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How to Protect Yourself From A Soi Dog Attack In Thailand
In Thailand confrontations with aggressive Soi dogs is an everyday common occurrence. Local Thais know how to deal and fend off and protect themselves from Soi dogs so they come out unscathed. Sadly there are reports of death by dog mauling on children. Fortunately those stories are few and far in between.
As a short stay tourist you may not come across a vicious Soi dog especially when you are in the heavily traveled tourist destinations in Bangkok. But what do you do when you come across a wild Soi dog eying you like a t-bone steak? Do you fight or do you run?
Soi dogs are strays found throughout Thailand and there are many roaming the lanes and alleyways which in Thai are called 'Soi'. They usually congregate in packs, living in open lots and vacant spaces. Most Soi dogs are harmless pooches and are taken care of and fed by Thais who run street side businesses and kind residents. While eating at a street side restaurant you may find a few harmlessly begging for food by your table.
But you may come across some that are very aggressive and look like it's ready to do bodily harm. The first thing you should do is to stay calm because dogs can smell fear. I know it's not easy when you are face to face with one or more snarling and growling at you.
I've had more than a few hairy encounters with Soi dogs but mostly on the secluded beaches of Thailand's beautiful islands and coastline. There were instances where dogs would bark at me while I am snorkeling off shallow waters. It is most likely due to my appearance of having snorkeling gear on me, so I can see why the dogs would bark at me as if I were the creature from the Black Lagoon. But those occurrences were a walk in the park.
My Nightmarish Encounter With Soi dogs
The worst Soi dog episode I've experienced was when I was meeting a
friend at a hotel he was staying at on a quiet section of Sukhumvit road
in Bangkok. I was walking past a restaurant that had recently closed
down. I was first approached by a Soi dog which started growling at me
but didn't make a move. So I was cool and kept cool and walked calmly
with the corner of my eye set on the dog. Then out of the dark another
appeared, this one was more aggressive and rushed at me. Then another
appeared out of nowhere too and joined in.
My caveman instincts kicked in and I ran. Which I wasn't supposed to. I felt a nip on my calf as I sprinted. Luckily it couldn't get a grip on me. I ran like the wind with 3 dogs in tail. I barreled up the stairs to a pedestrian walkway and looked back and the dogs stopped in their tracks but continued barking.
I have to admit I was embarrassed. Even though this took place in a quiet area around midnight there are still locals on the Sois eating and drinking as well as many cars on the road who've most likely witnessed me screaming and running like a child. I saw a Family Mart up ahead and decided I just earned myself a beer from escaping a pack of wild dogs. When I went to pay at the counter I noticed a nasty scrape on my wrist.
It happened while I was scrambling up the the stairs
to save my own life.
Use Common Sense While Walking Off The Beaten Path
As I mentioned earlier you may not come across any mean spirited Soi dogs on your short holiday while visiting from one tourist attraction to the next in central Bangkok. However, some might feel the need to walk off the beaten path through side alleys and lanes, especially at night. And that's where most Soi dogs make their homes. And they are very, very territorial even though they are familiar with humans.
The Best Offense Is A Good Defense
Thailand is a nation blessed with many idyllic beaches. And it's near the beaches that I have had the most run ins with violent Soi dogs, though never as serious as my altercation in Bangkok.
Now whenever I go to a secluded beach I always find myself a big wooden stick. As long as my arms with heft and durability. There are many trees on the islands so it should't be hard to find one at all. If you can't find a big one then use whatever is available. I have seen a Thai scare off dogs with a 1 foot stick. Personally I feel better wielding something larger and bigger.
The best thing to do is to just back away, without turning your back. But if you don't have any other alternative you just might have to build up some courage and scare the dogs.
Soi dogs usually don't just charge at you right away. First they size you up and kind of wait until you make the first move. If you feel that the situation is getting too hairy then wave the stick and start screaming at the top of your lungs. If you have successfully scared off the leader of the pack then the rest will back off too. This has worked like a charm for me in several occasions.
Why do you think Soi dogs attack?
Why do Soi dogs attack?
Soi dogs living on the streets of Thailand are very territorial. While some are more overprotective than others. And they will bark or show aggressive behavior to anyone who they think are a threat while encroaching their territory. It doesn't matter if you are Thai or not, because dogs are color blind. However, the way you smell might give you off.
It's usually the leader of the pack that is the most aggressive and whatever it does the pack follows suit whether it be charging or retreating.
There are usually a few sentry dogs in the pack guarding an area. If you see one eying you I would get back a bit because if it barks there will be more dogs coming.
The best thing to do is to back away, without turning your back. By keeping a safe distance from aggressive Soi dogs you will have successfully avoided a run in and a bad experience in Thailand.