What should I do when an off-leash dog charges me?



Off-leash dogs

People have asked me what I do when an off-leash dog charges my dog and I while we’re running. Runners have to be especially aware of dogs, since a lot of dogs chase anything that moves.

I run with a large variety of dogs every day through my dog running business. These dogs have various energy levels and very different reactions towards approaching dogs.

Still, my reaction to approaching off-leash dogs is always the same.

The following is my own “expert” advice as someone who runs with dogs every day and has to deal with approaching off-leash dogs fairly often.

Here is what I do when I see an off-leash dog approaching:

First of all, I do all I can to prevent confrontations. I keep the dog I am running under control at all times, in a formal heel position at my left side.

I am aware of my surroundings at all times, always subconsciously scanning yards for approaching dogs or people. I am always listening for people or dogs coming up behind us. I don’t run with headphones.

If I see a dog that might approach us, I slow to a walk or do a quick but relaxed “U-turn” or move to the other side of the street. If the other dog slowly follows us with a relaxed posture or barks but seems insecure, I just ignore the dog and slowly move away. I return to a run once we are about 10 yards away.

If the dog is already charging or if he charges even as we move away, that’s when I turn to face the dog, making sure to use my body to block my own dog. I look the approaching dog right in the eyes with a very dominant, upright posture. I point at him, take a step towards him and firmly say, “NO!” All of this has to happen within about two seconds, but it’s always enough to surprise the dog for a moment and instantly break the tension or excitement. It’s a mind game.

I don’t feel comfortable telling everyone to confront an approaching dog in this way. Most people do not have control of their own dogs, let alone the ability to read the energy of an approaching dog. But I also know many of the people who read this blog are a lot like me and are totally capable of confronting a dog.

What about tossing a handful of treats at the approaching dog?

You may be thinking it would be better to use a positive reinforcement technique. You may want to toss a handful of treats at the approaching dog to distract him. If that works for you, great. It doesn’t work for me.

First of all, I don’t bother to carry treats while I run. Second, if I were to fumble through my pocket to grab a handful of treats, I would lose control of the dog I am walking and the approaching dog would get to us before I had a chance to toss the treats. And finally, most approaching dogs are excited about seeing another dog. They don’t give a damn about pieces of jerky.

What about spraying the approaching dog with pepper spray?

I’m not opposed to running with pepper spray or using it on an approaching dog. I just choose not to bother. I’ve never been in any real danger. I have never been attacked by a dog while running.

If carrying pepper spray would make you feel more comfortable, do it. And don’t be afraid to use it, either. A nice spray to the face will teach the dog a thing or two about charging people! And if the owner gets upset, well, too bad. Maybe she shouldn’t have let her dog act like a maniac.

From my experience, though, simply moving away and avoiding confrontations is the best approach. Show that you are not a threat and that you are not interested. If the dog still doesn’t get the memo, then it usually works to turn and address him.

What about those truly annoying owners?

“Don’t worry! He’s friendly!”

Well, f#@k you. I’m trying to run here. Your lab might be “friendly,” but his tail is straight up and he’s staring right at my dog!

Of course, I don’t actually say that.

Sometimes both dogs truly are friendly and the easiest thing to do is just sigh, let them acknowledge each other, do the sniffing dance for a minute and move on.

What if my dog is aggressive?

Sometimes I am running a dog that is truly reactive to other dogs. Those of you who own leash-reactive dogs know very well how frustrating it is when other people allow their “friendly” dogs to charge your not-so friendly dog.

If the dog I am walking is even the slightest bit reactive to other dogs and some idiot allows his dog to charge us, I always make sure to yell out, “My dog is aggressive!”

Usually that takes the smile off the other owner’s face as he comes running over to collect his dog.

Sometimes your dog might go into a complete tizzy, spinning and snarling. It happens. The approaching dog may have caused the reaction, but your dog is now the one truly out of control. When this happens, the best thing to do is just get control of your own dog and completely ignore the other dog. Then move away as quickly and calmly as you can.

What if there is a dog fight?

What if the dog seriously begins to attack your dog? Fortunately I have never had this happen. If this did happen to me, I know I would make sure not to get my hands in the middle of it. But I would probably try to use my body to block the two dogs from each other. I would also most likely kick the attacking dog in the face, hard.

