Dog Safety is Key

Being approached by a loose dog, especially when yours is on a leash, can be a nerve-wracking experience. Every situation is different, and each requires an on the spot risk assessment. Here are a few tips that might help with the next roaming dog you encounter:

  • Avoid the situation. If you know of specific homes that often let their dogs wander, walk a different route.
  • Loosen up on your dog’s leash. This sounds counterproductive but a tight leash telegraphs to both dogs you’re nervous, and it will make them nervous.
  • Hang a U-ie. If you see an unattended dog down the street casually do a U-turn with your dog. Try and get a barrier between you and the approaching dog: a parked car, a fence, go up on a porch or inside a business.
  • Use treats. Food will help keep your dog focused on you instead of the loose dog.
  • Try calming signals. Dogs see these “signals” as conflict avoidance: avoiding eye contact, yawning, and lip licking. Keeping your dog calm will go a long way in keeping the approaching dog calm.
  • Be assertive. Try saying no, go home, or sit. Hold your hand out in the universal stop symbol. Turn sideways to the approaching dog. If you’re terrified, call 911.
  • An umbrella scares many dogs and physically helps keep them away from you and your dog.
  • Treat tossing. Take a handful of treats and toss them at the dog coming at you.
  • Air horn. If a dog is intent on attacking this won’t stop them, but if it’s just a curious dog, it might work. They sell pocket-sized air horns, and they honk quite loudly. This may cause the loose dog to turn tail and run the other way.
  • Walking stick. The goal with a stick isn’t to harm the other dog but to intimidate it. Slap the stick on the ground or whirl it through the air. Some dogs may see this as a challenge so make this a last resort.
  • Deterrent spray. Mace or pepper spray has a large drift area, so it’s actually easy to end up getting the spray on yourself, so use them as a last resort. Citronella-based sprays work well too.

Remain calm and avoid routes where you know there are loose dogs out.


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