“It’s okay! He’s friendly!” 5 Tips To Handle An Off Leash Dog
Updated: Jan 27
Walking your dog should be fun, relaxing, peaceful and safe, right? So why does there seem to be an epidemic of stories, and we all hear them guys, of unsuspecting people having to fend off loose dog’s? It’s a real problem for everyone, everywhere. Dog’s love to be off leash and trust me when I say Manzo is at his happiest when he is running free in the woods throwing caution (and personal boundaries) to the wind.
Here is the thing though, if your dog doesn’t come when you call them 100% of the time they should not be off leash in a public place. Period.
I know this is hard for a lot of people to hear because like I said, dogs love being off leash. When taking your dog out into the world you need to keep more than just their happiness in mind. You need to keep them safe and those around them safe as well. Your dog is a walking liability! They could jump on someone who’s afraid of dog’s and make their fears much worse. They could exuberantly run up to say hello to someone and knock them over. They could simply rush in to say hello to another dog and scare the daylights out of them even though, your dog is just trying to be “friendly.”
Long story short. Obey leash laws, when in doubt leash your dog, and above all else, train a reliable recall!
Now that we’ve got through my PSA about leashing your dogs, what I really want to speak on is how you, owner of a leashed dog, can keep your dog safe from an off leash one. In rare circumstances, this event can be totally fine. The off leash dog approaches the dog that is leashed, they say hello, all goes well and Louise is sitting there with her jaw on the ground going, “did that just happen?!”
Seriously though, this often goes very poorly. And we could talk for days about how to host an appropriate dog intro but that is for another newsletter. The main goal, often times, is to keep the off leash dog far enough away from the leashed dog that chaos doesn’t ensue. Here are a few tips, starting with the most kind way, to stop a dog in their tracks.
First and foremost. Yell loudly and very sternly to the owner, “Please leash your dog immediately.” If the person asks why, or says that often heard phrase that makes every person's heart sink, “It’s okay. He’s friendly!” Repeat this louder and with more urgency, “Please leash your dog immediately!” Leash first. Explain later.
Sometimes, there is no owner in sight and calling to them does no good. Reach into your treat pouch (make sure you always have a treat pouch with yummy snacks, always!) grab a handful of your highest value treats and throw them directly at the oncoming dog. Sometimes this is tempting enough to stop the dog in their tracks and you can slowly retreat to safety.
Using your stern momma bear (or daddy bear!) voice yell to the dog, “No!” or “Go Home!” sometimes “Sit Stay!” works. The goal is to startle them so they will retreat either back to their property or their owner.
Carry a carabiner with you and a small slip lead. If you see an off leash dog approaching and there is no owner, you can attach your dog’s leash to a nearby tree. With the carabiner on the handle of your leash, loop it around the tree and clip it back to the main section of leash. Use your slip lead to catch the off leash dog and return them to their owner or call Animal Control. The down side to this is, sometimes that other dog might not be safe for you to approach and, if you can, you are now stuck with a strange dog. Still, better than a dog fight and a trip to the vet.
When all else fails, and you need to keep yourself and your dog safe, using a product called SprayShield can do the trick. This is a small canister that fits on a belt clip or in your pocket. Similar to pepper spray but much more humane. This product is citronella based and can reach up to 10ft.
While we all hope to completely avoid these types of scenarios, it is still good to be prepared. Practice any of these techniques when you do not need them! Clipping your dog to a tree with a carabiner, or teaching your dog to sit stay next to you while you yell loudly, and teaching your dog to turn with you and retreat are great techniques to practice so that when you need them, both you and your dog will know exactly what to do!
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