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Old July 4, 2009, 11:06 PM   #1
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Fired my pistol in SD tonight...

So yeah, happy 4th of July. I had one of the greatest training excercises that *could've* gotten ugly tonight. Everything turned out well, thank God, but I did get a chance to see how my carry method works in real life stress.

Anyway, I'm walking through the subdivision with the GF, her kids, her brother, and her mother. I was carrying (obviously) when 2 dogs ran up the driveway of a neighbors house un-restrained. Not a trot, or a playful run... mind you I know the difference. This was a "seek, close with, and destroy who's coming near my turf" run. We were fairly spread out as a group, which I didn't like because I didn't know where everyone was. As soon as I saw the dogs, I began to draw and I yelled forcefully. This MAY have been our saving grace because this did disrupt the dogs and made them pause. Had they not paused, and if they would have been intent on doing damage, then they would have reached someone in the group before I could draw and fire.

Anyway. The dogs paused for a brief second but were *way* too close for comfort. They were probably 20' or less away and appeared to be trying to decide their next course of action. I paused for a second, but decided they were too close for comfort, so I fired three warning shots into the ditch bank and then began to aim at the dogs. I didn't have time to really aim because they decided to split pretty quickly. So, I've critiqued myself, and am open to further critique.

- I was carrying my off piece that I VERY rarely carry anymore. The only reason I had it is I didn't have the means to properly secure it off my person at the time, so I had it in my carry pocket and my normal carry piece in the other pocket. The manual of arms is different, so I fumbled with the safety for a second. It was brief, but it could've been long enough for someone to really get hurt. The DA/SA pistol will now ride safety off because of the location of the safety, the long trigger pull, and the fact that the safety is in a different location and throws in a different direction than on my normal carry piece.

- I'm a dog person. I'm not typically afraid of dogs. When they paused, I hesitated for a second trying to figure out whether they were still a threat. The whole ordeal occured in about 4 seconds, so this happened VERY fast. I still hesitated and that could've hurt.

- I am pretty decent at pocket carry. It is my preferred method.

- Forceful and assertive verbal commands work to your advantage. I think that *perhaps* this simple act did the trick. Verbal commands on dogs or humans are FTW.

- When traveling in groups, it's a good idea to keep the group tight together. One person walks 20' ahead, the other 2 15' behind... another reason I hesitated was trying to figure out who was closest to the danger so I could protect them. I was trying to make alot of decisions in a small amount of time. Travel in tight groups unless in combat and you expect grenades.

- Some will probably criticize me for it, but I stand behind my logic of firing the warning shots. I didn't want to shoot the dogs because they paused, but they were still WAY too close for comfort. I only wish I would've fired the warning shots earlier instead of taking the time to assess whether they were still a threat.

- No one was hurt, and I got to judge my response in a real life stress situation. I will politely talk with the neighbor about his dogs tomorrow. They were out of town this weekend.

Critique me, I want to hear it.
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Old July 4, 2009, 11:20 PM   #2
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So you can read dog's minds? How do you know they just were not in a hurry to lick someone or be petted? Sorry but I personally think you over reacted and if you were willing to fire your gun in a subdivision at "charging dogs" that had not ttacked anyone yet I think you need not carry a gun. Whats next the pizza guy coming up your drive instead of the nieghbors cause he got the address mixed up?
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Old July 4, 2009, 11:23 PM   #3
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So you can read dog's minds?
Interesting question.

But you're exactly correct. Unless he could read dog's minds there was no way to rule out that an attack was imminent.
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Old July 4, 2009, 11:37 PM   #4
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Was there any kind of reaction from the neighbors on this one? I mean, it is 4th of July, but one would think gunfire in subdivision would still get a lot of attention, no?

