I still remember my first time playing through that area in irithyll where you face a pack of 2 dogs and then a pack of 3 dogs. I died at least 15 times to those dogs. I was using farron greatsword and abyss watcher armour, which I now realize has no poise at all. On top of this, Farron greatsword L1's first dagger hit actually knocks these dogs 3-4 meters back, causing the actual L1 to miss entirely. Absolutely fury inducing.
In subsequent playthroughs I learnt to just use perseverance WA. Their attacks bounce off you and they get stunned as if you were holding a shield.