SHEPHERD's DOGS IN THE CAUCASUS - THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW
Shepherd´s dogs are not as dangerous as bears or wolves, but are usually a much bigger nuisance. That´s because during you stay in Georgia, there is a solid chance that you won´t see
a single wild animal, but you will encounter countless shepherds dogs. In Georgian mountains, we mostly saw short-haired breed of Caucasian ovcharka called “nagazi”.
However, there are several similar breeds used for herding and it’s often hard to determine whether the dog can be classified as Georgian shepherd or not.
But it doesn’t matter that much after all, especially in the moment when they bite you in the ass.
How to avoid problems with shepherd dogs? First of all, it´s necessary to realize that a dog is not some bloodthirsty beast trying to eat you at the first occasion.
It´s just a trained animal trying to find balance between its sense of duty, laziness and fear of pain. If you don´t give him a reason, he won´t attack.
So, in a nutshell - don´t walk through flocks of sheep. Shepherd dogs are teritorial creatures and in such case they have no choice but to attack.
If you come to the flock (doesn´t matter if you see any dogs or not), look for a shepherd - the safest passage through the flock is in his company.
If he is not around, yell something like “gamarjobat!” and hope he will show up. If he doesn´t, walk around the flock, ideally uphill, so even if some dog decidesd to harass you,
he has to attack upwards.
The safest passage through the flock of sheep
It’s also good to keep in mind that barking doesn’t always express aggression from dog’s side. Sometimes he just wants to alert everybody of your presence and show himself as a good guardian.
Friendly shepherd dog is relaxed, wags his tail and stands “sideways” (you can see him from th side).
On the opposite, the dog ready to attack faces you directly, growls, flattens his ears and bares his teeth.
If the dog confronts you, use your trekking pole or any other stick to keep him on distance - protect your “territory”.
Don’t be afraid to poke him if he comes too close, but be prepared that he will try to grab it. If you don’t have any, pick some smaller stones or pices of soil.
Then raise your hand - dogs understand this gesture well.
There are also other techniques how to fight these dogs (cover your secondary arm and use it as a shield, go for the eyes, etc), but the chance you would have to use them is really slim.
I have no experience with it so I would just have to be googling. So instead, just one last advice - try to avoid the confrontation.
If the dog blocks your path, it´s better to wait even 10-15 minutes for the shepherd than force your way forward and risk an injury.
Georgian shepherd dogs are very cute when small
but that doesn't last for too long
My travel insurance
As you can see above, trekking in Georgia is not particularly risky compared to the rest of the world. Still, it would be reckless to travel without an insurance (I think you already see where is this going - I would be a very lousy travel blogger if I didn't try to sell you some travel insurance ). During the last 10 years I spent hiking and trekking, I used two insurances.
When I was younger, I used to have more time and could make several long trekking trips a year. My main priority was to protect myself and my relatives from unexpected costs. Because of this, I used to be a member of Austrian Alpine Club (Alpenverein). After paying the yearly membership fee of about 60 EUR, I got an insurance tailored for mountains which covered rescue costs, medical treatment as well as the repatriation costs (tho my parents didn´t look too relieved when I stressed this fact before travelling abroad).
Then my priorities shifted. Since I have a family now, I spend less time hiking and need an insurance which not only covers everything mentioned above but will also provide for them in case that something happens to me. Because of this, I started to look for more general insurance for specific dates. For my summer trekking trips, I use SafetyWing travel insurance since I am very satisfied with the coverage it offers for its cost.
SafetyWing also offers Remote Health - a more robust, full-fledged health insurance which, unlike their travel insurance covers also home country and pre-existing conditions and illnesses.
Disclaimer: Those SafetyWing links are the affiliates. That means that if you click it and buy some insurance from them, I will get a small comission. But that's not why I am promoting them, they simply look the best to me (compared it with local insurance companies as well as global ones such as World Nomads).