Were you sure enough that there was enough of a danger to justify discharging the gun? People say here will say, time and time again, any time one pulls out their firearm, and especially when they fire it, they're taking a number of very serious risks, and they could ruin their lives forever if they do the wrong thing, and the lives of others too. I guess in regards to legal risks, they would probably be lesser on account of the fact that it was dogs that you were trying to dissuade, there are still crimes that you could have been charged with, and it still could have made your life unpleasant for a long time. Are you convinced the amount of force you've shown was worth taking the chances? I guess that's a "standard" answer, but it's true is it not? It's possible that no consequence may come of it, but you still took the chance.
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Old July 4, 2009, 11:38 PM   #5
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In response to John (I can't figure out how to qoute from my phone) I am willing to take a dog bite before I fire my gun. When ad only when the dog was "attacking" someone would I then even think of firing my gun, to me a few stitches would not be a big deal to know that I was justified in firing off a gun in a subdivison. Especially on a holiday night when people are outdoors.
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Old July 4, 2009, 11:38 PM   #6
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Warning shots - super bad mojo

If you felt threatened enough to draw, you should have shot the dogs.

I have a dog situation in my nieghborhood, dog is extremely aggressive, its bitten people before. The owner lets it run free after the animal control place is closed and the cops won't do anything.

When the dog is out, I make the kids come it - too bad you can't choose your neighbors. I've certainly felt VERY threatened by this animal as it approaches me growling and showing its teeth. I usually will put my hand on my piece and have it ready just in case he ever actually jumps on me but I've found that keeping the kids indoors and taking an aggressive stance when it approaches me keeps me from getting jumped on - so far. I keep the kids loaded up with pepper spray just in case, they've been told not to hesitate spraying the dog in the face.

I'll only shoot it after I have teeth marks to show I was defending myself. I know I shouldn't have to do that, but this is a laywers world.
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Old July 4, 2009, 11:42 PM   #7
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Great points Raftman. Did you call the police and alert the neighbors that "dogs that may be a threat" where out an about? Or are you so convinced that the dogs were intent on hurting someone that you just left the scene, only for them to attack the next group of people that walked by?
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Old July 4, 2009, 11:44 PM   #8
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3 shots? sounds like 1 would do.

how did the others in your party react to you shooting?
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Old July 4, 2009, 11:45 PM   #9
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Just deleted a post from this thread. The OP's request for critiques does not mean that it's ok to post insulting responses.
I am willing to take a dog bite before I fire my gun.
It's fine for you to make that decision when your flesh is all that's in jeopardy. Other people may justifiably place a slightly higher priority on keeping their hide intact.

I do agree that warning shots are normally a bad idea. On the other hand, having a dirt bank handy to function as a safe backstop makes the situation a bit abnormal...
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Old July 5, 2009, 12:20 AM   #10
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So you can read dog's minds? How do you know they just were not in a hurry to lick someone or be petted?
Maybe I or the OP can't "read their minds", but I have been around dogs enough to "read" their body language.

Don't want your dogs to be in danger of being shot,,,,keep them under control,,,,at ALL TIMES!!
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Old July 5, 2009, 01:24 AM   #11
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When good dogs go bad there is one man who is their best friend

Cesar Millan!
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Old July 5, 2009, 01:28 AM   #12
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I know 'dog', and I can surely tell bossy 'Get off my turf' from 'I want to kill you'. I am sure I am not the only one who can read the signs.

Warning shots are an absolute no-no, except if they solve a problem without bloodshed.

Both the dogs and the humans left the scene intact. That's a pretty good outcome.
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Old July 5, 2009, 01:41 AM   #13
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Back at you. Happy 4th

Sorry for your troubles and thanks for asking our advice/critique. On a side note, you really don't deserve harsh words when you ask for help.

So, I have a couple of questions. Do you know these dogs? And do they know you? You stated that you know the owner.

When you fired the three rounds, at least you fired them into a known, good backstop, not into the air. I thought three might be excessive, but I don't know how many you would have left. In my pocket carry gun, I would have only had two left.

Killing or wounding a dog in front of the kids would possibly be traumatic for them, so your restraint is understandable and, I think commendable. There are (despite policy statements of various law enforcement and military agencies) two schools of thought on warning shots. A generation ago, they were well thought of. They are no longer popular. They may work better against canines than against people. You were there. So, you stated the dogs hesitated when you used your command voice, then broke off when you fired the warning shots. Do I have that right?

