What self-defense lesson can healthcare providers learn from a Chihuahua and a Rottweiler?

What self-defense lesson can healthcare providers learn from a Chihuahua and a Rottweiler?


A Chihuahua has a reputation as a trash talker. It has to have a lot of bark because he can’t back it up with any real devastating bite. You know, “Yipe, Yipe, *shiver*, Yipe” and then a frightened nip to someones ankle.


While on the contrary a Rottweiler is known as a notoriously silent dog. Hence the nickname “Devil-Dog”.  The Rotty  doesn’t brag much. Just patiently waits for you to stroll upon him then he delivers his vicious bite. Not much to say about it…just let you know a serious mistake was just made. The Rotty may kindly allow an unsuspecting burglar into a residence… the getting out on the other hand may prove to be a different story altogether.

When we look at human behavior, particularly within the realm of the use-of-force either in aggression or self-defense, we can observe patterns akin to that of the trash-talking Chihuahua and the quiet, often-times surprising strength of the Rottweiler.

Anyone who has spent much time in the field of emergency medicine can immediately recognize co-workers who resemble characteristics of either the ankle-biting “rat on crack” versus the one who is the notoriously quiet one in the room…that you know you would really not rather mess with.

Traits of the Chihuahua:chihuhua2

  • Talks smack (Yipes) a lot- Particularly when it comes to how many times they have used force in medicine
  • Only strong in a pack- Only uses force in numbers when there is no fear of losing
  • Quickly loses credibility when barking (people see bark is much worse than the bite)


Traits of the Rottweiler:

  • Little Trash-Talk- Rarely if ever has to speak about the use rotty2of force
  • Always Strong- Doesn’t feel the need to prove it to anyone
  • Immediately recognized as possessing strength


If you are having any doubts these traits exist within the culture of emergency medicine, simply watch social media and observe the pack-drive mentality of some and what they say about using force on the job. While they (Chihuahua) may be the few, they are usually doing the barking,  the most vocal. Think about some of your co-workers and how they discuss what restraint techniques, drugs they used,  or threats to allegedly control someone they labeled a “combative patient” while on the job. You may have heard them brag about it in a break room, nurses station or back at a base. Chihuahua or Rottweiler?

When training to be a K-9 Handler years ago my instructor told me this- “You can never teach a mean dog to be nice, but you can teach a nice dog to be mean“.  Boy, I had no idea at the time how that statement would lead me to train people in self-defense.

In self-defense for medical staff, if criminally attacked, I want the nice dog to be mean. I need them to be the Rotty not the Chihuahua. If barking all the time, nipping at the heels of the public, any use of force may be perceived by the courts (public opinion and actual legal) as though it was warranted based upon the actions and choice of verbiage by the Chihuahua.

When acting like the Rottweiler, the one who didn’t talk trash before or after a violent encounter and actually didn’t want to have to “bite” to begin with.  When delivering the bite, the nice dog doesn’t try to “kill” its aggressor, instead it bites, then releases, in the hopes it used a reasonable amount of force to cause it’s aggressor to cease its act of aggression. Those same courts may have more of the “well, you shouldn’t have done that and you would not have been bitten” all while sending the aggressive dog to the pound.

Folks, it is much more than just a couple of moves, techniques, we need to stop violence directed at emergency medical staff. We need an actual culture change, not just on our part, but how we are perceived as well. We have apparently LOST OUR NEUTRALITY It took time for it to get like this, it is going to take time to correct.

Be the Rottweiler, not the Chihuahua.

Train up! Everyoneinmedicalservices