Practical advice

What to do if you meet animals on a camping trip?

If we meet a dog

  • NEVER run
  • Do not shake your hands or yell at him or threaten him with a stick or similar
  • Don’t look him straight in the eye
  • You don’t smile (you can interpret it as a threat when you show your teeth)
  • Stay still, silent or speaking softly, with your hands glued to the body, facing another direction but keeping the animal in your peripheral vision.
  • Keeping calm is very important. Animals easily detect fear, and if they see that they have a dominant position, it will be easier for them to decide to attack. In many cases, the dog will simply have a curious, playful attitude, or he may have become frightened by our presence. It may come close to just sniffing us.
  • Try not to let anyone in the group panic. Talk softly explaining the situation and what they have to do. If there are children in the group or more vulnerable people, we will place ourselves as a barrier between the animal and these people, always with gentle movements and as without giving importance.
  • A dog, unless it is trained to attack, will have an aggressive attitude for having invaded its territory or because it feels threatened. We will try to retrace our steps calmly, leaving that conflict zone so that the animal calms down. The dog will first try to warn us with his barking, although it seems a very aggressive attitude, most of the time it is simply a warning and will not pass from there.
  • If none of this works, and the dog continues with an aggressive attitude and approaches to attack: without making sudden movements, try to find some object that serves as a shield, for example, the backpack. 
  • If you carry a cane or a stick, place it in front of you, in its normal position resting on the ground, to serve as a protection. Do not pick him up or threaten him.
  • If you finally launch the attack. Give him a strong, authoritative order: Quiet! Or SIT! Close your hands in a fist to avoid being bitten by your fingers. If you have a stick or a cane, place it as a protection in front, with both hands, to make it prey on it. It should bite you in a forearm (better than a leg, for example). If you prey on the forearm, try pressing with the forearm towards the inside of the mouth (as if to open the jaw more) instead of pulling, if possible, hold the head tightly with the other hand or pressing it against a tree. In this way, we will avoid or minimize tears and also weaken the jaw muscles of the animal and will eventually let go.
  • If he bites you in one arm and you wear a jacket, try to take off your garment so he can continue to bite you. 
  • If he bites you on a limb and makes prey, and you don’t have the option of grabbing his head or letting go as in the previous points (for example if he bites you on one leg), you will have to defend yourself by hitting him on the neck, ribs or nose. The nose button is a very sensitive point in dogs.
  • Always keep the vertical position. If for whatever reason it knocks you down and you lose control of the situation, try to put yourself in a fetal position, with your arms protecting your face and neck and your fists protecting your ears.

The behavior of mastiffs. Mastiffs are dogs that care for cattle. They have to defend a territory from possible predators (it is their job). This perimeter of work is known by the animal, but not us, so that we may have entered its perimeter without realizing it.

The mastiff can bark us from afar to warn us, and that is what he will do almost always, but he can also approach us, sometimes in a calm, friendly way, to mark us. Marking means that it will bite us on one arm or one leg, even causing injury, but with no intention of killing (that is, from their point of view it is not an attack but a warning for us to leave)

Before arriving at that situation, what we must do is to go back and move away from the animal, to leave its territory. And if it is necessary to make a detour or simply turn around if we see that we are not going to get around the animal with guarantees.

If we find cattle

  • The wild cattle are normally in fenced areas; it is not usual for a hiking route to pass through a pasture with bulls. In any case, the bulls are territorial animals; if we are in a place with the presence of bulls, it is necessary to leave a prudential distance and surround if necessary the area in which they are.
  • In isolated areas, you may have gained little accustomed to human presence.
  • Cows will only attack if they feel cornered, out of fear, or to protect their young. We must always leave an escape route for both the cows and us, that is, that they do not feel cornered and that we have freedom of movement in case we should get out of their way. If cows occupy the path and there is no way to surround that section, it is preferable to wait for them to leave and pass by them in a section with more space. Cows will always have a passing preference.
  • Do not shout or make noise when we are near cows. They can scare and attack, or they can simply overwhelm us while trying to flee.
  • Never stand between a calf and his mother. If there are calves, it is a good idea to make a detour or leave a fairly wide margin.
  • If a bull (or a cow) is approached with an aggressive attitude, it is preferable to go back without turning its back or making sudden movements and trying to leave its territory or look for something that will serve as a refuge. 

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