In your opinion, in hindsight, would your voice commands have sufficed? If so, the warning shots were unnecessary. Since the dogs did break off their stalk, actually killing one or both was, indeed, unnecessary. Your tactics worked.

Whether your tactics were optimal is open to question. Like I said, you were there, so your hindsight will be better than mine, but I think against two dogs that responded to your command voice would mean the shots into the ditch were overreacting and a shot into the dogs would definitely be unwarranted.

Getting between the kids and the dogs would have been my choice, while commanding the dogs to "Stay". If positioning myself thus would have put me in the position of charging the dogs, so much the better. Most dogs approached thus will hesitate and let others of their pack make flanking movements. But with only two, and against three adult people protecting two kids, should be a defensible postion without gunfire if you could get into that formation. The most important thing is, "Nobody runs away."

I don't know the laws in your area, but letting dogs run while you are away from home is not a good idea. And if a dog is wont to form a pack with others and go hunting, it is a really bad idea.

Good luck. Keep up the training and the introspection.

Post-incident review is a good thing.

Thanks for sharing your experience.

Lost Sheep.

A personal anecdote--- I had a friend who had a dog who HATED children. I don't know why. He may have been abused as a pup, but he went crazy around anyone under 4' tall. He was never allowed out without a leash or being within a secure, fenced yard and supervised. He was not fond of other dogs either, but did live amiably with cats, very small dogs and a bird. Go figure. He was normally an obedient, friendly and good dog. Anyhow, he did get out (squeezed through a gate you would not have believed was possible) and tried to attack a young dog being walked by two of our neighbors. He rushed around and around trying to get to the dog, but leaving the neighbors alone. But scared his owner in the extreme, who could not get through the gate for several seconds. He was put down that afternoon. (He was getting old and arthritic, too, but this was his lst chance at being dangerous.)

Last edited by Lost Sheep; July 5, 2009 at 02:24 AM.
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Old July 5, 2009, 01:51 AM   #14
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What kind of dogs? (OP, see note in my post below. JohnKSa)

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Last edited by JohnKSa; July 5, 2009 at 02:15 AM. Reason: Added note.
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Old July 5, 2009, 02:07 AM   #15
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I'm glad you and your family are OK and Happy 4th to you all.

Personally I'm not a fan of "warning" shots for various reasons. One, it reduces my ammo capacity, and with a 5 shot J-Frame and three dogs that's cutting it too close for comfort for me. Second, I'm responsible for every round I fire, and any damage it may cause. That means I need to have a verified threat in front of me, or be at the Range to fire my gun. I also need a safe backstop. Third, dogs are really hard to kill with a handgun, and easy to miss. I much prefer a shotgun loaded with 00 Buck for most adversaries, bi-pedal or canine.

I faced off three stray pit bulls one night in an alley with only a J-Frame. No shots were fired, but I wasn't feeling too keen about only having five rounds. For dogs in crowded environs I've resorted to getting bit, unless I have the shotgun. My preferred technique is to "give" the dog my arm while I rip with my blade. This does two things, first it shows that the dog in question is in fact a threat and second it reduces danger to others if I miss with my handgun. Yes, my technique is traumatic to witness, and it hurts to get bit, but it does work, at least in my limited expirience.

Take care and stay safe.

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Old July 5, 2009, 02:14 AM   #16
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What kind of dogs?
To the OP. Please respond with size & weight information but NOT the breed.

From past experience it is impossible to keep a dog thread civil once the topic of breed is introduced.
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Old July 5, 2009, 02:19 AM   #17
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5Whiskey -- What size of dog?

For me, it's the size and breed of the dogs that would determine my reaction. A pair of Yorkshire Terriers would be a nusiance. A pair of Irish Wolfhounds or even Airdales would be frightening.

