The outside world, imperfect place that it is, is not exactly brimming with friendly dogs. Quite the contrary, in fact. The likeliest thing that would happen when two dogs meet on the street is that they would get into a fight. And if you’re interested in keeping your dog safe, that’s the last thing you want to happen. Here’s what you have to do to prevent that.
Have basic protective gear ready
Before heading out, it would be best to put together a basic protective kit in order to fend off a hostile unleashed dog. No matter the leash laws in your area, there is always the likelihood of encountering a loose dog that is none too friendly.
The first thing you should pack is thick, long socks, baggy pants, or anything you can scrounge up that can protect your lower extremities, as these are often the first body parts that an attacking dog will go for.
You may also have luck distracting the attacking dog with treats. This won’t be as effective against a truly aggressive dog who’s intent on attacking, but a dog that’s feeling more bored than territorial might lose interest once you drop a tasty-looking treat at its feet. Many dog owners find that frozen-dried meat treats are most effective for this. You may need to throw a handful of the treats in order to distract the aggressor long enough to slip away.
Lastly, although it teeters on animal abuse, you may want to pack a tool of some sort that you can use to discourage a dog from approaching.
This can easily backfire, however, since waving something like an expandable baton or a break stick at a dog’s face might make it more defensive. If the dog reacts defensively, it could try to fend you off by doubling down on its aggressive behaviors. It might be better to get a spray, an air horn, or an ultrasonic dog deterrent. Spraying citronella spray is widely regarded as one of the most effective ways to repel animals since a lot of animals greatly dislike the smell of it, especially dogs. All dog owners would benefit from learning how to train an aggressive dog.
However, certain objects like umbrellas can be great for providing mobile cover to keep an unfriendly dog at bay while you try to get away.
Stay calm and observant
The first thing you should do when an approaching dog is barking or showing aggressive body language is to stay calm. Panicking or otherwise showing fear will encourage the other dog’s predator instinct. Not to mention that your own dog will reflect your mood. If you’re obviously scared, your dog will get scared too, and this can cause the situation to get out of hand really fast.
Always keep an eye out because the sooner you spot an approaching dog, the sooner you can read its body language, and prepare for when it appears hostile and decides to confront you. Remain calm and keep a firm grip on your dog’s leash when the other dog approaches. Once you see any other dogs in the vicinity, start looking for an easy escape route and any physical barrier that can be used to hamper a charging dog’s momentum.
Sometimes, confrontations with a dog off leash happen in designated off leash areas. In this case, it helps to remain observant so you can easily spot a pet owner and ask if they know the strange dog, or otherwise ask for help if you get into an altercation. Similarly, it would help if you know how to break up a dog fight.
Avoid confrontation with the approaching dog
The primary reason for dogs to start barking or growling at you is because they feel anxious and see you as a threat. It is also one of the reasons why dogs bark at other dogs. Hence your natural next move would be to gradually move off into the opposite direction, without making any sudden moves. Refrain from making eye contact with the off leash dog so as to not provoke it. Your dog may decide to bark back or even charge as the unfamiliar dog approaches, so maintain the firm grip on your dog’s leash to discourage them from doing so. The best bark collars may help in such instances. Dogs who lack leash training are particularly prone to just rush anything they perceive as a threat.
Attempt to break contact
More often than not, a dog’s intentions don’t stop at seeing you off. Sometimes they are really bent on chasing you down, especially if they’re particularly agitated by the presence of your dog.
In this situation, your priority should be to safely break contact. For your dog’s safety, do everything you can to stop the approaching dog, or at least delay its advance. Read the approaching dog’s body language to inform yourself on the best way to do this. If you think the attacking dog isn’t too aggressive, throwing treats might be serve as enough of a distraction. Otherwise, employ more expedient measures to block the dog’s approach. Do your best to not let the other dog engage your own. A dog fight can get very ugly in the blink of an eye, and your dog can sustain some very nasty injuries in the space of that moment.
Whatever you do, do not run, or pick up your dog in order to do so, even if you’re only walking a small dog. Running will only amp up dog aggression. On the other hand, picking your dog up is likely to cause your dog’s prey instincts to kick in, which will only encourage the loose dog to chase harder.
Instead, keeping one hand held firmly on the leash, use whatever you have on hand to fend off the other dog while moving away from the area without running. Ideally, you should go by places where there’s lots of cover so you can lose the stray dog more easily. This is especially useful if you’re dealing with multiple off leash dogs. If you have an umbrella on hand, deploying it should keep approaching dogs at bay as you try to flee. If not, a backpack or some other large item can do in a pinch.
What to do when another dog has bitten onto your dog and won’t let go
When worse comes to worst, a hostile dog might be able to bite onto your dog and refuse to let go . When this happens, you have a few options.
The easiest way would be to enlist the help of another person, preferably the owner, and perform what is called “The Wheelbarrow Method”. This is when you would each hold onto one dog’s back legs and pull up and away in order to separate them.
If there’s no one else around, that’s when a break stick would come in. Insert this as far back into the biting dog’s throat as you can and twist to release their grip. If no break stick is available, make sure you have a similar object on hand. If the biting dog has a collar, you can try to pull on that to get them off. If nothing else, you can still try to pull them off by the tail.
Frequently Asked Questions
What do you do if an off-leash dog approaches you while you are walking a dog?
First, check to see if the dog approaching you shows signs of being a friendly dog. Even then, your on-leash dog might not agree, so keep your hand firmly on its leash. The non-leashed dog exhibiting intense body language means that it’s aggressive and is likely to attack.
What to do when an aggressive dog approaches you?
If a dog shows you aggressive behavior, first attempt to walk away slowly. If that doesn’t work, distract the dog’s attention. Throw treats or use a noisemaker to try to fend it off. As a last resort, you can use a self-defense tool like a baton, an umbrella, or some pepper spray to see it off. The whole while, you should be trying to get away from the area without making any sudden movements or running.
How do you protect yourself from dogs while walking your dog?
Your first line of defense would be not going to areas where there are dogs off their leashes in the first place. To be safe, you should pack a self-defense kit to fend off hostile dogs, wear protective clothing, and know how to break contact with an aggressive dog without provoking its predator instinct.