I am searching for a word/phrase for quite a while now both off- and online without any findings. There is a phrase set a dog on somebody, which in my understanding means that the "setter" of the dog makes the dog attack someone when all three of them are present at the time of "setting". However I am looking for a word/phrase that describes when the "setter" is training the animal to attack anyone in the future when certain conditions are met. Example sentence:
The dog was xxx someone touching the wallet.
Of course xxx could be trained to attack, but I think it is rather a paraphrase and not a term that I am looking for, something equivalent might exist in English as in Hungarian for the word csibészel(tet). In case there is no equivalent, is there a phrase set a dog on something, i.e. make it act in the future when the "setter" is not present?

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    Hi Dávid, what is "sy"? Is it an abbreviation for 'some...'?
    – Joachim
    Commented Jan 15, 2023 at 17:24
  • @Joachim Hi. It seems I have already learned something, namely that the Hungarian dictionaries' abbreviations are not global standards - so I updated the question. Commented Jan 15, 2023 at 17:38
  • "Trained to attack" works perfectly for me here. It means exactly what you want to say. Google says csibészel is "with chicks" and csibészeltet is "chicken cutlet". So this looks like some untranslatable Magyar metaphor. (Actual attack dogs are always trained to attack on command - actual guard dogs are trained to bark at strangers, and not attack because nobody wants to pay a robber's hospital bills, but that is beside the point)
    – James K
    Commented Jan 15, 2023 at 21:22
  • @JamesK Well, if there is no other option that works for me as well - there is no such thing as set a dog on something, or is there? (Unfortunately computer translations are a 'little bit' ill, give you answers even if they have no sample, instead of saying "I don't know". Commented Jan 16, 2023 at 8:05
  • Set a dog on somebody is a real expression which corresponds to what James said - "Attack dogs are trained to attack [an actual person] on command". You can't set a dog on a hypothetical person who may do something wrong in the future. Commented Jan 16, 2023 at 9:29

2 Answers 2


Ad you say, to set a dog on someone is to command the dog to attack a person who is present. There is no equivalent term for training a dog to attack, or do anything else to, a person in particular circumstances in the future, other than train a dog to...

(Online translation software produces various irrelevant results for the Hungarian term you mention.)


Sic is an alternative used in both American and British English, see for example Collins and Merriam-Webster.

E.g. to sic a dog on someone

to incite/urge to attack

  • My understanding is that it doesn't mean it is happening in advance - does it? Commented Mar 7 at 7:39
  • @DávidLaczkó you are right, the siccing action is devoid of any temporal meaning by itself andI only presented as an alternative to setting a dog on someone as it's more natural sounding to me. Otherwise siccing just expresses the action of ordering the dog to attack someone. Siccing in advance a dog seems improbable but even then the clause 'in advance' should be used explicitly I'd think.
    – vbx
    Commented Mar 7 at 21:04

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