What to Do When a Stray Dog is Loose!

My mom and I like to go walking and she feels very safe with me, as I am a sturdy lady. However, there are a few times when we both feel a little intimidated when we see a loose dog wandering around or starting to approach us.

I am quite friendly, though I know that I too, look intimidating to some people even on a leash. The question here is what should we do, when a dog that is loose or a dog that has the neighborhood reputation of being unfriendly is approaching us? Mom and I are peace loving and want to avoid a conflict at all costs. I cannot afford to hurt my pretty face and I do not want Mom hurt at all.

Lesson number one is do an about face, make a 180-degree turn and start back the way you came. Trusting that the other dog will not have any interest in following you.

If going back is not possible then cross the street, quickly and quietly, Mom usually distracts me from making eye contact with the other dog by offering me a treat or by giving me a scratch and some loving conversation. However, if the dog crosses the street and is coming toward us, Mom usually says very nicely in a loud clear happy voice “sit” or “go home” and we move on. However, once in awhile that does not work and even though it breaks my heart she will toss some of my “good dog” walking treats in front of the dog and while it is eating them up, we move swiftly away.

If all else fails and the dog keeps coming toward you, Mom and I suggest that you put a barrier between you and the other dog, even if it means stepping into someone else’s fenced yard where you can close the gate. Most people will not be offended if you are on their property under this type of circumstance.

One thing Mom carries with her when we walk is a noisy thing called a whistle, this can be used to scare another dog away and also protect us from a human intruder (of course I would take care of them).

We have never had this problem, but if a dog fight becomes inevitable, the first thing you should do is let go of your dog’s leash, do not try to interfere and pray. Trying to separate two fighting dogs can only lead to you being hurt along with the dogs. If you can find something to distract them fine, a loud noise, screaming might help, throwing something at them also may work, but whatever you do, do not try to single handedly try to break them up. If a hose and some water were available that would surely do it.

Mom says one of the most important things a person can do is to learn some basic dog body language. Me, I am generally a very happy go lucky dog and find that trying to be mean creates wrinkles in my face and I do not like that.

But here are some signs to be watchful for if you meet a loose dog while walking.

A defensive aggressive dog will have its ears back and pupils dilated (if you are close enough to see them.) The hair on the scruff of its neck will be raised, the tail down and stiff and its mouth will be wrinkled with its teeth exposed and will definitely be snarling.

An aggressive attack dog will have its ears erect and somewhat tilted forward, its eyes will be staring, lips curled and snarling (an ugly sight.) The tail will be up and stiff and it will look as though it is charging forward (and it is) toward you.

Friendly and confident dogs can also have their ears erect and forward, but it is easy to tell a friendly dog from the relaxed position of its total body. The facial expression of a friendly dog is rather happy and even though they may dart forward it is usually because they want to play and are happy to see you. A friendly dog does not snarl or growl.

My Mom says if you have a neighborhood dog that is running loose and you know who is the owner try having a talk with the owner. Explain calmly to them what the problem is and hopefully they will respond and solve the problem. If not and you see that you will not get anywhere with this person, Mom say call out the “big guns,” call the local animal control agency and report the situation. You need to identify yourself (yes, Mom says that is important) and give them all the details that you can remember.

The important thing here is to remain calm and polite and if the response is not handled within a reasonable period of time, climb up the ladder, from supervisor, to manager, to that person’s supervisor and on up until you get the right results. Remember, Mom says you catch more flies with honey than you do vinegar (whatever that means.)

But if all else fails go to the media as the life you save may not be your own, but could easily be someone else’s.

Well, these were a few tips on walking safely with your dog. Mom and I love our walks and the exercise is good for both of us. We both wish you safe walks and pleasant times. Until next time!



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