Protect Yourself And Your Dog

Enjoying the great outdoors with our furry friends is one of the best parts of loving our dogs. From a daily walk to a fun romp on the hiking trails, our canine companions love to be out with us. VCA Hospitals’ Cheryl Yuill, DVM, MSc, and CVH, reports that approximately 10 percent of the tramatic injury that a veterinarian sees on a routine basis are dog bite wounds. It is an unfortunate fact that your dog can be attacked on a casual outing, such as walking, hiking, traveling, or even right outside your front door. But there is a solution, and I had the pleasure of checking it out first-hand.

Doggo Defense Strategies is a brand new workshop in Southern California, focused on changing these statistics. Created from a deep love for dogs, this specialized class aims to empower participants with confidence and knowledge, so they can go on walks or outings with their dogs, carrying the self-assurance that they know what to do in the event of an attack.

The diverse group of dog lovers who created Doggo Defense Strategies were inspired by their own experiences with dogs in scary situations outside of the safety of their homes and wanted to prevent terrible things from happening to fellow dog owners all over. The workshop was founded by Julie Sandoval, a woman with an immense passion for dogs. Julie is also co-owner of Action Dog Sports Training and Event Center in Moorpark, California; owns a boarding facility; and is co-founder of United States Canines Scent Sports, a new and fun Scent Work organization. Doggo Defense Strategies is presented by a law enforcement K9 Team officer and trainer Pete Stevens. Pete has be involved in law enforcement K9 teams for 21 years. Pete has handled three police service dogs, including single- and dual-purpose dogs. He began training law enforcement and civilian dogs in 2008.

The very first workshop was held on May 5th in Simi Valley, and I admit, I didn’t know what to expect going in. However, I walked away feeling incredibly empowered by what I had learned. The seminar was set up in a room at a local community recreational center, with a large projector and a table scattered with various objects. These objects ranged from baseball bats and tennis rackets, to tasers and pepper spray. The class opened with Pete giving everyone a background on his experience, leading to a Power- Point presentation that walked through a variety of ways to protect yourself and your dog.

Contrary to popular belief, defense strategies don’t immediately go toward a lethal approach—a good chunk of the seminar was dedicated to avoiding such terrible events and to only use unsavory methods as an absolute last resort. Such concepts included being aware of your surroundings, focusing on your dog, and leaving situations that make you feel uncomfortable. Pete greatly emphasized having situation awareness, which is divided into two terms: observation and orientation.

■ Watch, see, perceive, and notice your surroundings.

■ Adjust to your circumstances.

■ Decide what to do, and act upon your decision.

■ Be cognizant of your dog’s behavior and try to view the situation from your pup’s point of view. If your dog is focused on something, find out what the dog is focused on. It may be nothing, or it may be a coyote!

However, if the worst were to happen, Pete allowed everyone to have a handson experience with various devices, including tasers. It’s better to learn how to use such things in the safety of a classroom! With the help of his trusty stuffed dog, Pete provided valuable demonstrations on how to best defend yourself and your dog. Pete also touched on important questions owners should ask themselves and consider before being put in a terrible situation, such as what hand are you going to use to protect yourself and where will your dog’s leash be? Answers to these and other vital questions were provided in great detail. Pete suggested having multiple defense mechanisms on you, including some that are inexpensive or inconspicuous (such as a tennis racket).

To find out more about these workshops, visit doggodefensestrategies.com.

You can protect yourself and your dog by being aware of your surroundings, focusing on your dog, and leaving situations that make you feel uncomfortable.

Defense strategies should not immediately go toward a lethal approach—use of unsavory methods should be an absolute last resort.