Walking your pet on a dog leash can be a relaxing and enjoyable activity for both you and your furry companion. It is an important time for dog owners to bond with their dogs. It helps them disconnect from their life and truly be there for their dogs.
However, unexpected situations can arise, such as encountering an off-leash dog. An off-leash dog approaching you and your dog while you're out on a walk might be a nerve-racking encounter.
When this happens, it's essential to be prepared for action. You should know how to get out of the situation safely so that you and your dog stay safe.
In this article, we have compiled a guide to follow if you encounter an off-leash dog approaching you while on a stroll with your furry friend.
What Should You Do When Approached By An Off-Leash Dog?
To prevent an off-leash dog from approaching you, block or stop the dog's approach. You can use a firm voice to tell the dog to "Go Home" or "Sit." Step forward using your hand to make a stop motion. Also, try to use your body to block space or throw treats for distraction. Lastly, you can try to startle the dog.
Here are some steps you need to take if an off-leash dog approaches you:
Step 1 - Stay Calm and Examine Dog Body Language
The first step to remember is to stay calm when you see a stray or an off-leash dog approaching you and your dog. Dogs can sense fear and anxiety, which may escalate if you become agitated.
Keep your body language relaxed, and avoid direct eye contact with the approaching dog. Instead, turn your body slightly to the side and avoid facing the dog head-on, as this can be perceived as a threat.
Next, assess the situation. Is the approaching dog aggressive or simply curious?
Suppose the dog is wagging its tail, approaching playfully, and not exhibiting any aggressive behavior. In that case, letting your dog interact with it may be safe.
However, suppose the approaching dog is growling, barking, or exhibiting other signs of an aggressive dog. In that case, it's best to create distance between them.
Here two things will help you i.e.
- Your dog's behaviors toward the off-leash dog while on a leash
- The approaching dog's body language
Both these things will help you determine how quickly and forcibly you must respond.
Understand and Read Body Language
Understanding and reading a dog's body language is essential for effective communication and preventing potential conflicts.
Here are some key signs to look out for when interpreting a dog's body language:
- A dog's ears can tell you a lot about its mood. When a dog's ears are upright, they are alert and focused. When the ears are flattened against the head, it may indicate fear, anxiety, or submission.
- A wagging tail usually indicates that the dog is happy and friendly. However, a tucked tail may indicate fear or anxiety. On the other hand, a stiff, high tail can indicate aggression or dominance.
- A dog's eyes will be soft and slightly squinted when relaxed. Dilated pupils, a hard stare, or a fixed gaze can indicate aggression, fear, or anxiety.
- When a dog is confident and relaxed, their posture will be loose and fluid. However, a tense, stiff, or crouched posture can indicate fear, anxiety, or aggression.
- A dog's mouth can provide valuable clues about its mood. When a dog is relaxed, their mouth will be slightly open, with a lolling tongue. However, a snarling or growling mouth can indicate aggression or fear
Considering these signs together is essential to interpret a dog's body language accurately. Remember that every dog is unique and may exhibit different body language cues. This depends on the other dog's personality and experiences as well.
Suppose you are uncertain about a dog's body language. In that case, it is always best to be cautious and avoid approaching the dog.
Step 2 - Move Away and Create a Barrier
If you have the time and space, take a new route when walking your dog. It is advised to use a treat to divert your dog's attention and keep its focus on you while you move away.
As you leave the area, watch for the loose dog. The best course of action is to stay away from the off-leash dog.
But if the dog moves too quickly toward your dog, you might need more time to get away without first distracting it.
Look around to see if anyone else can help you call the dog out and look for an easy escape route. If your furry friend is small enough to be lifted, pick it up and place it somewhere safe where the other dog can't get to it, like the bed of a pickup truck, the top of a car, or a dumpster.
Practicing a safe stay with your dog could be beneficial in these instances. At the same time, you can deal with the approaching dog.
Pro-Tip: Tell your dog to stay, then place yourself between both dogs.
Step 3 - Stop or Block the Dog's Approach
One way to create distance is to use a verbal command to tell the approaching dog to "go away" or "stay back."
If the dog continues to approach, you can create a physical barrier by stepping in between the two dogs. Try using an object such as an umbrella or walking stick to keep the dog safe.
Avoid using physical force against the approaching dog, which can escalate the situation and lead to injury.
Distract the unleashed dog by throwing treats at him. You can even throw the treats at the dog's face if they are coming at you swiftly to divert attention. This way, you will have time to escape with your dog while they are looking for the treats lying on the ground.
If walking with a friend or family member, have one person hold onto each dog. At the same time, assessing the situation may be helpful. This can prevent unwanted interactions between the dogs and give you more control.
Step 4 - Be Prepared
The best thing you can do when taking your dog on a walk is to be ready to act if an off-leash dog approaches you.
Besides being mentally prepared with a strategy, carry the following items in a fanny pack on your walks:
- Dog treats or dog toys
- Deterrent citronella spray or compressed air
- Slip leash for leashing an off-leash dog
If the approaching dog continues to show aggression or become violent, protecting yourself and your dog is essential. Consider using a personal safety alarm or calling for help from nearby pedestrians.
Use any form of self-defense, like citronella spray, to protect yourself and your dog. Do not use pepper spray as it is inhumane and not dog safe like citronella spray.
After resolving the situation, take a moment to assess your and your dog's emotional states.
Taking care of yourself and your furry friend after a stressful situation like this is essential. Consider taking a break and sitting down to calm your nerves before continuing your walk.
In the future, it's essential to take preventative measures to avoid encountering off-leash dogs. Always keep your dog on a leash and make sure your dog's leash is secure and in good condition.
Consider walking your leashed dog when there are few other dogs around. Also, avoid high-traffic areas where you may encounter a stray or off-leash dog.
But if you end up in a situation where you have to break up a fight, we have a few tips for you!
How To Break Up A Fight Safely?
Breaking up a dogfight can be dangerous and should be done with caution.
Here are some steps to follow to break up a dog fight safely:
1) Do Not Use Your Hands
Do not attempt to break up a dog fight with your hands. This can result in serious injury. Instead, separate the dogs by using a long object, such as a stick or broom handle.
2) Make Loud Noise
Loud noises can startle the dogs and distract them from the fight. You can make a loud noise by clapping your hands, shouting, or using an air horn.
3) Use a Water Spray
A water spray can be an effective way to break up a dog fight. You can use a hose or spray bottle to spray water directly into the faces of the dogs.
4) Try to Separate the Dogs'
Try to separate the dogs using a long object to create a barrier between them. You can also grab the hind legs of one dog and pull them back to separate them.
5) Seek Professional Help
If the dogs are not responding to your efforts, or if you feel unsafe, seek professional help immediately. Call animal control, the police, professional dog trainers, or behaviorists.
Remember, breaking up a dog fight can be dangerous, and taking precautions to protect yourself and the dogs is essential. Always prioritize your safety and seek professional help if necessary.
An off-leash dog encounter while walking your dog can be an extremely stressful and potentially dangerous situation for the pet owner. Make sure you abide by all the leash laws.
Remember, prevention is the best way to avoid potentially dangerous situations with off-leash dogs. Always be aware of your surroundings and avoid areas where off-leash dogs are known to be a problem.
So, what do you do if an off leash-dog approaches you while you are walking a dog?
Stay calm, keep your distance, and use our tips to protect yourself and your pet. Encountering an off-leash dog can be stressful, but getting out of it is not impossible. Using our tips you can easily get out of the situation and keep your furry friend safe.
Always take care of yourself and your dog after resolving the situation. Take preventative measures to avoid being in a situation like this again.