How to handle approaching dogs on a walk

Category:

As Seen With - Cathy Rosenthal

Encourage Kindness to Animals!

Highly-acclaimed children's books for your child or organization

How to handle approaching dogs on a walk

Updated Dec 21, 2021

Dear Cathy,

I have a 16-pound Havashu. We do not have a fenced yard, so she is walked several times a day. There are quite a few large dogs that we encounter on our walks through the neighborhood. Some are being walked and are leashed, and some are allowed loose. Sometimes, the people with the leashed dogs want our dogs to meet. If they are really large, I am reluctant because of the size difference. The loose dogs charge at us. I am afraid of large dogs (having been cornered by a pack as a child), so my fear transfers to my dog. What is the best course of action?  Fortunately, at every encounter, the owner was nearby and came to our rescue, but I am afraid that one day we will meet a dog without it’s master. Can you please advise me on what to do?

– June P., Patchogue, New York

Dear June,

I understand your fears. My dog and I were once cornered by two dogs without their owner. My dog fought them off trying to protect me and was injured. After that, we could not walk around the block without him feeling anxious about every passing dog.

Even if you haven’t been cornered by a dog, it can be stressful to see a large, unleashed dog approaching you. Your dog will feel your tension through the leash, so whatever you can do to ease your fears, like deep breathing, can be helpful to you both.

There are only a handful of things you can do. You can carry an umbrella, which when opened can serve as a barrier between you and the approaching dog. You can shake a can of coins, toss the can onto the street (never at the dog), or use a Pet Corrector, which emits compressed air, to startle a dog and hopefully stop them from coming any closer.

Another technique is to put your leashed dog behind you in a sit position, and stand in front of him, letting your dog know “you got this.” Then, lean towards the approaching dog, yell “enough” as loudly as you can, and point outward over the dog indicating you want the dog to go away. Surprisingly, it works well in getting curious dogs (not aggressive dogs) to step back. 

As for the people and pets who want to meet you, it’s okay to say, “no thanks.” You are allowed to set boundaries for you and your dog. Let me know how some of these strategies work for you.

Cathy M. Rosenthal is a longtime animal advocate, author, columnist and pet expert who has more than 25 years in the animal welfare field. Send your pet questions, stories and tips to cathy@petpundit.com. Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal

Was this article helpful? Share with others!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

DSC_4602

Cathy Rosenthal, CHES, CFE
Animal Welfare Communications Specialist

Cathy brings more than 25 years' experience in the animal welfare field. She is a sought-after speaker, Certified Humane Education Specialist, a syndicated pet advice columnist, an author, a publisher, and of course - a loving pet parent.

Read more about Cathy here or check out her Non-Profit's page to see more ways she can help you and your organization.

Other Articles You Might Enjoy

Top ten wild animals that most commonly attack pets

Javelinas are peccaries, which are feral pig-like omnivores native to the southwestern United States, mostly Arizona. They have been known to viciously attack both pets ...
Read More

How to help a shy dog gain confidence in you

Dear Cathy, My adult daughter and her family have a female lab mix named Scooby. Despite my seeing her three to four times a year ...
Read More

Treat dog anxiety and then train

Dear Cathy, I have a ten-year-old and 13-year-old Boston terrier and a two-year-old cat. My ten-year-old Billy is a handful. He is the busiest dog ...
Read More