But one thing to remember is that most of the time dog confrontations sound a lot worse than they really are. It’s best not to freak out and add more fuel to the fire. It’s also best to keep the leash as loose as possible in order to decrease the tension. Often, it’s actually the owner who causes the dog fight by tightening the leash at the wrong time.

Even if there is a lot of snarling or lunging or yelping, chances are there won’t be actual bites. Even if there is a bite, don’t panic. If your dog is up to date on vaccinations, there is not much to worry about.

You may want to make note of where the off-leash dog lives or at least where you are and contact animal control. I keep the local police departments in my phone for that reason. If the dog appears to be lost or ownerless, you may also want to report it for the safety of others.

Details about how to keep your dog under control in “heel position”

No matter what dog I am running with, I keep the dog under control, at my left side in a formal heel position at all times. I do this even if the dog’s owner normally allows him to run ahead, and even if he has basically no leash manners.

To keep any dog at my left side on a loose leash, I hold the leash close to his collar in my left hand, and I hold the slack in my right hand. The “loop” part of the leash is held with my right hand. I maintain just enough slack on my left side so the leash is not tight.

Some dogs have very good leash manners. Some wear head collars that prevent them from pulling. For the dogs that pull, all I do is keep their collars high on their necks, right under their chins and behind their ears. It doesn’t really matter if they are wearing a flat collar, a martingale, a choke or a prong. It doesn’t matter if the dog has had no basic obedience training. If you keep the collar high on the neck you should be able to keep the dog under control. You will probably have to stop every few minutes to adjust the collar, though.

Whenever the dog sneaks ahead, I give a slight correction by pulling up. I pull up or to the side, not back. If you pull back, not only does it move the collar to the stronger, thicker part of the dog’s neck, but it causes the dog to resist the tension and pull harder.

Always stay relaxed and prevent tension in the leash. The leash should be so free of tension that you could literally hold the leash with two fingers in each hand and the dog wouldn’t break away. Ideally, you could drop the leash and the dog wouldn’t notice or go anywhere.

What tips do you have for dealing with an approaching off-leash dog?

Working with your own dog to achieve a reliable sit-stay no matter what can also go a long way!

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  1. Carrie on February 9, 2012

    Thanks for this blog. This information is great. I am dealing with this more and more. Great tips, thank you.

  2. Christina on February 9, 2012

    Thanks for this! As you know, I had an incident the other day that I did manage to diffuse, but wasn’t sure how to act in general.

    Also, thanks for the tip about keeping the heel. That’s what we do with Tarski right now, but sometimes I’ve wondered if we’re “cheating”, because he doesn’t do it naturally, on his own. He knows that “heel” means to return to my left side, in a heel position, but only if he’s tired or worried or just in a really mellow mood does he actually stay there with no effort whatsoever from me for any real length of time. It’s a work in progress…

    Incidentally, I’m pretty lucky that when other dogs approach, Tarski totally defers to me, which means I only ever have to worry about the other dog, and not my own. (Did I mention that after that dog came at us the other day, Tarski did the rest of the walk in a perfect — I mean *perfect* — totally slack-leash heel?! I guess once I “protected” him, he relinquished his self-appointed scouting duties… hehe)

    • Lindsay Stordahl Author on February 9, 2012

      Wow, that’s great that he looks to you as his protector. Also great that he doesn’t react much to other dogs. Many, many dog owners would be jealous!

  3. Alphild Dick on February 9, 2012

    Very good advice. As a dog walker in Kansas, I had the (mis)fortune of being ambushed by hostile strays several months ago. It was a pretty unpleasant situation, but thankfully we were close to my car and the dog I was walking was relatively cooperative in letting me shield her (as opposed to engaging in reactive behavior and making the situation worse). I’ve often been told to carry a stick, but I’m hard-pressed to think of a situation in which that would NOT be cumbersome and annoying. Treats, I always have but I agree that a little snack bite isn’t going to be nearly as exciting as a dog. Like you point out, being aware of your surroundings and ready to calmly, but authoritatively, respond are the most effective strategies for avoiding problems. I would add that I advise people to not turn their backs on an aggressing dog so that their prey drive isn’t set off even more.

