I am writing a story with a world of sentient animals (equal rights to humans), and some of my main dog characters are part of a police department.

Now, in a world like this, I'm kinda thinking that if your K-9 partner is just as smart as you are, you might want to arm them too so they can back you up with their own pepper spray, taser, or gun. However, a trigger would be a tad hard to reach and pull with paws, and the recoil of even a relatively small 9mm pistol could probably break a canine leg easily. I was thinking maybe a mouth bite trigger and grip, but am also thinking that could be really hard on one's jaw and teeth.

So, I'm here to solicit you folk's help--how could a gun, taser, or pepper spray can be adapted for holstering, carry, and use by an animal with paws?

Note: Dogs have been sentient since the 1790s

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    $\begingroup$ Are guns even necessary? Isn't a knife-wielding human supposed be able to close the distance surprisingly rapidly against a police officer with a drawn gun? And quadripeds tend to be much faster than bipeds to begin with. Seems to me that a gun would be playing to all their weaknesses and none of their strengths. $\endgroup$
    – DKNguyen
    Sep 29, 2020 at 4:37
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    $\begingroup$ The big, fat elephant in he room is that dogs have paws, run on their toes, and don't have anything even pretending to be opposable thumbs. Even a mouth-bite trigger is a bad idea because it eliminates use of the dog's teeth. Bottom line: in the real world, quadrupeds without thumbs are a poor fit for doing anything else except what they do now. (Raccoons and opossums, OTOH, would make excellent sentient creatures.) $\endgroup$
    – RonJohn
    Sep 29, 2020 at 18:11
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    $\begingroup$ You're misusing the word "sentient". Dogs, and all other animals, are already sentient: they can sense, they can experience pleasure and pain. $\endgroup$
    – Chozang
    Sep 29, 2020 at 18:37
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    $\begingroup$ The bigger, fatter elephant in the room (albeit at least alluded to by the OP mentioning holsters) is that when humans use guns, they don't (in theory at least) take them out and point them at anyone else until the situation has begun to escalate. Just figuring out where to mount a gun on the dog's body and contriving how to fire it doesn't address the standard firearms handling issue of leaving the weapon holstered/pointed away under normal circumstances. $\endgroup$
    – Jedediah
    Sep 29, 2020 at 18:39
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    $\begingroup$ I'll also point out that dogs have rather poor eyesight, usually around 20/75, so they have to be far closer to their target to even be able to see them as well as a human could. Dogs are really not built for ranged combat. At distances that a dog could reliably shoot someone, they're probably better off closing the few remaining yards and just biting them as nature intended. Certain breeds do have better eyesight, though. $\endgroup$ Sep 29, 2020 at 18:57

6 Answers 6


Dog's teeth and head are tough. If it isn't an extremely bred breed like a chihuahua (also Devil's Spawn) then you have to imagine a dog running at maximum speed teeth first into their opponent. I have a 27 kg dog who can be lifted off the ground pulling a rope and slung in a circle with just the front teeth holding the rope (although I don't recommend this).

I would place the items on the Dog's head so he aims by looking at them. "Hand"guns are places beneath the head as far away from the ears as possible with the muzzle sticking a bit out from under the Dog's nose to prevent the muzzle flash from burning the fur or the hot air from burning the sensitive nose. Ear protectors are used to help protect the ears. With technology available you could electronically sync a noise cancelling with each shot, helping protect the ears from at least their own gunshots. The guns themselves are modified for the dog specifically, there wont be a literal human handgun sticking out from under their chin. Reloads have to be done by someone else or they use a belt-fed system from their back, but it is likely the dog would disable an enemy with one clip due to how they can operate. If a military dog can get close enough to bite they can shoot you as well. Things like pepperspray and tasers can be placed on top of the head. In case of pepperspray a metal tube would extend a ways over his head and stick out a ways from the nose to prevent eyes or nose accidentally getting sprayed as well. Possibly a few flaps will fall into place and protect the nose when the pepperspray is used while the eyes could use goggles all the time.

Trigger mechanisms are electronic and activated with the tongue. Dog's tongues have a high strength and agility behind it, and a sentient one would be able to learn how to control it to a greater degree. Lethal fire would be on one side of the mouth, non-lethal items on the other to prevent accidents. A double-trigger mechanism that requires for example the clenching of the jaw and a tongue press can reduce accidental firing. You could also use sound triggers, a growling dog is already warning you that he could go off at any second, so growling could be the first trigger and a tongue press the second.


Pepper spray and guns both hurt people (and dogs) not in the line of fire!

