Tuesday, December 11, 2012

What to do if you're approached by an off-leash dog

My version:

  1. Freeze
  2. Hope the off-leash dog doesn't hurt Badger or vice versa
  3. Wonder if I should be clicking and treating, or whether that would cause the off-leash dog to become aggressive
  4. Breathe a sigh of relief when the owner finally notices and calls his dog away
  5. Upon arriving home, report the situation to L, who calls the apartment complex (the off-leash dog and its owner live in our complex)
  6. Beat myself up for not reacting quickly enough / resolve to do better next time
  7. Feel proud of Badger for handling the situation much better than I did

Badger's version:
  1. Look
  2. Sniff
  3. Play bow
  4. Aw darn, it left before we could play
  5. Accept treats as a consolation
  6. Wonder why human is apologizing to me
  7. Accept belly rubs
Is that a belly rub over there?

What I should have done:

Hopefully the apartment manager will give this guy a talking-to for breaking the leash law, and we won't meet off-leash dogs anymore. (Wishful thinking!) I also realize how lucky I am to have been walking Badger instead of Mushroom. Next time, if I'm not frozen in shock, I'm going to try throwing treats at the dog and retreating.

Has your dog ever surprised you by handling a situation much better than you did?


  1. Thanks so much for posting this excellent information. I am always afraid of something like that happening, and I try to always carry citronella spray with me when walking Z (though I've been known to forget it). We haven't (thankfully) had any issues with off-leash dogs -- though we've struggled with ON-leash dogs whose owners are simply not paying attention to them or using a retractable leash. A few months ago, Z and I were walking and this guy with a large dog were walking past us. He had his dog on a long leash and I didn't like how the dog's body language looked, so I tried to body-block Zoe, but the dog somehow still got through and smashed Z and me up against a fence. Z yelped, which got the owners attention and he pulled his dog away. Fortunately, no one was hurt. I was pissed and told the guy to keep his dog on a shorter leash! After that, if I have any doubts, I just cross the street.

  2. Rufus and I had this exact samee situation happen last night...in the dark! We were walking in a neighborhood and a dog rushed us, growling. Even though Rufus is a total growler, he DOES NOT growl when another dog starts first (thank God!)...I'm sure he just gets so nervous that he is afraid what might happen. The dog was stiff and growling, and even growled at me. When they were sniffing, I kept repeating "Good dogs" over and over, haha. Then we walked away calmly. It was actually kind of terrifying becuase I couldn't get a sense of the dog and what his intentions were.

    I don't think you did anything wrong. If Badger is leash reactive like Rufus is, the worst thing you can do is try to restrain him (Rufus will act like this is the end of the world and start growling like crazy). Other than that, just remain calm like you did :)

  3. This is always a fear of mine whenever I go out with both the dogs. If someone where to approach us, whether it's just to play, it just becomes a dangerous situation with us all being tangled up in leashes. I'm like Two Kitties, I bring a citronella spray too. I've never had to use it, but it makes me more comfortable just having it.
    It seems like you both handled it well!

  4. We are approached by at least one off-leash dog every time we go on a walk in our neighborhood. I guess you can say we live in the pet ghetto. Many of the dogs that approach us are repeat offenders, but from time to time we are approached by an unknown dog. I've become pretty good at knowing which house which dog belongs to so I can shoe them back to their home. Rarely is an off leash dog ever accompanied by their owner, so I am usually doing all the work on my own. I need to be better about calling animal control about the repeat offenders.

    When we first started being approached by off leash dogs I was terrified and I'm sure I did everything wrong. Now I'm much more confident in myself and in Athena that I handle the situation differently. Usually I will body block so as not to allow the off leash dog contact with Athena. I always carry my SprayShield so I bust this out and pull the trigger ready to spray if needed. I simply hold the can facing the off leash dog and stand very tall. I use my very deepest of voice and "yell" at them something like "HEY" and move towards them with the spray can still pointing towards them.

    I must be really scary when putting on this act because the dogs always run away from me back to their homes. I have never had to actually spray any of the SprayShield, but I would do it in a heartbeat if I had to.

    I've also tried tossing the off leash dog treats, but that never worked very well.

    Athena does get pretty riled up when we are approached by off leash dogs and she gets really ticked off when I don't let her meet them. She will whine and whine for many minutes. If the off leash dog incident happens pretty close to home, we always walk around the block a couple more times before heading into the house, otherwise Athena will usually get a case of the MAJOR stress zoomies as soon as we enter the door.

  5. I like your contrasting versions of the situation! We had a reverse situation like that tonight! I was bringing my dogs in from the car and had them off leash since they stick right with me. We were rushed by an angry poodle on a long leash. My dogs stood next to me and wondered what the commotion was about, while my kitty did a flying leap from the tree to the fence to the ground and scared off the little monster:/

  6. Schultz had a personal vendetta against an off leash yorkie yipping machine in our old complex. He had an embarrassing meltdown every time he saw this dog, which was practically daily. I am not proud of it, but I got to the point where I would throw things at this dog to keep it away. Obviously I didn't fear for Schultz's safety so much as his peace of mind. Plus I could just picture him hurting this little harasser and me getting sued over it. We walk at the lake across from our new place now and it as a lot of human traffic so people are more cautious about letting their rude dogs run a muck. It has been a major relief.

  7. My version is very much like yours. I had a dog attack Trinity when she was a puppy (she was fine I was more shaken up than her) as we were on a walk. I always get nervous that the off leash dog is aggressive. We had this one German Shepard who would charge up to her to say hi, she didn't like it, I didn't like it and the owner seemed to care less that his dog runs into the street whenever someone came by. People need to respect our laws and if your dog is not trained enough to stay in the yard than put them on a leash.