    A MAJOR pet peeve of mine is an owner that has a dog off-leash that they can’t control. Even at the trails that I use, where it is allowed, I find it irresponsible for owners to not leash their dogs if they can’t call their dogs back. I often hike with clients’ dogs on leash because they don’t have reliable recalls, and it puts them at a real disadvantage when they are overwhelmed by overexcited dogs whose owners are, in the distance, trying in vain to call them back. I’ve had otherwise placid, easygoing dogs get snappish while on a leash because some dog charged up at them. I completely understand the desire to let your dog run off-leash, but it needs to be done with caution and respect for other dogs and other owners (or dog walkers) on the trails.

    • Lindsay Stordahl Author on February 10, 2012

      It’s a pet peeve of mine as well when dogs are off leash and their owners can’t control them. I allow my dog off leash only when I know I’ll be able to control him.

  4. Shane on February 10, 2012

    Lindsay,

    As you know I adopted Bert. And you have seen that he had issues with other dogs and was quite a handfull. He has since been very good. I have been working with him alot. But your advice on keeping your dog under control is very important!

    We were at the vet just the other day. We were in the waiting room with other dogs and a cat. Bert was fine. Just sitting there wagging his tail and everyone was really impressed with him. (The Vet and everyone that work there love him) Any way when we were leaving we walked out of the back room and Bert was walking along when one of the new dogs that hadn’t been there before we went in lunged, growled and barked at Bert. Well needless to say Bert snapped. A hundred pound pitbull that snaps is a handfull. The owner of the other dog did have his dog under control quickly though and I blocked Berts view of the dog with my body and had to pull him down to get him to calm down. Once calmed down I walked him out. Dr. Tressler followed me and when we were outside she got down and hugged Bert telling him that wasn’t very good behavior for the pitbull community and then laughed stating that it was the other dog that started it etc. A couple of the people in there ran out with their dogs right away taking them out of the equation. That is a smart move too. I don’t know if they did it to be smart or if they just got scared, but either way it was good.

    Things happen in a moments notice and you have to be ready at all times. This is a prime example of where you shouldn’t have a dog that you can’t control. It could have gotten ugly real fast.

    • Lindsay Stordahl Author on February 10, 2012

      That’s a good story. I’m so glad you adopted Bert. He is a powerful dog, and I’m glad he is in good hands. I’m also glad you pointed out that it was a good thing that other people removed their dogs from the situation at the vet. Nice to hear that Bert’s vet is so understanding, too!

  5. Jen S on February 10, 2012

    Awesome post! As I shared on Facebook, I’m about to start running with my dog and this couldn’t have come at a better time!

    Also, I’d like to echo the “no headphones!” advice. Too many people run with headphones and are oblivious to the world around them. While I think some good music makes the time move faster, safety is always #1 no mater what.

    The simple advice of pulling up or to the side and not back is something that was an AH-HA for me! I have only taken training classes which are horribly opposed to a pronged collar, and my dog works better with the prong collar on. Unfortunately, it does slide down easily so I’ll try this adjustment on our next walk and run!

    As far as leashes go, what do you think of those leashes that attach at a belt type thing around your waist? I see possible issues… ie, dog approaching and unable to give slack when needed, possible lack of control,… the list goes on. Have you tried one? Thought I’d ask!

    • Lindsay Stordahl Author on February 10, 2012

      Hey Jen! Although I’m sure some people love those leashes that attach to your waist, I won’t use one because I like to have more control over my dog. I like to be able to give corrections. I have tied Ace’s leash around my waist a few times, but it’s just not for me. I prefer to hold the leash. Sometimes I have him off leash, but that is when we are either specifically working on off-leash training or if we are in a safe area where I know I can keep him under control. I guess those waist leashes are fine for people who just want to focus on running and don’t care what their dogs do. Running with a dog can screw up your running form a bit. I just don’t care about that. Those leashes might also might be great for people who have their dogs trained well to remain in a heel position and have no need to correct the dog.

      • Jen S on February 11, 2012

        Ok, you echoed the same thoughts and concerns I was thinking about with those leashes. I’ll save my money. :)

        My other thought… even if the dog is perfect at heel at any speed, will they ignore a dog charging at you? And can you give slack fast enough to prevent injury to yourself or your dog… ?
        … I couldn’t!

        As always, THANKS!

        • Lindsay Stordahl Author on February 12, 2012

          Just depends on the dog I guess. Not something I want to try.

