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How to handle it when an off-the-leash dog approaches you

by | Mar 13, 2020 | Dog Bites

The weather here in Ohio is finally settling down and getting warmer. A lot of folks will naturally try to take advantage of the spring thaw to get out a little bit — and they may have their dogs with them.

While most dog owners are perfectly responsible “pet parents,” there are always a few who let their dogs run off the leash or don’t pay enough attention to where their pets may wander while they’re out in the yard. If you’re out and about and encounter a loose dog, here are some tips on how to handle it:

  • Don’t panic and run. Running is always a bad idea. So is screaming, jumping backward, turning your back on the animal or any other kinds of actions that the dog may consider a “flight” response. That can kick off an internal trigger inside the animal that causes them to be more aggressive.
  • Don’t pick up your pet. If your dog is with you, you may be tempted to lift your dog off the ground. That can encourage the other dog to leap at you. You can’t actually protect yourself or your dog if your hands are occupied.
  • Block the other dog’s approach. You don’t want to look aggressive, but you also don’t want to look weak. Stiffening your posture and stepping one foot in front of your own dog can help assert dominance without threatening the other dog.
  • Use a firm voice. Order the other dog to stop, halt or sit. Use a commanding tone (similar to what you might use with your own dogs or kids when they’re misbehaving).
  • Divert your approach. If you get the idea that the other dog is just outside of their own yard and trying to guard it, change paths. You can cross the street or go in another direction much more safely.

Hopefully, the animal’s owner will quickly take charge, and you’ll avoid any ugly confrontations.

Dog bites can lead to scarring, infection and emotional trauma that’s hard to overcome. If you’ve been bitten by a neighbor’s dog, find out what rights you may have to compensation.


Nathan J. Stuckey