Gunfire near a dogs head will deafen them

The gun needs to be near the dogs head for aiming. Either harnessed to an arm, mounted on side, or strapped to head somehow. All of these will damage the dogs hearing substantially after a few shots.

Pepper spray passing a dogs eyes will blind them

Pepper spray is a similar issue. A dog can extend its front paw a decent distance while unbalanced on hind legs, but when balanced the pepper spray needs to come from a similar location very close to their eyes. Tinyest variation in the wind, or if it gets in their coat, they're suffering too.

Taser? Could work

I'd suggest 2 mounted to a harness on either side of the neck. Button in the front middle of the collar to fire them. Can press it twice before he needs to reload.

  • $\begingroup$ You've made me think about this, and I agree that guns are realistically going to be a no-no (call your human partner if something needs shot at). As for pepper spray, I did have an idea from what you said--I know some dogs throw their toys around, so they can throw stuff with their mouth. Perhaps a pepper spray 'grenade' that is primed by biting down on it and thrown like a dog would throw their toy ball? $\endgroup$
    – Jazzyamx
    Sep 30, 2020 at 0:29

It would require a more elaborate setup than a human's gun.

Probably the safest route would be a gun mounted on its back or sides via a secure harness. This is triggered by a lever that the dog can manipulate with its mouth -- jerking it down hard. Then, the harness takes the force of the gun's firing, and so the entire body absorbs it.

Back vs. side will be influenced by the size of the dog and the position of its head. Obviously, it doesn't want to shoot itself in the head, but especially for small dogs, the back helps make it easier to balance without putting equal weight on both sides.


This is how I think it can go.

  • Lower calibers have lower recoil.
  • The overall structure can be made to reduce the recoil.
  • Sub-sonic ammunition exists already.
  • Many weapons in the real world can achieve the whosh sound of fiction. Many silenced weapons are very low and can be used without ear protection. Forgotten weapons features many.
  • So a long well designed silencer can reduce the sound to safe levels.
  • The overall structure of the thing does not have to be similar to human weapons. Think of it as a platform of a gun. Not a normal pistol.
  • You can also reduce the noise effect by having the whole firing part further from the animal. Remember special ops guys want to reduce the total noise while you only want to reduce the damaging part.
  • A paw or jaw level can be made and easily engineered to be easy to pull and be very reliable. Yes the longer the firing group is, I mean the wires and all that, the more it is likely to have trouble but that is just things.
  • Aiming is a bit of a problem but we can start solving it. One word: LASERS. Well zeroed laser can be excellent for an animal as the dog does not have the same control of humans so lasers can be very useful.
  • Another solution is to create the entire platform, again this is not a gun, extent to the head of the animal and goes over their eyes with a sort of iron sights that the animal can use and with time and zero it. You can see something similar with those backup titled sights that you see in movies. YouTube videos exist.
  • Another is to use shotguns to solve the problem of aiming.
  • Ejection can be easily solved as well as you can control it.
  • Reloading however is out of the question. I'm not including this as a frame challenge or anything. I just can't think of a single way for anyone to come up with a system that allows dogs to reload their platform. Maybe a genius can.
  • You won't have larger calibers like ever. But again even a 9mm can still kill at more than a 100 meters. And this is obviously a backup not an actual army or anything.
  • Even without reloading this platform is still viable and can work. I mean engineering, I'm not engineer but it breaks no laws and only mixes stuff that exists already, so if you really need it I think it can be made.

Now I can write a frame challenge to why this will not work or at least have a huge amount of setbacks to the effect of it not being used in any setting like ever. But I'm not sure you want that. Though if you are interested I can do so.

  • $\begingroup$ The lasers worked quite well with the sharks... $\endgroup$ Sep 29, 2020 at 21:27

Even though they might be smart, these dogs don't have the same experience as human adults, they can easily be shot if they stand still to aim, because armor would be too heavy for them, they'll need big calibres if they want to harm animals they'd actually need guns against, they won't have a way to aim a gun as precisely, they won't be able to reload, they won't be able to let go of their gun as a sign of peace, they won't like how the gun feels, etc. I'd stop thinking of them as equal to human officers. Rather give them completely different equipment.

Build it around the natural strengths of dogs: Most taller dogs are faster than humans and have a stronger grip. Let them coordinate in packs, because it will probably feel more natural to them. Have a human throw a flashbang before the dog unit gets sent in, because dogs just aren't as good at throwing things. Dogs would be sent out to rather narrow crime scenes, where humans have problems moving around, e.g. when there's trouble in cat town.

