IMOA, Some of these dog owners believe everyone wants or should pet their dogs and will actually move towards you saying, it won’t bite. I’ve been bitten twice by leashed pets when their owners let them get too close, even when I was backing away from them, bottom line is it doesn’t know me and could become protective of the owner. Dogs on the loose are even worse since they go into the pack mentality. While on vacation on a farm in Missouri my niece and nephew were playing on the back yard swing when four dogs showed up and… Read more »


When I was at Fort Benning in the 80’s one of the tac NCO’s had a 20 round mag of 5.56. We frequently heard what sounded like coyotes yelping. But, the tac NCO said it was dogs. These dogs had been left out and abandoned in the woods of Fort Benning by people who were being transferred overseas, where they could not take their pets. Problem is, the dogs that survived were not fearful of humans and would pack up. Packed up dogs are worse than wolves, since they have no fear of humans and associate humans with food.

Country Boy

walk softly and carry a big stick……..


Aye, for most mutts a Shillelagh upside the head should suffice. Pitbulls are an exception, as they feel no pain when in attack mode. I once broke a wooden shovel across the backside of my pittie after she latched onto my Weimaraner during a scuffle. She didn’t let go. Not wanting to hurt her further, I ran and grabbed the trusty cattle prod. Worked like magic.

Electricity is your friend.


@Hankus – Depends on your definition of “pitbull”. For most people it simply refers to any moderately sized (or larger) short haired dog with a blocky head shape. Perhaps you are referring to full size stafordshire? (sp?). Many dogs people classify as ‘pitty’ are quite oversensitive – and that can make them dangerous as they are overly quick to take offense and then overwhelmed and too stupid to back off. I don’t have pitty, but for a time carried pepper spray to deter loose dogs before my pups could get ahold of them — but then the spray emptied itself… Read more »


IMO, an apx. six foot long Bo staff is a better weapon and a better walking aid, than the apx. four foot long Jo staff pictured. The Jo is a bit lighter, and its also easier to learn to use than the longer Bo. If one masters the technique of sliding the hands on the stick to always keep the long end out, though, it is a more effective weapon, and also a better walking tool.


Not every dog that is off leash is because of an owner’s neglect. Dogs escape fences and leashes and if you shoot a dog before it has bitten you, in the suburbs, you will get arrested for weapons violations and animal cruelty for doing in some family’s pet.

Carrying nonlethal weapons in addition to a concealed firearm is always prudent. A stun gun, spray, or club is advisable for those situations where a less than lethal aggressor, two or four legged, needs to be repelled with less than lethal force.


Irresponsible dog owners are the bane of civilized people. You can only shoot one if you have a reasonable fear of attack and bodily injury. Of course, once they bite you, its a free fire zone. Actually, you could probably shoot a mugger without consequence than a dog.


In 1988, I was jogging in Bonney Lake, WA. I was wearing shoes, socks, shorts, and shirt. I was in a residential area, when all of a sudden a doberman runs up growling, barking, and snarling. His head was about the height of my crouch. He did not bite, but would not let me move past. (You never run from a dog, that resembles prey, and they will attack.) This went on for about 90 seconds, though it seemed longer. Finally, the owner came out an called him off. Of course, the owner said he would not ever hurt a… Read more »




How did you get a permit to possess a pistol much less concealed carry in Australia?



“I had no Glock on my hip, no pocket knife in my pocket, or any easily available rocks. The first was forbidden by Australian law, the second severely discouraged by the same, the third not provided by nature.”

It really helps to READ the article


You can’t. You are just another sheep in that country.


So I guess you’d also advocate taking a knife to a gun fight? Jeez, give me a break. No stick, a gun. I won’t be bitten or worse because some irresponsible dog owner fails to restrain their vicious animal. I damn sure won’t stand by and carry a stick instead of a gun when one or more dogs are loose and attacking. Stopping the dog with a stick might save you a bite, but not if there’s more than one dog. And if it attacks you, the next time a child might be walking by and the result will be… Read more »


The point is that a stick can sometimes actually be a *better* sells defense too against dogs, because a dog knows to recognize and FEAR the stick. In effect, this Karl’s you safer.

But I do understand your feelings re “the next time”. Any dog that will attack you unprovoked can also attack someone else unprovoked, and that person might not be ready to defend themself.

Wild Bill

, I’d rather have the dog swatted than stabbed, but you are still a libtard as exhibited by your lack of logic (infra), but perfect understanding of “feelings”.


@JPM – I live in crowded suburban area. In even of a dog attack, I am likely to be being yanked about by leashes attached to my own two puppies who are kind of excitable. While an acceptable shot in best of conditions, in such an event risk of a miss ricocheting off pavement into a home is unacceptable. I can wield a stick with no fear of collateral damage or legal ramifications (illegal to fire within city limits). Have only had two dogs charge me while I’ve been walking. Both time I only had my “small” dog and it… Read more »

Wild Bill

@Finnky, I am starting to like you!