My town has a leash law. I think it’s relatively new, but we do have one. Now that doesn’t mean that everyone keeps their dog under control. As a matter of fact, it’s not uncommon for me to have an encounter with a strange dog when I’m walking Belle.
Now if you’ve been reading this blog, you know that Belle often displays aggression towards other dogs. So when a stray or loose dog comes running up to us, I have to be prepared. Surprisingly, I have become fairly good at standing my ground and chasing the other dog off. I was amazed at my ability to stop a charging German shepherd not too long ago. But I’m not successful every time, and then there are consequences. Not only do I get upset at these occurrences, but me or my dog could become injured.
Once, a dog came running out my neighbor’s open door and immediately this dog and Belle got into a fight. Belle, of course, was leashed, so it wasn’t a fair fight to say the least. I was yelling loudly to get the owner outside to deal with his animal and my instinct was to put my body in between the two dogs. This was NOT a good idea, but luckily I did not get bitten.
Loose dogs, whether friendly or not, pose a hazard. They can run into oncoming traffic, become involved in dog fights, or simply frighten people that are not familiar with dogs.
What I Do When A Loose Dog is Approaching
So what can you do when a strange dog without an owner comes running towards you or is paying a little too much attention as you walk by?
I have found that many dogs will respond to commands in a strong, forceful tone. If the dog has any training, using “stop” or “get back” or “no” in a harsh, strong voice can do the trick. Picking up a stick and using it to display or warn the dog has helped me too (largely I think it makes me feel better). I have also picked up stones or pine cones to toss in the direction of a dog that continues to follow us. I am not aiming at the dog, but near the dog to scare it off.
If a dog is approaching me, I don’t turn my back on the dog, but don’t move towards it either. I try slowly backing up and keeping my dog under control as best as I can. Displaying aggression towards the dog can turn out badly. And, perhaps most importantly, I don’t run and do my best to remain calm, despite how upsetting it can be to have a dog run at you.
If this doesn’t work and the dog continues to approach, my next resort is to call out loudly to the owner or the house. Oftentimes the owner is at home or outside, but just didn’t think that their dog would get in a fight or cause problems. Remember that just because your dog is friendly and likes other people and other dogs, does not mean that the dog that is walking by is friendly. Leash laws help protect your dog and others.
I often carry a bottle of mace with me, just in case an aggressive dog comes towards us and I have no other recourse. I do not know if this will work, but I assume that it would. Unfortunately, I do not know how I could spray one dog and not the other or even myself. I can only hope that I do not have to use it.
Finally, if you know the owner of the dog that is loose, talking with this person and requesting that they keep their dog under control or in a fenced area may help. They may be unaware that their dog is getting out of the backyard or that it is a problem for you. Most neighbors want to be a good neighbor and will do their best to resolve a problem.
If talking with your neighbor doesn’t work and the dog continues to be left to his own devices, it’s time to call your animal control officer. Animal control officers will often give a warning to an owner before picking up a dog, but if the dog is aggressive, it’s important to get it picked up before it hurts someone.
Dog Dazer – High Frequency Sounds to Scare Off Loose Dogs
There is a product called the Dog Dazer II, which I recently purchased. This device emits a high frequency sound that many dogs dislike intensely. Most dogs will retreat as quickly as possible.
It is impossible to know if this causes a dog pain or just discomfort. It is also a non-specific device so all animals in the area (the device says within 15 feet or so), will hear it and be affected.
It also does not work on all dogs. I have discovered that most large dogs will react to it, but the very small breeds have not, in my experience. You should also not use it when you are walking with your dog as your dog will react as well and may deem it a punishment for something.
I am not advocating the use of this device to try and modify the behavior of your neighborhood dogs or as a training device, but am speaking to my experience in deterring dogs as they approach you.
I loaned my dazer to my parents, whom had recently been charged (and nipped at) by a pair of dogs in their neighborhood. Upon seeing the dogs racing towards them, my mother hit the dazer, and the dogs immediately ran back to the house. In addition to carrying this device, my parents discussed this problem with the local animal control officer who had a conversation with the pet owners and the problem has been solved.
Always be careful when strange dogs approach you or your dog, as they can often be unpredictable. Please be a responsible dog owner, obey leash laws and keep your own dog safe and under control.