  6. Carmen on February 10, 2012

    Great topic Lindsay! After Callie got attacked by my neighbor’s three (!) unleashed dogs as a puppy (she was on leash, and we were on a public sidewalk), I made a point to get educated about what to do when faced with a charging dog because I had felt so helpless then.
    It’s amazing how often we are greeted by unleashed dogs in public spaces. It’s one thing when the owner is a few feet away and they are in their own yard – it’s quite another to think it’s okay to let your dog wander the neighborhood unsupervised. Even if your dog is friendly, it doesn’t mean he won’t approach a dog that isn’t. There’s a reason why there are leash laws.
    I make a point to give space between us and an unleashed dog (like you said – cross the street, make a calm U-turn, etc.). If that doesn’t work and the dog is still following us, I stop and put myself between the charging dog and Callie and shout “Go home!.” The chances that the dog actually understands that command are minimal, but I figure if the owner is within earshot it should at least click with them that “hey, maybe that crazy lady is shouting at *my* dog.” At least it makes me feel better – ha!
    Putting yourself between the two dogs definitely deflates the situation – most dogs will not cross a human gate to get to another dog. I also figure that if somebody is going to get bit, I would honestly rather have it be me than Callie. It’s more black and white if the cops were to ever get called then (nobody can argue that the dog was just “defending” itself then). Luckily I’ve never had it come to that yet.

    • Lindsay Stordahl Author on February 10, 2012

      Sounds like we handle these situations in the same way. I’m glad to hear you agree and that these suggestions also work for you.

  7. Leah on February 10, 2012

    Great article! I had a bad situation once while walking my shi tzu, Cody, when I was about 14. We had neighbors with really mean chows and they attacked while I was walking him. Obviously, 2 large snarling Chows make short work of a shi tzu, and since there was no way for me to safely walk into the fray, I pulled Cody straight up into the air by his leash and into my arms. Thankfully, he had only minor injuries- if I hadn’t gotten him away faster, it could have been deadly. Those same Chows once held me captive on the couch for four hours while I was babysitting the owner’s daughters- any move toward a phone or getting off the couch and they poised for attack. They are the only dogs I have veer been afraid of in my entire life, and I am still unfairly biased against the breed even 16 years later.

    • Lindsay Stordahl Author on February 11, 2012

      Yikes. Those Chows should never have had the opportunity to go after your dog. And they should’ve been confined when you were babysitting. Yikes! So sorry you had those bad experiences.

  8. Cat on February 10, 2012

    After the furball and I were mauled by a pack of 5 unleashed dogs…I now kick first, ask questions later. There is a leash law covering the entire county (with no “under voice control” provision). I assume anyone negligent enough to break the law and let their dog out without a leash is also too negligent to train, socialize, or vaccinate against rabies. I’m also not against running into the street in the hopes of putting a moving car between myself and the charging dog.

    Extreme? Yes. But having one 70-pound dog hanging off your face, another one hanging off your arm and yet another trying to eat your dog will color your perception.

    @Carmen: I’d love to know where you live that the cops will see it as black and white. After my attack the cops said it was okay because the other owner didn’t say, “sic ‘em” to his dogs. Never mind the fact that dogs can be trained to react violently to “pink unicorns” or, heck, even “sic ‘em” in a language other than English.

    • Lindsay Stordahl Author on February 12, 2012

      Terribly sorry to hear you were attacked.

    • Leah on February 12, 2012

      The chows I mentioned were trained in a different language- so you never really know what the owner was trying to get them to do :-(

  9. Heidi P on February 10, 2012

    The stories I could tell… but I won’t.

    Just amazed, dumbfounded by how many people let their dogs off the leash – dogs that don’t obey their owners. I’ve used pepper spray on 4 different Rottweilers. Thank God that stuff works fast because these dogs meant business. I’ve had to kick dogs off of my dog. Usually I stop, bend down and let loose with a blood-curdling warrior cry right in the other dog’s face and that usually catches them off guard (that old adrenaline makes you do strange things). A few dogs I’ve actually turned the table and chased and yelled at them! See how they like it! Owners probably think I’m a looney.

    My dog has been attacked 4 times (and she’s not even 3 yet) so she’s starting to get defensive when ever she sees a dog – I can’t expect her to remain calm but I do try to keep myself between the two dogs.

    I just fear the day I have to deal with 2 (or more) dogs at the same time. I may have to start gouging eyeballs!

    • Lindsay Stordahl Author on February 12, 2012

      Yikes! Where the heck do you live where so many dogs are coming after you like that?

