Most, if not all of us, would probably agree that one of the least pleasant experiences we could come across as dog owners is being approached by a loose dog, especially when our very own pooch is on a leash. Spotting an unaccompanied dog rounding the corner and heading our way is alarming as the encounter an turn into a bad scene especially if our four–legged best friend is fearful or highly reactive to other dogs. Besides, even if we know that our dog is confident and well-socialized, the approaching dog may not be and this is just as equally distressing. While every situation can vary, being able to perform an on-the-spot risk assessment and having a mental list of possible strategies can help boost our confidence to come up with sound decisions within those split seconds.
5 Tactics Used in Dealing with Loose Dogs While on Walks
- Carry treats. While you can generally predict and manage your own dog’s behavior (be it on or off-leash), the situation can still be dangerous since the strange dog is completely out of your control. If you see that the other dog is rushing towards you and Fido, you can use the emergency sit-stay command to keep your pooch behind as you step forward and throw a handful of treats to the charging dog’s face. Through this distraction, you buy yourselves some time to slide away.
- Bring a slip head. If you don’t have dog treats with you, hopefully a slip head would be handy so you can loop it around the rushing dog’s neck. While trying to leash a strange dog is not always appropriate for every loose-dog scenario (especially if the other dog shows aggression towards you and your dog), it can be considered as an option so you can put the charging dog securely on-leash until his owner arrives.
- Be aware of your own reaction. All of us respond differently in this kind of encounter. If you tend to freeze then good for you. You definitely would never want to scream, run away, or physically confront the strange dog when this happens. The calmer you and your dogs can stay, the easier it would be for you to diffuse the loose dog. Also, as much as possible, keep the strange dog focused on you, instead of your four-legged friend. Use your voice or those treats to get and keep his attention. Keep your body language relaxed and fluid, not stiff, and avoid staring directly at the other dog.
- Get the Plan B ready. If you find yourself in a terrifying situation of being attacked, you have to be prepared. If possible, take with you a physical deterrent like a spray product or a jacket to cover the attacking dog’s eyes. These are your last resort options and ought to be used only when the rushing dog has crossed that threshold.
While it’s rare to actually run into a truly aggressive loose dog, keep in mind that they do happen. If your small furball is rushed by this strange dog, you may be able to pick him up instead and toss him somewhere safer like inside a fenced yard, on the roof of a car, or in the bed of a truck. If the off-leash hostile dog redirects his aggression on you, ensure that you are able to protect your head and neck. While no single strategy will always work in every case, just remember that the more tools you have in your toolbox, the higher your chances of protecting yourself and Fido will be.