6 Tips for Dealing with an Unleashed Dog

Written by: Phil Monahan

When your dog is leashed, the approach of an unleashed dog can be unsettling.
Photo by Phil Monahan

When your dog is on a leash and under control—say, during a daily walk—and an off-leash dog comes running up, this can create real problems. The leashed dog may become upset or aggravated, and the situation can turn dangerous for both the dogs and the human involved. An article on pawnation.com offers 6 useful tips for dealing with this situation, ranging from the simple (simply saying “sit” to the approaching dog) to the last-resort (tossing your dog to safety over a fence):

2. If that doesn’t work, try to startle the loose dog

Step in between your dog and the oncoming dog and use a body block. Square your shoulders and hips, and hold your hand out like a cop stopping traffic while saying “no,” “stop,” or “stay” in a firm, low voice. Alternatively, you could carry an umbrella and open it in the direction of the rushing dog, which will both startle him and provide a physical and visual barrier. One of my clients painted large eyes on her umbrella, which would pop open explosively at the push of a button. This so startled an aggressive Puggle in her neighborhood that he never again went after her dog.

Click here to see all 6 tips.

Do you agree with these strategies? Do you have other tactics that you use?

11 thoughts on “6 Tips for Dealing with an Unleashed Dog

  1. Lmr

    Why are you assuming an unleashed dog will be aggressive ?
    My dogs know how to open the doors to our house and will on occasion
    Bolt if there is an opportunity. I think most dog owners/people overreact
    When they see an unleashed dog when in fact, if they are “educated” dog owners they can recognize the difference and help that dog get back to where it belongs.
    Unleashed is a minimal variable to a dog running free.

  2. Deb

    Lmr, why are you assuming the dog on the leash is friendly?

    My dog can be very reactive to unleashed dogs approaching him. Yes, the loose dog may be friendly…but if he/she comes running up to greet the leashed dog (who may be reactive), it could still turn into a dangerous situation.

  3. Jim

    Of course, there’s someone who defends the practice of dogs running loose. Unless you’re in a rare city that doesn’t…in most cities it’s THE LAW to make sure they’re leashed in public! Don’t put it on US to know how to handle your charging dog, but fix your da*n door so that your pooch can’t get out.

    I’m tired of irresponsible people defending their irresponsible behavior.

  4. Brian

    Here’s a twist. My dog has become villainized due to the fact of having her leashed. She is an English Mastiff and, at 140 lbs, is quite intimidating. I walk her in a neighborhood of unleashed dogs, one of which charged her and received a bite on the face. And now she and I are the bad people. She is the sweetest dog to people, allowing the my kids and the neighborhood children to push her, pull her ears, poke her face, etc. She does nothing in return but give big sloppy kisses. But now she is vicious. Ironic, ain’t it?

  5. Crystal

    You know I’m a dog lover but recently I’ve felt quite angry and sad to say violent about this situation. I recently, three days ago got a Old English bulldog puppy Georgia. She’s 5 months. I have been taking her out for walks to get her used to going out not only to do her business but walking on the leash. Yesterday I was walking her and I came around a corner there stood a big old dog. Georgia didn’t see it but I did. I thought oh shit and quickly turned to go the other direction and it charged us. This maybe surprising to you, may even disagree but I pulled my knife and shouted back. I just paid 1000 for this pup and I love her to death she’s a great dog and I’ll be dammed if some mangy stray is going to attack her. I wI’ll become Jack the ripper first I’m sorry. I am sick of people being irresponsible and as a result someone’s pet is either injured badly or injured fatally. If you cared about your pet you would have him on a leash.

  6. dogpeeps1

    Our dogs are always leashed. And we have been attacked many many times by unleashed dogs because of their idiot owners who think they are special and don’t have to follow leash laws. I do not debate this subject anymore. TO ALL YOU UNLEASHED DOG OWNERS OUT THERE: BEWARE! We now walk with stun batons and we’re not afraid to use them if we are ever attacked by your unleashed dogs again!! And just in case you think you’re going to blame us and accuse our leashed dogs as the aggressors, we wear body worn cams. Dog walking has become too dangerous because of idiot people who refuse to leash their dogs!!

    1. Ania

      Sad but so true :/ my dog and i were attacked by an unleashed dog while mine was on leash. My pooch was scared to death and screaming in total submission, poor thing. But the other one was lacking of basic education, didn’t answer my dogs pretty explicit signs and I was bitten in the process. Almost twenty stitches. I got lucky the biter didn’t get to my tendons, though, they were SO close, I could have lost my leg. :/ thankfully, my boy didn’t get hurt and it didn’t really impact his lovely nature, he’s still an adorable pooch, loving to meet new friends. But man, I cannot walk my dog serenely anymore. I’m always carrying a pepper spray and see, one year later, I’m still going from one website to another, looking for new info on how to prevent dog bites coming from unleashed dogs. Thanks irresponsible owners.

  7. Anya Clancy

    Yes to all these comments except Lmr’s! I’ve had unleashed dogs run up to my leashed greyhound several times, and the owners inevitably say “it’s ok, he’s friendly.” However, due to an early encounter with an aggressive Doberman, my dog does not like other dogs, and if they’re not leashed, that goes double. She will bark, growl, and lunge. She hasn’t bitten one yet, but under the right circumstances, I imagine it could happen. So I don’t care whether your dog is friendly or not – keep it in a leash!


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