  10. KC on February 12, 2012

    We had to stop walking walking our dog off-leash because he charged people, especially joggers. The best outcomes were when people remained calm, stopped and stood still. I recommend STANDING COMPLETELY STILL when a dog charges. I would NOT recommend glaring directly into their eyes because at least my dog would read this as an act of aggression.

    An interesting sidelight: Our dog charged at almost everyone — except those who were talking calmly on a cell phone and looking away! Somehow he sensed that their attention was elsewhere and always left them alone.

    • Lindsay Stordahl Author on February 12, 2012

      The eye contact thing really does depend on the dog, and you have to get a good read of the dog’s body language. I understand what you are saying. Making eye contact with the wrong dog at the wrong time could end up with the dog attacking me. Most dogs are not truly aggressive, though. They are more excited and friendly or insecure and trying to scare me away. I avoid eye contact initially and try to act like I don’t care and am not a threat. That’s why I move to the other side of the street or do a U-turn.

  11. KC on February 12, 2012

    Lindsay, you are so right that reading a dog’s body language is the key to a successful encounter. My dog is not aggressive, but he is BIG (a Great Dane) and easily excited/frightened. He never tried to hurt anyone when he charged off-leash, but his idea of “play” is too intimidating and rough for most people. If they stopped moving, he just sniffed them and enjoyed getting petted.

    However, when we are walking him on-leash, he does lunge and bark aggressively if people stare in his eyes.

    I noticed that many people are using this forum to complain about off-leash dogs, so I will explain the other side. Here are some true examples of things NOT to do when you see a dog on (or off) leash:

    1) Do not stand close, stare in the dog’s eyes and shout over and over, “I’m scared! I’m scared!” This behavior makes him scared of you! He may try to defend himself.

    2) Do not squeal in fear and start waving your arms. He thinks you want to play wild games.

    3) Do not walk up quickly right up behind a dog while yelling angrily into your cell phone. The dog thinks you are yelling at us for no reason and may try to defend us.

    4) If the dog owner asks you to keep your children at a safe distance, do not laugh and say, “Oh, I don’t care if he knocks my kids down.”

  12. Nancy's Point on February 12, 2012

    Well, you make it sound so easy, but… Mostly I avoid confrontation with other dogs and my dog who tends to be aggressive when meeting other dogs while leashed. The gentle leader has helped tremendously, however. Without it, such meetings used to be unpleasant to say the least. Now they are at least manageable. Frankly, I think it’s irresponsible to walk your dog off-leash unless you have an exceptionally well-trained dog which is rarely the case.

    • Lindsay Stordahl Author on February 13, 2012

      The Gentle Leader makes a huge difference for a lot of dogs.

  13. Ty Brown on February 14, 2012

    Great post. I love dogs and never want to see a dog hurt or in pain. But when it comes to me, my dogs, and my client’s dogs I’m looking out for us as priorities #1-10. If someone else has the rudeness to allow their dog to charge me then their dog is the one that is going to be in trouble. I’ve had numerous occasions where I’ve had to use some Size 12 Nikes to keep everyone safe. Other dog owners hate it but their dogs were the one’s putting us in danger in the first place.

    • Lindsay Stordahl Author on February 15, 2012

      I hear ya! What advice do you have for dealing with an approaching dog? Do you typically address the dog or just get out of the way?

    • Jen S on February 15, 2012

      Ty – You are my hero. :) My below comment talks a little about my recent event and I’m still a little frustrated as I don’t know what I should do to deal with this. Shoes seem like a good tool for controlling of inbound beast. Do you let friendly dogs say hello to the dogs? I have mixed feelings on it. I’m totally inexperienced as I only walk/run my dog however I do think I read dogs well. Do I let them say hi? Do I tell the owner off? (tell the owner off and let them say hi?) … or threaten a boot and move from there…

  14. Jen S on February 15, 2012

    *AHH* thought I’d post again as my husband and I just dealt with the “annoying owner” situation.

    She had no control over her dog, there is an leash ordinance, and her dog was barreling toward ours. I made my point clear that I didn’t want to have them say hello … probably overreacting but dogs not under control by their owners make me nervous.

    I worry about a few things… our dog will pick up on our frustration with the owner and become leash aggressive, “Gee, whenever a dog approaches, Alpha and Beta get stressed out… perhaps I should get stressed out too!”

