Okaw Veterinary Clinic LLC

140 West Sale Street
Tuscola, IL 61953



Dog Attacks - When your Dog is on Leash and the Attacker is Off


One of the scariest situations to be in where dogs are concerned is having a large breed dog barreling down the street aiming right for your dog who is innocently walking along side you on leash. Yikes! Now what do you do? You have to act quick but what should one do first to protect your dog and yourself.

Here is a guide to get you through this awful situation. There is not one way - fixes it all answer so use this information and apply it to your situation as best you can. If you are not clear on what to try - call my office. We have guided many clients through this and as a service to public health and safety I extend this offer to you. I myself have been in this situation and it is really scary. 

1. Know your neighborhood. If you have a dog nearby who is constantly running the fence barking, lunging, jumping up or on the fence that dog is really out to get yours. The gate may be open one day, or the dog may get enough gumption to jump or scale the fence. Too many backyard fences are too short to hold a dog in. I have seen many dogs scale a 6 foot privacy fence. Avoid at all costs walking past this yard. Go different routes. Don't tempt fate. If that is not possible - tell the neighbor that you need them to keep their dog up at the times you are walking your dog. Speak up for what you and your dog need to be safe. This dog is also not having fun - it is aggressing because it  does not want this dog around. Happy dogs don't do this!!! 

2. For loose dogs - get a bush, parked car, garbage can or some way to be out of the sight of the off leash dog. Move quickly without running! Running will entice the loose dog to chase. If the dog starts heading to you stomp your foot harshly, yell in a deep gruff voice "Go" and holler "Get your dog inside!!!!!!!!!"  Make a ruckus to get others out to help and call the dog away. After you have your dog home call the animal control and make a formal complaint if this dog is chronically off leash. All communities have leash laws. They are for public safety. Follow up and be something has been done. It may be the one time this has happened and a remorseful, apologetic owner will be more watchful of their dog. If the owner does not seem to care, make them be responsible to their pet and to the laws.

3. Use a protective tool. This is something that will protect you from a dog lunging and biting at your or your dog if you know the owner of the problem dog is not going to do anything and the law cannot extend enforcement completely. Spray Shield by Premier is a compressed water/citronella spray that will shoot out and confuse an attacking dog giving you time to get away and be safe. You can order this online. Baseball bats or big sticks are not safe or as effective. When you hit the attacking dog, they will likely redirect the aggression on you due to the pain. Or if you drop the stick or hit your own dog, the other dog will be more confident and attack more. An umbrella that you can quickly snap open and use a shield is also very effective. You don't want to hit the dog - use it as a shield.

4. Do not turn your back on this dog. Walk backwards to get away. If you turn away from the dog, many use this as an opportunity to attack.

5. Always wear solid shoes when walking your dog!!!! I have seen many more injuries to people and their dogs in these situations because they were wearing flip flops that slipped off, or were tripped over. Sneakers, boots, or other solid shoes only when walking dogs.

6. Your dog on a chain and dogs loose - Do not ever leave your dog alone in the yard on a stake out chain. Loose dogs can and will come up and intimidate or attack these dogs. To the loose dog, these dogs are in the loose dog's territory and the chained dog cannot defend or escape. Stay out there and have a garden hose handy to spray off any intruders.  

Even if a loose dog does not threaten you, it can still be a dangerous situation for others. Report this and be responsible to yourself, and the safety of others. A dog may be fine around it's owner, but when the owner steps inside it is a different story. I have personally seen many severe dog attacks that were from problem roaming dogs that were not repeatedly reported to put the pressure on the owner to be responsible. Sometimes being the nag is what is needed to make the situation better.

If you do have a caring neighbor with a dog that is aggressing - seek help for this situation from a veterinarian or certified trainer who has experience working with these dogs. Some attacker dogs can learn to be better, and safety can be set up. The "cure" depends on the owners, dogs and environment involved. Please see my website, blog and YouTube videos for behavior help or schedule a consult.

I also want to extend my sympathy for all the people and families that have had pets attacked, maimed and killed by free roaming dogs. This tragedy is not only horrible for the pet that died, but also for the family and the community. 


- written by Dr. Sally Foote

Okaw Veterinary Clinic
140 W. Sale
Tuscola, IL 61953
(217) 253-3221


Mon & Fri 8 am - 6 pm
Tues & Wed 8 am - 5 pm
Sat 8 am - noon
Closed Thurs & Sun

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