As to warning shots... Human beings can recognize the significance of you presenting a firearm pointed in their direction. An animal usually does not. If verbal commands and attempts to make yourself look larger and more aggressive don't work and you want to dissuade the dog, a shot may do the trick just due to the loudness of the gun shot. I'd probably never use more than two shots for that purpose, however.

Originally Posted by jacobie
So you can read dog's minds? How do you know they just were not in a hurry to lick someone or be petted?
It's not a dog's mind that you can read, but its body language. I've owned Dobermans, worked with Rottweilers and other breeds. You can generally tell the difference in the way they hold their bodies or the noises they make when they are agressive vs. playful.¹

Originally Posted by Jacobie
I...think you over reacted and if you were willing to fire your gun in a subdivision at "charging dogs" that had not [a]ttacked anyone yet I think you need not carry a gun.
Originally Posted by Jacobie
I am willing to take a dog bite before I fire my gun. When a[n]d only when the dog was "attacking" someone would I then even think of firing my gun, to me a few stitches would not be a big deal to know that I was justified...
You've never been around large dogs much, have you? If you have, you'd know how arrogant that statement sounds.

I think it's also fair to say you have never seen the results of an attack by one (much less two) aggressive dogs of any consequential size. An attack by a dog between 50 - 90 pounds can be very serious. A labrador or even a Golden Retriever can do a lot of damage. Other dogs, like Rotts, Dobermans and Shepherds will grab hold, then shake, stripping muscle from the bone. I've seen the result from an untrained Shepherd defending his lady owner. Gruesome is an apt word for the results.²

So sure, you go ahead and let him take that first bite. I won't. But I won't shoot if there is a chance I can use voice commands and what's called "command presence" to ward off the dog. A large animal like a Rottwieler, Shepherd, Labrador, Wolfhound, etc. at 20 feet that is being aggressive and threatening is too close for comfort. They can cross that span in less than one second.

Remember too, the Tueller drill says a man can cover 21 feet in 1.3-1.5 seconds.
I guarantee you that an animal like this....

can cover 21 feet in less than one second.

¹ The primary difference is watching their gait and how they place their front feet. A playful dog's front feet will splay out so he can change direction quickly. A dog coming to greet you will hold his head up and wag his tail, taking trotting steps. Rump down and ears back indicate an attack is imminent.
² The woman's 94 lb female German Shepherd was not protection trained. But when a stranger assaulted her in the garden, Heidi first removed a 4" piece of his left buttock, then grabbed his left arm and shook it. Her teeth stripped away most everything on his ulna bone from elbow to 3" above the wrist. She inflicted several other bites before he quit trying to fight and collapsed when he got to the sidewalk. (He also had priors for drugs and assaulting women).
BillCA in CA (Unfortunately)

Last edited by BillCA; July 5, 2009 at 02:24 AM.
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Old July 5, 2009, 02:28 AM   #18
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Well, considering there was kids involved, it's understandable that you wanted extra precaution, but I have to say that warning shots just waste ammo. What if the dogs didn't back off and continued to engage you and your warning shots caused your gun to jam? Also too, it's the Fourth, is it possible that the dogs were just freaked out a bit from the fireworks and just running around? During a couple hours ago when we were setting off fireworks here, there was a dog running around and it was running up to random people and not doing anything. Just running around harmlessly.

Anyways, glad everything worked out in the end and there was no injuries either to you, your party, and the dogs.
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Old July 5, 2009, 02:37 AM   #19
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So you can read dog's minds? How do you know they just were not in a hurry to lick someone or be petted?
Some of us CAN read doggie body language quite well.

One big clue is the tongue. If it's flopping around loose, it's set up for maximum blood cooling and is NOT retracted out of the way prior to chomping. That's actually your best clue, unless it's VERY cold out - unlikely this time of year anywhere in US.

Second is that dogs will almost never come up to a stranger at a dead flat sprint. They'll "bound" towards you. It's still running but it's more obviously playful.

