How To Avoid Getting Bitten by a Nasty Dog in Thailand
I hate mean Thai dogs.
Stray dogs are a common sight in Thailand and many people have a Bad Dog Story or two to tell. I understand - they have difficult lives. They're unwanted animals, struggling every day with traffic and unfriendly humans. Here, I have created a guide to help other foreigners in Thailand deal with nasty dogs in Thailand. I have used experience, science and dog behaviour guides.
Such sweeping generalisations aren't fair, and there have been a few Thai dogs that I would have happily taken home with me (perhaps after a good de-flea-ing session first). Bobo the Fire Dog on Phuket, for example, who joined our fire-pit party by the sea. Lazy Dog at Baan Famui in Chiang Dao was gorgeous, and very floppy. Wuffles hangs out in front of the YMCA and wouldn't harm a fly.
But then there are the tales of the bad dogs.
In Nang Rong there was the neighbour's dog that might have had rabies that bit my friends, and the temple dogs that swarmed out at us every time we went to the food market.
There were ones on Koh Kood that Would Not Let Us Pass and we had to hop on the back of a man called Sergey's motorbike to flee in terror - thank you, Sergey, but where were you when on the same island a different pack of dogs chased us down a pier and my legs were so wobbly I almost fell right off it onto the jagged rocks below or into the jagged doggy teeth before me!?
How to Avoid Getting Bitten by a Nasty Dog in Thailand
There are several easy things you can do to avoid confrontations with nasty dogs in the first place.
If you're unfortunate enough to be in a situation where you have to escape from a face-to-face encounter with a nasty dog, there are also several things you can do, but each require varying degrees of preparation, also detailed.
Prevention: Avoiding Confrontation
This old adage was probably invented by a foreign person living in Thailand after they tried to pet one too many cute sleeping dogs. Don't do it! There's a high likelihood that cute sleepy dog is an evil killing machine. Also leave eating dogs and dogs with puppies alone.
Keep your distance. If you don't invade their territory, they're less likely to attack. Yep, super annoying when 'their territory' is the entrance to 7-11. If you're in this situation, wait till someone else comes along and go in with them (strength in numbers) or wait till it's distracted/distract it.
Remember it's not just stray dogs that can be nasty. People keep nasty dogs to protect their houses.
4. Don't go near dog hangouts at night
Dogs hang out inside temple grounds, in abandoned buildings, in building sites, in car parks and in other empty-ish places. Try to avoid such places at night, when dogs are feeling especially nasty.
Preparation: Your Nasty Dog Arsenal
Dogs hate the very high pitch of rape alarms. If you frequently come up against nasty dogs, a big stick and a quick lunge at the pack of dogs will keep them away. Personally, I preferred to carry an umbrella when I lived in Nang Rong a.k.a Dog City. Way more practical and less crazy - and it opened up into a kind of shield that shocked the dogs if you opened it quickly.
How to Escape From A Nasty Dog1. Don't run
If you run, you'll activate the dog's 'prey drive' and it will chase you. ESPECIALLY don't run if you're being faced with a pack of nasty dogs. In the past, dogs were predators, and used to work in packs to bring down prey. They are still capable of bringing you down.
2. Don't show fear: hold yourself tall
Pretend you're trying to impress Alan Sugar on The Apprentice: you're oozing confidence, you can do anything and aren't afraid of anything, not even those growling wild animals in front of you.
If you need inspiration, just watch how this super brave dude handles stray dogs in Bangkok. I can't claim that I've ever managed to stay this calm when faced by a pack of dogs, but that's what we're aiming for here.
If you're feeling small, use your clothing to make yourself appear big - hold your shawl out behind you or open your umbrella in front of you.
3. Don't Smile
To a dog, your friendly smile looks like baring your teeth aggressively. Stern is the way to go.
Don't squeal, or the dog might mistake your squeals as the sounds of a dying animal and attack you.
Don't shout really loudly, but look right at the dogs (not straight into their eyes though) and say whatever your want to in a deep, firm, authoritative and, if you like, gravelly voice, to show that you aren't afraid.
"I came in like a wrecking ball."
"I need to buy some cocopops tonight, or I'll have no breakfast tomorrow, and I'll be really grumpy."
Anything will do.
Yelling too much might make the dogs agitated, and more likely to attack. Remember: unafraid and firm.
Don't hang about, though. All the barking and commotion will attract other dogs in the area, and that's bad news because dogs often like to join forces to participate in socially facilitated predation - meaning that once one dog starts ripping into your flesh, it's an open invitation to a free for all buffet.
Be wary of turning your back on the dogs - this could cause them to get bolshy* and give chase. If necessary, walk away backwards.
*bolshy = too big for their boots
Pretend to pick up a stone and throw it at the dogs. Believe it's real, and the dogs might too - at least enough so that they don't attack. People throw stones at them enough that they can't be sure it isn't real. However, I watched Brave Dude's video, and you can see that the guy who was flailing around had the dogs right up on him, but the brave dude didn't mess about at all and was fine.
Hopefully you packed your nasty dog arsenal in your bag and you're wielding a great big umbrella shield.
Don't worry, though. Apparently, you're more likely to win the lottery than be killed by dogs, so yay!
Life for a stray dog in Thailand is hard.
Soi Dog helps the homeless, neglected and abused dogs and cats of Thailand. Their aim is to set an example for the Asian region on how to humanely reduce the number of unwanted dogs and cats through spaying and neutering, and to better the lives and living conditions of the stray dogs and feral cats of Asia.