As the warmer weather approaches more people are outside enjoying long walks with their dogs & cats. Many of you have heard me say time and time again preparation & practice are the main key for success & safety in ALL situations. This article is by no means here to make you paranoid but to get you prepared. The following is an all too familiar scenario where many loving pet parents are caught off guard and I do not want this to happen to any of you.
No one ever thinks or wants this to happen to them… but sigh… not every dog owner is responsible or courteous so it’s best to be prepared just in case.
Let’s say you out for a nice walk with Fido . Picture it, the fresh smell of grass in the air, birds chirping, Fido happily walking & sniffing his surroundings… when all of the sudden you spot a big, ferocious dog charging you and your dog off leash at full gallop and his owner is nowhere in sight…. What do you do?
It’s the scenario most dog owners fear the most. Thank God most dog owners are responsible ones but it’s best to be prepared ahead of time so you’re not caught off guard and more importantly neither is your dog. The goal here is to keep everybody safe.
An encounter with an off-leash dog can come about in a variety of ways and happen very, very, quickly. For example a dog dashes out of an open front door unexpectedly, or escapes from an otherwise-secure yard, or worse an off-leash dog darts away from a pet owner who thinks they have their dog under control because… Hey they walk off leash with him all the time & he ALWAYS behaves. The truth here is the off-leash dog may not always act as friendly as his owner expects. Especially if the off the leash dog is large and the dog you’re walking is small. A lot off larger breed dogs hive a high prey drive… which translates into anything moving smaller than they are can result in aggression.
If you are walking your dog and an altercation starts, the owner is frequently too far away from the fast-moving canine to intervene& stop it. And believe it or not it’s not necessarily the off-leash dog who is the aggressor in this situation, the on-leash dog may react defensively, or even aggressively, even if the off-leash dog is friendly. Leash laws are in place to protect dogs and people, and off-leash freedom should be exercised only with reliable dogs in DESIGNATED and PROTECTED areas period.
With that being said, most off-leash dog encounters will end well, a fight is unlikely to ensue and no damage will be done, although a dog’s anxiety about approaching dogs may increase after an incident as well as your own.
How to be PREPARED in case this happens to you
1. Have a fanny pack prepared for your walks. Come on people this really isn’t hat big of a deal & it’s works fabulously. Include in your fanny pack poop bags, Pepper spray (yes I said Pepper spray) or vinegar spray in a small bottle (have a clean small spray bottle with 3 parts vinegar 1 part water shake contents well) Have a few of your dogs favorite snacks and a police whistle with a string so you can wear it around your neck. Last but not leash have a sturdy, short leash to walk your dog… NO RETRACTABLE LEASHES please, they suck in situations like these (I personally really don’t like them).
Have a designated place for this bag next to the front door and when you come back from your walk restock it immediately for the next walk.
2. Never walk your dog distracted, whether that’s on your phone or otherwise. Always know what’s going on around you. You’d be surprised how many unwanted things can be avoided by just paying attention.
3. If a dog fight does occur, NEVER, ever get in the middle of a dogfight or attack. Stepping or reaching between two overstimulated dogs can result in a serious bite. Instead, it is important to have the tools to prevent or break up an altercation without injury to yourself or your dog. Keep reading I’m going to show you what to do.
4. When an off-leash dog approaches your canine, odds are his interest is mainly in your dog, not you. If you can keep your dog calm, it increases the chance that the oncoming dog will also behave calmly. If your dog is barking, snarling or lunging, it is more likely that this behavior will increase the arousal level of the approaching dog, which also raises the likelihood of a fight.
5. If you do see an off-leash dog approaching in a determined manner, STAY CALM and attempt to move your dog away. Hold a handful of treats in front of your dog’s nose; use the treats to keep his attention focused on you, rather than on the other dog. In this situation, you may be rewarding your dog every couple of steps. Move away from the other dog as quickly as possible, but AVOID running or jogging, as this may cause the other dog to chase you. Cross the street, step behind a parked car or find any other method of creating distance or getting behind a barrier.
6. If the other dog continues following you, or if there is not enough time to react and move away, control your dog’s movements and get ready to respond to the other dog. Keep your pet as still as possible; direct him into a stationary, calm position, like a sit or down stay, at your side or just behind you. Practice The STAY command training at home to prepare your dog & yourself for situations like this. By practicing at home often with your dog he will be prepared to listen to you in stressful situations. Remember to reward your dog for practicing the STAY command when at home.
7. If you are dealing with an off-leash aggressive dog and have followed #6 above then the next step for you to do is to step in front of your dog and put yourself between him and the approaching off-leash dog. Using a loud, powerful voice, or your whistle around your neck. Blow it hard once and then LOUDLY say in a loud, deep, ALPHA voice looking sternly SIT! STAY! or GO! Put your hand out in a “STOP” signal to further your message. The dog may not do as you ask, but the real goal is to take his focus off of your dog and put it on you. If he stops even for a moment, distract him by tossing a handful of treats on the ground in front of him. Make sure you have a firm grip on your dogs leash. If possible, make your escape with your dog while the other dog is focused on the treats, remember do not run.
8. Last but not least if the aggressive off-leash dog is still focused on you and your dog spray your Pepper spray or vinegar spray directly into the dogs face. Aim for the nose or eyes if possible. Then move swiftly away to safety with your dog.
Listen no one wants to hurt or injure another animal intentionally, but in these situations you must remember you have only seconds to react. Read this, share and most of all practice it because it works. Being prepared not only keeps you and your dog safe it, it gives you peace of mind & keeps others safe as well, until next time…
REMEMBER PETS RULE!