I read a lot about the stray dogs in Thailand before our trip. They generally form packs and roam the streets or beaches freely. They can be very territorial and reports of dog attacks (both dog and human) are common in certain areas. If they do have an owner, the dogs typically don’t stay inside the home, but rather food gets put outside for them and they might have had their shots and been spayed/neutered. In the past, the stray dog population had grown so large that “poisonings” were the only way to cut back on the growing numbers. There are now several nonprofit animal welfare organizations with their main goal being to sterilize the animals and provide vaccinations. I plan to volunteer with one in the future.
Our experience with the strays has been ok so far. Typically one dog will bark alerting the others to come then they start to surround us. Kuma is larger than all the dogs I’ve seen but that doesn’t matter when it’s 10 on 1. Luckily he doesn’t bark back or antagonize them, but it’s then my job to protect us both and shoo the dogs away. The most important thing is to stand strong and show them that YOU are the alpha. A quick stomp in their direction or pretending to pick up a rock or sand to throw at them will usually make them back off. Almost every dog here has been hit, kicked, or beaten off some form so they know to avoid these actions. Carrying a water bottle or big stick would be smart if you know you are going to an area with a lot of strays. NOTE: I’ve never hit any of the dogs here like I said if you show that you aren’t scared of them they will usually back off. I even let Kuma play with a few of them on the beach after the pack of 10 dogs had narrowed down to 3 friendly ones. I kept a close watch of course and Kuma stayed on a leash while they rolled in the sand and sniffed butts.
With that being said, during my first week here a girl staying at our resort got bit by a dog. She was walking on the beach in the morning and said several of them surrounded her, she was scared and tried to back away from them when one bit her leg. This wasn’t just a little scratch either, they were deep bites. Of course, she is being treated for possible rabies exposure just in case and had the wounds properly bandaged at a clinic. The doctor said it was very common on this island and during the busy season he sees an average of 2 human dog bites a week!!
Since that incident, I became a lot more cautious around the dogs. There were also several dogfights during the day and night happening right behind our place. I could hear the dog screaming from being attacked in the middle of the night. Horrifying. Not to mention it caused Kuma to be on super alert guard dog mode all day long. We made one more trip to the beach and again the dogs barked but I chased them away… so I thought. They snuck in and surrounded us like an ambush while eating dinner, sneaky lil furballs, as they started to attack Kuma the restaurant owner ran them off. Needless to say, it wasn’t a very peaceful evening.
So just as I thought the stray dogs weren’t that bad, I realized you can never let your guard down especially when traveling with a dog. We might be avoiding the beach on this island, pool floaties don’t have teeth.