Pro Tips: How to Deal with an Unfamiliar, Unleashed Dog


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

[Editor’s note: My kids and I were out walking our dog, Pedey, yesterday afternoon and were approached by a dog that we didn’t know. It was interesting to see my kids’ different reactions. My 9-year-old daughter wanted to run right over and pet the strange pooch and introduce him to Pedey, while my more cautious 11-year-old son was worried that it might be dangerous. The dog turned out to be fine, and Pedey behaved, as well. But the interaction reminded me of the excellent column.]

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?

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