Maybe come up with some kind of mouth taser concept for them. If a dog bites you, you'll get zapped by 500-50000 volts, depending on how strong the bite is.

off-topic below

I'm not sure if you'd even want sentient dogs as officers. 1. because I don't think other sentient animals will respect them. It might feel similar to them like whater is going on in america, with the white cops shooting black people more often than white people in similar scenarios. 2. because there's no need for a dogs natural intelligence or loyality, if all animals have the same intelligence as humans. You might be better off using other animals for skills like flying, climbing, digging, etc. 3. As an example: Patas monkeys are faster than most dogs, they have no reason to feel sympathy for humans, they are harder to hit with weapons that are effective against humans, in nature they don't harm other animals besides insects, they can wrestle animals down without biting them, they don't need a lot of space, they can climb and they have fingers. Give them a harpoon-like taser and a few grenades in a backpack and you are ready to go.

  • $\begingroup$ The question is specific for dogs in a police force. I doubt that every tom dick and harry they meet is wearing bulletproof vests and such, so smaller calibers would be OK for them. If you mount the gun on the head and center it correctly than it will be more accurate than any human, as you use the natural look instinct to gauge distance and face the target as head-on as possible. As for respect: you might as well say that humans wouldnt be respected and the minority. Making such a scenario just to say "and now Dogs dont work" is just unfair and not a good answer. $\endgroup$
    – Demigan
    Sep 29, 2020 at 12:22
  • $\begingroup$ @Demigan "more accurate than any human" - Try aiming a gun strapped to your head and send me a link. Aiming wouldn't come as natural to dogs as it comes to humans ('sentient' doesn't mean 'with equal neural system') and they'd have less time to train. Also imagine policemen constantly aiming at you when looking at you. Now that's a way to de-escalate. "as for respect" - Dogs were bread in a way human language and culture is easier to understand for them. Human hands, on the other hand, are important for any job, because of tech. Using a good mix of animals would probably be best. $\endgroup$ Nov 27, 2020 at 8:41
  • $\begingroup$ I helped someone with a muscle disease that only allowed him to move his head when in a special construction. He did administrative tasks through a laser attached to his head and a keyboard that detects the laser. If the laser was on target for a certain interval (0.5 seconds for starters) it would write the letter. This guy could almost out-type me, and those keyboards can't be close to their face as they have to be able to see the screen as well. So yes, aiming something with your head and eyes is very much possible. $\endgroup$
    – Demigan
    Nov 27, 2020 at 9:12
  • $\begingroup$ The technology seems in decline though, as eye-tracking is now getting good enough to use instead. $\endgroup$
    – Demigan
    Nov 27, 2020 at 9:12
  • $\begingroup$ @Demigan Cool. I mainly talked about other aspects, because I never considered that to be a big problem. Ammunition and gun make a dogs head heavy. Add stabilization, hull, recoil absorber, ear protection, padding, some kind of de-escalation mode, etc. The lighter you make everything, the less useful the gun gets, until it's just a sex toy that allows the dog to fuck its own frontal lobe by biting on a gag trigger and hinders it from moving. Everything would have to be put on by human hand. I also have no clue where you imagine the gear could be fixated in a way the dogs wouldn't hate it. $\endgroup$ Dec 4, 2020 at 15:21

Dogs are weapons on legs

Dogs are natural experts at close combat fighting. They have evolved from wolves and wolves are death machines.

You could provide the dog with hydraulically enhanced, tungsten-coated teeth so they could bite through a plaster wall or bite someone's leg clean off instead of merely grasping and holding.

Instead of giving dogs weapons that were designed for use by bipeds with opposable thumbs, a much better "weapon" would be strategic planning.

The humans and dogs would attend a pre-raid meeting where roles would be assigned. Dogs would be excellent at listening at doors and sniffing out suspects as well as drugs and other substances. Because they are intelligent, they could do this without human aid and would be a hundred times more efficient than current police canines. They would of course have police radios fitted to their collars.


A German Shepherd can outrun Usain Bolt, in fact a cat can outrun Usain Bolt!

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In terms of strategy, use humans for what humans are good at - handling weapons. Use dogs for what dogs are good at - being weapons and running, sniffing and hearing.


Dogs could be fitted with all sorts of jaw extensions. Crocodile-type jaws, bolt-cutters, disarming jaws that literally remove an assailant's arm. Clamping jaws that painfully cling onto someone's leg while anaesthetising them or giving them shocks to slow them down while the dog lets go and attacks separately.

Don't adapt human weapons - make lots of jaw adaptations that require a biting motion to operate.

  • $\begingroup$ I'm thinking of those wrist mounted touch-guns. Not sure if the recoil is manageable with it inside a jaw though. $\endgroup$
    – DKNguyen
    Sep 30, 2020 at 18:15

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