Body Armor for L'il Punks
Updated: May 18
I recently purchased a SpikeVest for my 9-lb. ChiWowWow mix. And in classic WildeBean style, we went bold, choosing the neon pink vest and rainbow whiskers.
At first glance, I'm sure you'll agree this will be a most excellent Halloween costume. But my real hope is that it will provide some deterrence and protection from predators like coyotes, as well as aggressive dogs and birds of prey.
Many of my clients have small-breed dogs or young pups who are currently diminutive in size. Most all say how they worry about their dogs when outside, even in a fenced yard, for fear of attacks by coyotes or birds of prey.
I regularly hear about coyote sightings in my area. Though I've not yet seen one myself, we hike in wooded areas and I've no doubt WildeBean would be a tasty hors d'oeuvre. My radar always goes up when I hear coyote stories, and I'm disturbed when I read about their boldness around even able-bodied adults. For cheap thrills, check out this video clip and read the caption below it.
The SpikeVest that my dog is sporting, along with a similar design by the same company called the CoyoteVest, is made of stab-resistant Kevlar, is lightweight, and has an impressive array of spikes around the neck and up each side of the body. These spikes make it hard for another animal to bite down on areas of the body that are typically targeted by predators. The (optional) whiskers on top make the dog look bigger and weirder, and though they're soft and bend easily, they may have some deterrent effect, too. The company also offers add-on features that are specifically designed to deter birds of prey.
No one claims the vest will ensure zero damage to the dog wearing it, but it certainly could deter some animals, or at least slow down the attack so that you have a more reasonable chance of intervening. There are many testimonials on the company's site describing close calls and dogs surviving actual attacks.
Many people feel some peace of mind when their dog is wearing a vest, and I'm no exception. A sturdy walking stick is also a good idea. If you're considering some type of pepper spray, I have doubts about its effectiveness, not to mention the collateral damage if spray drifts to your dog or you. I read this interesting tidbit, quoted from an article here on a site called Model Mugging:
"Pepper spray was used on police attack dogs testing its effectiveness. When the dog was calmly sitting still, with no attack stimulus, the dog was sprayed in the face and ran away yelping. Later, the same dog was presented a target and then sprayed. The spray had zero effect and the dog charged at full speed attacking the target as if he had not been sprayed at all. The effects on humans are very similar. The effectiveness will depend on the commitment level of each individual."
Here's a video of WildeBean's first hike wearing her vest. It doesn't seem to impact her freedom of movement at all. And apropos of nothing, please note her happy hummingbird tail at the end!
Virginia Dare is a certified dog trainer & behavior counselor with decades of experience. Her business offers live video consultations anywhere in the US for training and behavior help, puppy matchmaking services, and pre- and post-arrival counseling for new puppies. She also provides in-home, private lessons and behavior consultations in northern Fairfield and Westchester counties, western New Haven county, Putnam and southern Dutchess counties.
Please visit www.NorthStarCanines.com/services to learn more, or contact me at 804.784.0120
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