It’s important to stay alert and aware of potential dangers when you’re walking your dog. There are likely plenty of choking hazards, squirrels to run after, and bits of glass to step on along the way, so staying vigilant can easily prevent a number of injuries. But what do you do if an off-leash dog approaches you while you are walking a dog? This situation isn’t necessarily one in which careful attention will work, as each situation in which you find yourself will likely be very different. Some dogs may simply want to play, while others can show signs of aggression. No two dogs are alike, and while most off-leash dogs just want to say hello, you’re going to have to assess the situation while it’s happening to determine the best course of action. Here are some tips to keep you and your dog safe.
Just Walk Away
In the majority of cases, simply walking away from the off-leash dog in a calm manner will be enough to keep you and your dog safe. Don’t engage the other dog or approach it. If the dog follows you calmly, it’s likely that it would like to say hello to your own dog. Instead of allowing the interaction, continue walking away to prevent a potential altercation. The dog will likely lose interest and walk away, too if they are not allowed to greet your dog.
Never Reach In
While it’s not common, dogs can sometimes get into fights with off-leash dogs. Your first instinct may be to reach in between to separate them, but try to resist it. Dogs will often bite that hand, and because they’re in fight mode, the bite will likely be severe. Only reach in between dogs who are fighting or biting if there is no other quick way to separate them from the other dog or human involved, and be prepared to call emergency services if necessary in that situation.
Don’t Pick Up Your Dog
It can be tempting to pick your dog up when an unfamiliar dog approaches, particularly if yours is small. If you can do so slowly and carefully, this may be a good solution. However, be sure to not move too quickly. The action can trigger a dog’s prey instincts, much the same way a squirrel running up a tree might do the same thing. If you must pick up your dog, turn your back to the approaching dog to hide the motion and minimize the chances of triggering an aggressive response in the other dog.
Try a Treat
Sometimes it can be helpful to cause a small distraction to get away from an unleashed dog. Throwing a handful of treats on the ground can help you buy some time to walk away. This is not a long-term strategy, as it can teach stray dogs that you are a source of food and make them more likely to follow you, but it can work when you need a quick solution. Keep a small supply of treats on hand just in case you need them.
If a dog begins showing aggressive behaviors, like barking or growling, your presence may be making it nervous. The dog may start backing away or remain still instead of approaching you in this case. If this happens, take the opportunity to move away and out of the dog’s sight in a slow and calm manner. The dog will relax once you’re gone, while moving towards it could provoke an attack and make the situation worse.
In some instances, the only viable solution may be to put a physical barrier between you and the dog, particularly if the off-leash dog is aggressive. Always be aware of your surroundings and identify safe places to move into if the need arises. You may be able to stand behind a gate, fence, car, or even telephone pole for enough time for the dog to lose interest in you and walk away.
Professional Dog Walking Services
Contact Local Paw Pals for more information about how to handle off-leash dogs and to learn about the agency’s pet care services. The professional dog walkers at Local Paw Pals are trained to know how to address off-leash dogs in a safe manner. They will be able to keep your dog safe and avoid a physical altercation thanks to this knowledge. In addition to providing their expertise, Local Paw Pals’ dog walkers can assist you in ensuring that your dog is getting enough exercise even when you’re not around. Whether you’re on vacation or simply working late, Local Paw Pals can take your dog for walks, conduct daily check ins, and even dogsit in your home or in their own, making it easier for you to manage your busy schedule while ensuring that your pet receives the care it needs to thrive.