The Hammer – Why Dogs Attack Us and How to Prevent It

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Hard-hitting statistics and facts about dog attacks in America combined with vivid, descriptive writing convey the urgent need to be educated about the real causes of dog aggression and how to prevent or stave off an attack to avoid serious injury or death.

Using the metaphor of a hammer to illustrate an attacking dog’s aggression — its tool of choice for survival — animal behaviorist Bryan Bailey candidly explores why the number of dog attacks in the United States continues to rise annually. Furthermore, Bailey reveals the harsh realities of actual dog fatality cases, for instance that many victims are killed by their own dog or a dog that they know. His book dedication to the victims of canine aggression is in itself alarming and compelling, as it lists the names and ages of victims — the eldest one of whom was 96-years-old and the youngest of whom was just two-days-old.

The Hammer is a heartfelt and convincing solution to what Bailey calls “willful ignorance.” He clearly articulates the relationship between dog and wolf, reminding us that, despite being domesticated, the dog’s wolf ancestry and basic “wild” survival instinct can be triggered and completely override the agenda set by a human. It is therefore vital that one respects the animal’s basic nature. Bailey asserts that with some rudimentary knowledge of canine behavior, one has the ability to accurately interpret the warning signals given by a dog when it intends to bite you, so you can either avoid the attack or save yourself when an attack is underway.

As part of his defensiveness training, Bailey outlines what he calls “The Four Factors of an Attack.” These are the factors that lead to most dog attacks: disbelief, blindness, ignorance, and speed. He also defines “competitive aggression” — the inherent use of any level of force to acquire and safeguard what they perceive to be their limited resource of food — and defines the three steps to successfully prevent it.

While Bailey’s facts and guidance are straight to the point and effective, his vignettes about several dog victims reveal Bailey’s masterful storytelling skills. Each story drives home Bailey’s point about recognizing the warning signals being given by the dog that foreshadows an attack as well as the need for dog owners to be more responsible. Expertly written, the stories are profound and disturbing. Each reveals rich characters and setting, the serene beauty and innocence of a moment that is interwoven with suspense that leads to an inevitable attack that is dramatic and harrowing.

Although Bailey acknowledges there are numerous complexities to the subject of dog attacks — such as ferocity of breed versus owner influence on dog — he purposely cuts through the overwhelming jargon and dialogue in this topic to provide readers with specific, comprehensible information to recognize and thwart dog aggression. But The Hammer is not only about saving people. Bailey’s non-judgmental tone not only encourages gaining insight to a dog’s mindset but also raises awareness for dog owners in their training of dogs. Ultimately, a better understanding of dogs will reduce seemingly “unprovoked” attacks, for which dogs are being condemned to die.

The Hammer is a moving, thought provoking, and indispensable guide that calls for awareness, education, and action to save not only the lives of people but of dogs. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Reviewed By:

Star Count 5/5
Format eBook
Page Count 240 pages
Publisher Best Seller Publishing
Publish Date 2017-Dec-16
ISBN 9781946978387 Buy this Book
Issue January 2018
Category Science & Nature


  1. David Torres

    As someone who was a Scout Dog Handler in Vietnam and then a Sheriff’s Deputy K9 Handler, and now the owner of a large dog Kennel and training facility where we interact with over 300 dogs a week, this was a must read for me. There are so many books out there on Dogs and in my own old man politically incorrect way can only say that most of them are useless. I disagree with some of what Mr. Bailey has written, but on those conclusions I may disagree with, I have no doubt that if he and I sat down and discussed my disagreement he would have a solid foundation for his conclusions. Point being the book is clearly well researched and well thought out. As I teach seminars I am actually going to use this book for one of those group discussions. Very thought provoking.

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