    But back to your “Well f!@# you! I’m trying to run!”.. that’s how I felt!

    What do you do with the stupid ones? Do you just let them say hello? Do you say anything to the owner?

    • Lindsay Stordahl Author on February 15, 2012

      I guess it depends on my mood. Sometimes I just sigh and let the dogs greet one another and then get out of there.

      And quite often I yell “No!” at the approaching dog. The dog is usually shocked, as is the owner. “What? But most people reward me when I charge them!” I just think it’s wrong to reward the dog for charging. Even though I like dogs and I really don’t mind all that much if a friendly dog approaches, I still think it’s bad manners.

      If my dog ever bolts from me and runs up to someone, I would prefer they tell him “NO! Bad dog!” rather than reward him for disobeying me.

  15. Linda Hund on March 19, 2012

    Great post. It should definatly help people on how to handle an approaching dog. One thing I would have never thought about: Why would I give treats to an approaching dog? I don’t know anyone who does it and in my understanding treats are a way to honor good behavior. I’ll keep it like you do and act as a human “gate”.

    Again, great post, you won an additional reader for your blog :) – In case you wonder, I am not a native speaker but I try my very best.

    • Lindsay Stordahl Author on March 25, 2012

      Thanks, Linda! I know, throwing treats at an approaching dog has never made sense to me either.

  16. Heidi P on May 21, 2012

    Something else I’ve noticed: I often let my Lab off the leash (in safe areas) because she won’t run off and she comes when called. But other people see us, and think, “oh her dog is off the leash so it must be friendly” so they release their dog and it comes charging up to us. WRONG! Esme isn’t aggressive, but she prefers to be left alone. When they get in her face, she’ll snarl and snap and that usually drives them away. And then the owners get upset at my “aggressive” dog. ??? Sorry, but my dog was just sniffing around minding her own business when your dog races up to her, uninvited.

    I have more trouble with other peoples’ dogs than my own!

    • Lindsay Stordahl Author on May 21, 2012

      Yeah, it’s tough. I guess I would just make sure to call her and put her leash back on when you see other dogs. I try to do that as well, even though my dog won’t react by growling or snapping, I still don’t want him to get overly excited when other dogs run up to us.

  17. Heidi P on May 30, 2012

    Two more dogs, two nights in a row. This is getting ridiculous! The first one (beagle mix) ran across the street as its owner was yelling at it. It didn’t seem to mean any harm but still, Esme doesn’t like these excited dogs charging her. A couple snarls and snaps and it got the idea it was not welcome. Then last night, jogging, approaching another dog walker from behind, we were near a school so I went on the other side of the fence that ran along the sidewalk, past the dog and all of a sudden I hear, “Sam! Sam!! Sam!!!” Her dog had just yanked the leash out of her hand, ran to the end of the fence and around it and came after Esme. And it was a big dog, a good 40lbs heavier than my Lab. Lately, I’ve tried to let the leash loose – I don’t want my negative emotions to travel through a tight leash and besides, I figure Esme’s better at reading dog body language than I am. The woman said her dog wasn’t aggressive but it kept bothering Esme and she kept trying to bolt, although she wasn’t overly defensive like I expected (snapping/growling).

    With my other Lab, she seemed to be more dog savvy than I was and I usually tried to let her decide how to deal with the “intruder”. I don’t think this works with Esme. Usually I would try to block the other dog and keep myself between but they are quick and just run around me. After this incident, perhaps it’s my imagination but Esme seemed disappointed in me, like I’d failed her. Does she see me as her protector?

    I’m not afraid of dogs, but I am afraid of one attacking my dog. Maybe I should take more control of the situation and try to push the other dog away with my foot, kick it if I can, or even grab its collar and pull up so it can’t turn on me.

    And pepper spray is not as easy to use as one might think. You need a good clear shot and a steady hand, and a good aim… and it all happens so fast.

    My husband thinks I should carry a whole arsenal of weapons, but when you’re jogging, it’s enough just to hold on to a leash and attend to the dog. If I was a walker, I’d definitely carry a big stick!

    • shelokay on April 7, 2013

      wow you would kick another dog? disgusting.. dogs chase after you out of excitement and no matter how much you think your wonderful little darling is well trained, they could do the same one day.
      this blog makes me laugh as all the posters are clearly the very ignorant ones who have no clue over breeds and dog behaviour.

