Off-leash dogs can be extremely off-putting for dog owners who obey leash laws. If you encounter an off-leash dog, you may need to take immediate action to stop the dog from charging or acting aggressively. Dog owners should know to keep their dogs leashed in public areas, especially where the law demands it. If you must speak to a dog owner about their off-leash dog, do so in a calm and friendly manner, as this will elicit the best response, and keep the discussion from escalating into an argument.
How to Stop a Charging Off-Leash Dog
More often than not, an off-leash dog is charging because he’s excited to meet you, or your dog. Unfortunately, charging sometimes elicits a negative response from the on-leash dog, resulting in a messy fight. Charging is not a healthy behavior, and there’s no telling if the dog coming at you is friendly or aggressive. Cesar Milan recommends walking with a walking stick, or an umbrella, in order to appear bigger, and more in command of your space. Milan also recommends reacting calmly, but in an assertive manner. Give a friendly shout to the dog’s owner, even if they’re far away, alerting them that their dog is approaching you and you’re not comfortable with that.
Talking to Owners About Their Off-Leash Dogs
If you’re having problems with an off-leash dog, perhaps recommending an off-leash park to the dog’s owner would alleviate the issue. Many communities, such as Prospect Park in Brooklyn, have off-leash dog areas. You won’t have to worry about running into the off-leash pooch again, unless the dog owner truly feels above the law. Another strategy would be to recommend a long-line leash, which can be retracted when people and dogs are approaching. If the dog owner refuses to leash their dog, you may have to contact the authorities to report the incident.
Talking to Owners About Their Aggressive Dogs
Aggression is very common in dogs, but aggressive dogs should never be walked off-leash. If a dog owner believes an area is free of traffic, she may turn her aggressive dog loose. This situation, and others involving aggressive dogs, may require you to exchange words with the dog owner. Dog owners are often sensitive about their dogs, so don’t approach the situation negatively. Instead, approach the dog owner calmly, and ask if she wouldn’t mind having a chat. Let her know that her dog’s aggression is affecting you, and that you’d like to help her solve the issue. Recommend that she add a leash to her walking routine, or suggest additional training. The ASPCA recommends identifying what’s causing the aggression, and treating the aggression by eliminating triggers. If the dog owner refuses to leash her aggressive dog, you may need to contact local authorities to deal with the matter in an official capacity.
Dealing With a Stray Dog
Unfortunately, not all off-leash dogs are followed by an owner. Dogs sometimes escape their homes, and romp around the neighborhood unfettered. In this case, you won’t be able to call upon the owner to control their dog. Carrying treats is a great way to distract the dog. If you encounter a loose dog, command him to sit, and toss him a treat. If he doesn’t sit, gently toss a handful of treats at his face. This will alert him to the presence of food, and hopefully distract him from further engaging. If you’re worried that a stray dog may be aggressive, you can combat it with a non-toxic spray product designed to scare off potentially aggressive dogs.