Off Leash Dog Problems
When off leash dogs come after your dog on leash.
One of the scariest situations to be in, as a dog owner, is having a large breed dog barreling down the street aiming right for your dog who is innocently walking along 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 no "one size fits all" fix - so use this information as it best fits your situation. If you are not clear on what to do - 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.
- 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 out to get your dog. The gate may be open one day, or the dog may get enough gumption to jump or scale the fence. Many backyard fences are too short to hold a dog in. I have seen many dogs scale a 6 foot privacy fence. Avoid 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!!! You could try throwing a hot dog or other super yummy treat into the yard, away from the fence if the owners will not keep their dogs in, and you have to go by. You are now training this dog to like the sight of you, and teaching the dog to go away from the fence. Yes, this can work, and if the owner gets upset it is their choice to put up their dog or take the chance you will be throwing treats at the dog.
- For loose dogs - get a bush, parked car, garbage can or something between you and this dog. Get out of the line of sight of this 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 off leash. All communities have leash laws. They are for public safety. See that the law is enforced on this person with all fines and duties. 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.
- Use a protective tool. Wasp spray will shoot out in a stream, and is available at all hardware stores. Carry this when you walk and be ready to spray it at the perpetrator. Baseball bats or big sticks are risky for the dog to attack you. Instead, carry an umbrella to quickly snap open and use a shield. Don't hit the dog - use it as a shield and yell in a deep voice "Get your dog out of here - Somebody call off this dog." Do not scream in a high pitched voice - a deep voice.
- 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.
- Always wear solid shoes when walking your dog!!!! I have seen many more injuries to people and their dogs because they were wearing flip flops that slipped off, or were tripped over. Sneakers, boots, or other solid shoes only when walking dogs.
- Your dog in the yard, 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. 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 reported. Make the report. Sometimes being the nag is what is needed to make the situation better.
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