Remember, dogs have a form of body language they can read off of each other, loosely similar to most carnivores...which is why you have those famous pics and videos of polar bears playing with huskies up in Canada, or why my ferrets could make friends with dogs at the park who had never seen a ferret before despite a weight difference of around factor of 20 or more.

Some of us are very capable of reading carnivore body language.

As to the warning shots. If the backstop was decent, and it sounds pretty good (dirt at a steep inbound angle?), then I'm not going to second guess. Well...OK, three seems odd, one should have done it, two at the most. But he was there, I wasn't.
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Old July 5, 2009, 07:04 AM   #20
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I'm with the people here who've written about body language. If you've spent time around dogs, you can possibly detect aggressive vs. playful/curious/whatever behavior.

I think the fact that there were kids in the OP's party probably has a good bit to do with his reaction. I don't think I'd pull a gun on a dog if I knew it was owned and not diseased or something (a wild dog running at me is going down for sure), but I can't say I wouldn't pull if there were kids at risk, even if the dogs WERE spoken for. Protecting kids comes before everything else.

Three shots does seem like one or two too many, but like others have written, only the OP was there. In any event, and with all due respect, I guarantee this was a far bigger ordeal for him than for anyone commenting, so I don't see why people should be snarky. If you disagree, fine, but why be condescending about it? The guy's already struggling with what happened.

Just a few thoughts from the peanut gallery.
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Old July 5, 2009, 07:38 AM   #21
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Did you call 911 after you fired the three shots and report what happened?
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Old July 5, 2009, 07:39 AM   #22
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2 dogs makes this situation much worse. They were only 1 short of a pack.

I agree with others in that 1 shot may have been enough. However, in your situation sounds like you did need to shoot at least once.

I find it odd that these dogs reacted this way with so many people in your 'pack'.

I think it was a territorial thing and doubt they would have ventured far off their territory but hey... I wasn't there.

My only tactical question is after you fired did you zero in on the closest dog in case you had to take it down? I mean after all, you had to pick one and you can't shoot both at once.
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Old July 5, 2009, 07:44 AM   #23
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Did these dogs ever actually leave their owner's property?
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Old July 5, 2009, 08:32 AM   #24
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I would have pulled my gun only if absolutely necessary, and it didn't sound like this was. Maybe a little too quick to pull.
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Old July 5, 2009, 08:43 AM   #25
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Willing to take a few bite marks? Can't read minds?

Willing to take permanent tendon or ligament damage?

Willing to take upwards of 100 stitches?

Willing to lose muscle tissue?

Willing to lose use of the limb?

Methinks Jacobie hasn't read much on large dog breed attacks. Either that, or he's much braver than I am.

Note: Broke up a fight between a Great Pyrenee and a Pit bull yesterday at the park. I love dogs, and am not unduly afraid of large breeds. Violently aggressive large breeds inspire what I consider a reasonable and necessary amount of fear. In the market for a Vizsla at the moment, and have owned a shepherd/rott mix and a catahoula, and taken care of dogs ranging from labs to American bulldogs. I have a lot of experience at breaking up fights at my local dogpark, too.

However, the injuries I described above have all been suffered in recent history by victims of serious dog maulings. I didn't bother to list fatalities, but although they are rare, they happen, too.

So how much injury are you willing to suffer before a firearm comes into play, exactly?

On reading of minds, as several posters have already noted, it's all in the body language. Some breeds are more vocal than others, so growling isn't necessarily a valid cue, but it isn't hard to read body language if you know dogs in general. The OP indicated he has plenty of dog experience, so I'll assume he can read the cues.

In the OP's case, assuming he is familiar with dogs, and the dogs were threatening, and assuming he had a safe backstop for his warning shots, I have no problem with his actions. The local police may cite him for discharging a firearm within city limits (I know somebody who was hit with a misdemeanor charge in the Orlando area for dispatching a rattlesnake in his yard with an M-1 carbine many years ago), but then again they may not.

One thing is sure, the dogs didn't harm the OP or his group, and neither the dogs nor any third parties were actually harmed.
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