      • Aless on October 10, 2013

        After my dog was attacked I don’t fool with any off leash dog. There are dogs that are going to cause your dog grievous harm – particularly if they are small –, I’m not waiting to see which it will be ever again, for my dog.

  18. Cal Orey on June 17, 2012

    Wonderful article. Living in a mountain resort town, I’ve had issues at least 10 times in a decade with off-leash dogs. Often, it’s tourists’ dogs that are a nuisance because they let their canine(s) run free and do not think of the consequences.
    Two days ago, my two on-leash 38 lb. each Brittanys, myself, and brother were attacked by an AWOL owner’s Pit Bull-Lab mix (89-90 lbs). As a devout lover (who has been taken down by two dogs when I was a teenager), I admit this event was frightening. I wasn’t afraid for me–it’s my Britts who aren’t fighters.
    Both my boys allowed me to protect them (the older, dominate dog did not go into defensive mode) and that made it easier. We screamed/shouted at the growling monster (tail up, fur up, teeth showing) who first aimed at my oldest pooch, then was ready to take on my sibling! It all happened so fast but we escaped what could have been a terrible incident.
    Today, I’m going back out there with a new frame of mind. Just when I thought it was “safe” I realize I have to be on guard again. I will not be bullied by an off-leash bully dog (it can be any breed), and I will contact authorities (again), and take control of the situation. Thank you so much for this blog post. Much appreciated.
    Dog lover/author who writes about companion animals

  19. blackrose on October 21, 2012

    You people who say you let your dogs off leash because you know or ONLY if you know you can control them. YOU don’t know what a dog will do, the dog is an ANIMAL and it is their nature to do what they do. I get so tired of careless humans with animals, you shouldn’t be allowed to own dog or anything else. wake up STUPID.

  20. Lynne B on October 23, 2012

    Today while walking my two 11 month poodles we were confronted by two charging snarling staffy’s and a large cross breed, my Millie is very timid of large barking dogs so I got her up fast, luckily the charging dogs were all bark and no bite. But the attitude of the owner was unreal, I told her she shouldn’t just let them loose to charge at people, her reply, “they are alright” I didn’t know that and told her so, her reaction, “we’ll you do now” .
    What can you do, ignorant owners who know it all, 3 dogs not one leash between them.
    I’m not sure how to protect my little ones if seriously attacked by more than one dog, to carry a stick is cumbersome, pepper spray would be handy but illegal in the UK.

    • shelokay on April 7, 2013

      worst thing you have ever done is pick your dog up! this is exactly why your dog is afraid.. this is why as a puppy it is so important to socialise them with other dogs so they learn the ettiquettes of becoming submissive if they are afriad of other dogs.. if your dog shows any unnormal behaviour you should go to a dog trainer. you call others ignorant but sadly it is you i see as ignorant

  21. Lindsay Stordahl Author on October 23, 2012

    There’s really not much you can do other than to seriously try to avoid those situations, which I understand are not preventable at times. I hope some of the ideas in the post and comments have been helpful. Thank you for your comment, and I’m glad your dogs and you ended up OK.

  22. Linda on January 25, 2013

    I’m not a rules person, but leash laws are definitely a must. I walk two big dogs that are well trained and friendly on a leashed trail daily. Unleashed dogs take the fun out of the walk. Doesn’t matter how well trained they are or not, if the owner has recall, if they’re friendly, etc. If you want to interact ask.

    The off leashed dogs will approach and want to meet, see that my dogs are friendly and then it escalates into play. Not fair. They’re leashed and I’m not letting go – the owners think it’s cute. Reverse the role – leash your animal and I’ll let mine drag you around.

    Visibility of unleashed animals escalates the dogs into a play state and passing becomes unknown/dangerous. So an 1.5 hour walk becomes 2.5 hours because people can’t follow the rules. They have no idea someone is slowing down 1/2 mile back because they’re dog is unleashed.

    Unleashed dogs approach young kids walking and use the restroom in yards- classy.

    If you want to go to a dog park or an unleashed trail do that, if you’re in an leashed area get a leash and use it.

  23. shelokay on April 7, 2013

    The problem with dogs and leashes is that alot of dogs will see another leashed dog as a threat. they view leashes as an invasion of their personal space. its perfectly normal for one dog to want to meet and sniff another dog and i dont see the problem.

  24. Aless on October 10, 2013

    That’s because you don’t know what you’re talking about…

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