What Do You Do If An Off-leash Dog Approaches You While You Are Walking A Dog?

There’s nothing worse than when we’re having a casual stroll with our owner and an unsupervised dog starts heading towards us. This is especially worrying if, like me, your canine friend is a bit on the nervous side. 

However, I’m going to let you in on some tips so that next time this happens, you can take the best course of action. 

First up, keep your eyes on your dog: how are they reacting? If you notice that their body language has changed, and they look scared or aggressive, you need to try to distract them as soon as possible. 

Don’t forget, us dogs react to your body language, so if you’re anxious, it will make us anxious too. The best thing you can do is stay calm, any movements or vocal commands should be done in a slow, calm, manner. 

You also shouldn’t run, as this could cause the approaching dog to charge at us and will increase the tensions of the situation. Simply walk away casually, but if the approaching dog seems aggressive, don’t turn your back on them.

Instead, try to walk away at a 90-degree angle, as this allows you to keep an eye on the other dog as you guide your own dog away.

As the dog approaches, try some general vocal commands such as “sit, stay, or go” in a low, stern tone, and you can also try throwing some treats far away to distract them. 

If the above doesn’t work, try to find a physical barrier that you can place between the approaching dog, and you and your dog. This could be a fence, a car, or anything that you’re carrying. For example, an umbrella can be useful, as once opened it can be used as a blockade to deter the other dog or scare them off. 

If your dog is on the small side like me, resist picking them up, as while this seems like the best way to protect them, it might cause the other dog to jump up and even attack.

Only pick us up if you are able to place us somewhere safe, such as on top of a car, over a fence, or if you’re able to carry us indoors. 

Hopefully, the owner of the dog is somewhere nearby, and if you don’t want their dog to approach, call out to the owner and make them aware of this. They may call out to reassure you that their dog is friendly, but still, ask them to call their dog away, and kindly explain that you are training, or that your dog is nervous around other dogs. 

What to do when a dog tries to attack you? 

Hopefully, this never happens to you, as the vast majority of us are friendly and mean no harm.

However, sometimes a dog may be aggressive for whatever reason, and in this case, you need to know how to protect yourself in the worst-case scenario. 

  1. First of all, you should quickly judge the weight and height of the dog. Small dogs usually go for the ankles and legs, while bigger dogs can go for the neck or face. 
  2. If the dog leaps or jumps up at you, lift your knee as high as you can in front of you to keep the dog from reaching your face. Then cross your arms and cover your face. If possible, cross your arms and tuck your head in and roll into a ball. Try to lay as still as you can. 
  3. If you feel comfortable confronting the dog, you can fight back, but avoid doing this with very large dogs as it could result in worse injuries. 
  4. Dogs are prey-driven and will keep fighting until their prey stops moving – so don’t look, touch, or talk to the dog, and definitely don’t look it in the eye. 
  5. Oh, and I’ll let you in on a secret: don’t be fooled by a wagging tail – this doesn’t always mean we’re happy to see you, and the same goes for a yawn – sometimes it just means we’re tired, but yawning can also be a sign of stress and impending danger.

What to do when a stray dog approaches you?

Most stray dogs won’t harm you, but if a stray dog comes towards you and you’re worried, follow these steps: 

  • Stay still, and don’t try to run. Stand with your arms close to your sides, and don’t move.
  • Don’t stare at the dog, as they may interpret this as a threat. Instead, keep your eyes focused downward and watch them with your peripheral vision.
  • Allow the dog to sniff you if they try to, but resist putting your hand out as this can be interpreted as a threat.
  • When the dog leaves, back away slowly without turning your back on them. Keep them in your peripheral vision.  
  • Once the dog has gone, call a local animal rescue shelter so they can rescue the dog, reunite them with their owner, or help them be rehomed. 

Will my dog protect me if I’m attacked? 

This depends on the nature of the attack and on your dog, as there’s no one answer to this question.

On the whole, trained dogs are more likely to protect their owner than untrained dogs. I know for one that I’d step in if anything happened to my owner, and some family dogs are very protective of their owners and would step in if an attack or break-in occurs.

It really does depend on how much of a natural guard dog they are, or whether or not they’ve been trained to protect you. 

There’s also statistical evidence that dogs can help protect your home from burglary: about 34% of convicted burglars said that if they saw or heard a dog inside a home they would change their mind about breaking in.

Plus, a report from the US Department of Justice concluded that: ”On average, burglarized homes are less likely to have dogs than non-burglarized homes, suggesting that dogs should be a substantial deterrent.”

So even if your dog is a big softie at heart, even a loud bark could be an effective theft deterrent!