A St. John's dog owner says she was alerted that someone was trying to steal her Newfoundland dog out of her yard, by her yappy Chihuahua.

Sharon Dooling says she put her Newfoundland dog, Silas, and Chihuahua, Carly, in the backyard around 8:00 Saturday night.

'She's my guard dog. Some people have big Dobermans — I have a Chihuahua.' - Sharon Dooling

After less than a minute, Dooling said her Chihuahua was barking up a storm and she opened the door to quiet the animal.

"There was a gentleman just here with him [Silas] in his hand, on his leash, had his own leash hooked up to his leash and was dragging him down the driveway," said Dooling.

"I said, 'Excuse me, what are you doing?' he told me he's taking his dog and I said, 'No, you're absolutely not.'"

Dooling said in the heat of the moment she panicked, and punched the would-be dog thief in the face and took her dog back.

Sharon Dooling on attempted dog theft

Sharon Dooling says her immediate reaction of punching the would-be thief in the face may not have been the best idea, but it was effective. (CBC)

"You never know what you're going to do in a situation. A lot of people say I would have done this or I would have done that, but you don't really know what you're going to do in a particular situation until it actually happens" she said.

"That's the only thing I could think of. I'm little, I'm a little tiny person and this guy was around 5'8", 5'9" and there was no way that I was going to be able to wrestle the dog out of his hands so the only thing I could think was just punch him."

Dooling said her reaction was somewhat effective and the man was shaken up. Once she had her dog back, the man took off and ran down the street.

The incident was reported to the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, which earlier this week issued a plea for people to call in about reports of alleged dog thefts in the St. John's area.

As for her dogs, Dooling said Silas was subdued for much of the night and next day after the near-theft, while Carly the Chihuahua was on high alert, barking at anything that passed by the windows.

But Dooling said that's OK with her.

"Never underestimate the power of a yappy Chihuahua," she said.

"It's an inconvenience or a nuisance, you could say, when she does bark, but she's my guard dog. Some people have big Dobermans — I have a Chihuahua."

Newfoundland dog Silas and owner Sharon Dooling

Sharon Dooling says her immediate reaction when someone tried to steal her Newfoundland dog, Silas, was to punch the man in the face. (CBC)

With files from Mark Quinn