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

Being a dog parent is a blessing. It brings immense joy and happiness to our lives. But is it a bed of roses all the time?

Probably not. One of the most traumatic experiences for dog owners would be when they are approached by loose dogs or dogs without leashes. So what do you do if an off-leash dog approaches you while you are walking a dog?

What do you do if an off-leash dog approaches you while you are walking a dog

Before we go ahead, it is important to understand that not all off-leash dogs are harmful. But as we aren’t always familiar with them, it is advisable to keep our guards up.

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

Imagine strolling in a park with your furry little best friend on a warm spring evening. Sounds peaceful and fun, right? It could go drastically wrong in a fraction of a second if you are approaching a dog who is off the leash.

To avoid such circumstances, adhere to the following tips and learn what do you do if an off-leash dog approaches you while you are walking a dog.

Read More: Make a Dog Leash Out of Climbing Rope | Make a Paracord Dog Leash Using Cobra Stitch

1. Stay Calm

This may sound like a piece of generic advice, but it is an effective one. Dogs are smart animals who can read your anxiety levels and body language. If you see a stray or off-leash dog approaching you while you are walking your dog, try to remain calm.

Avoid any sudden movements that can trigger both- yours as well as the other dog. If you end up startling your dog by picking them up and running away, it might anger the approaching dog. If you stay calm, your dog will follow your lead and so will the other canines.

If you are walking in the same direction as the other off-leash dog, DO NOT panic and change the direction instantaneously. You might end up provoking the dog. Instead, keep yourself under control and walk in the intended direction or take a 90-degree turn. The dog might gradually lose interest and change his/her course.

2. Be Vocal

If the off-leash dog continues to approach you, it is time to take a stand. Use general vocal commands to redirect them. You can try with “sit” or “stay” or “go home” in a stern voice. Keep your body firm and try to assert authority.

scare a dog away

Use your hand to reinforce the stop message. If the other dog is trained or friendly, they might actually stop and move away. But aggressive dogs might not respond to your commands.

3. Study Body Language

You do not have to master Kinesics (the study of body language) to understand the movements and gestures of dogs. There are simple giveaways that can help you stay on alert.

If the dog is an off-leash or stray dog, there are high chances that they are untrained or stressed. This can be determined by certain subtle body movements. If the approaching dog is wagging their tail, their mouth is open, or they have calm eyes, they are most likely to be friendly and harmless.

What to do if an aggressive dog approaches you

On the other hand, stressed-out dogs make themselves appear smaller and haunch their back. They might just run away from you. But aggressive dogs may growl or snarl. They might appear larger than reality and the hair on the back of the necks can appear to be raised. Such dogs tend to attack humans or fellow dogs.

4. Use Treats as a Distraction

If the off-leash dog follows your commands, you can throw some treats in their direction to reward them. You can use a similar technique even if they continue to approach you.

You can throw a few treats in their directions and the rest in the complete opposite one. In this way, you can get a certain time-frame to take your dog and move away while they are distracted.

treating an off leash dog

You can also try to throw some treats on their face to break their focus. So, while their attention is diverted, you can slowly change your path. It should be noted that if you are picking up your dog and moving away, try to hide them by keeping your back towards the other dog. This will allow you to prevent any altercations between the two canines.

5. Physical Boundary

If the aforementioned tips fail to work for you, resort to a substantial barrier. As dogs are repelled by the smell of vinegar, you can carry dog repellent sprays. They are easily available in the market.

Spray a little in the direction of the off-leash approaching dog, and it might do the trick. They might be unable to bear the smell and run away. As these sprays are harmless, you need not worry about them having an allergic reaction to them.

If you do not wish to spend your money on such sprays, you can even carry an umbrella to create a barrier. Swiftly open the umbrella in front of them. Such a simple trick can scare them off. You must use this as your last refuge because it can also outrage the dog.

6. Call Out the Owner

As there is a possibility of the off-leash dog to have his/her owner nearby, call out to them. Hopefully, they would come ahead and take their dog away. This is a safe option, especially when you are unaware of the dog’s training.

Read More: Teach a Puppy to Walk on a Leash | Train an Older Dog to Walk on a Leash | How to Train Your Dog to Walk Without a Leash

Things to Avoid While Being Approached by an Off-leash Dog

Certain things or gestures can provoke an off-leash dog while you are walking your dog. The following are some techniques that you must evade at all costs:

1. Avoid Running Away

It is instinctive for dog owners to take their dog and run away if and when they’re approached by an off-leashed dog. But this will only trigger them and possibly make them more aggressive. It is advisable to stay calm and fight the feeling of running away.

2. Do Not Come Between the Dogs

You might get a strong feeling of coming between your dog and the other dog. But you must avert it as it is not a viable option. Untrained or aggressive dogs tend to bite the hands of humans. This can lead to severe injuries. Hence, you must keep your dog behind you, possibly in a hidden manner, and continue walking.

3. Do Not Pick Up Your Dog Swiftly

When you and your dog are approached by a random or aggressive off-leash dog, your first instinct might be to pick your dog up in your arms. Even though your intention might be to shield them from the other canine, it can have a negative repercussion.

By doing so, you might end up provoking their prey’s instinct. To avoid such a response, either slow your motion or hide it altogether. Stand in such a way that your back is faced by the stranger dog. Only after doing so, you must pick up your pet.

Note: Learn about what are the perfect ways to hold a dog leash to keep your dog with you.

Ways to Prevent Being Approached by an Off-leash Dog

Dealing with an unfriendly dog while walking your dog can be a traumatic experience. If you wish to avoid such an altercation in the future, you can do the needful in the following manner:

1. Search For Designated Areas

You must always be on the lookout for walking areas suitable for your dog’s training. There are certain parks or playgrounds where the dogs must be leashed up. If your dog is not trained enough to walk off-leashed, it is best to select such areas for their daily walks. This significantly reduces the chances of being confronted by an off-leash dog.

Similarly, there are certain parks where the dogs aren’t supposed to be wearing a leash. It is best to avoid such areas or grounds.

2. Train Your Dog

Regardless of the reason, it is best to train your dog in its early stages. You can teach them walking behaviors with and without the leash. Along with that, you can teach them to go with your lead when you’re taking instant decisions. This can be fruitful in stressful situations.

Ways to Break Up a Dog Fight

If none of the tricks work for the off-leash dog, there are chances that it might lead to a dog fight. In such a situation, it is better to be prepared beforehand.

The key is to remain calm and composed. As it is next to impossible to break it up on your own, try taking somebody’s help. The other person could grab the dog’s back legs, startling them into letting go.

ways to break a dog fight

There are other non-physical ways like shouting or banging a stick on the ground. This could work if the dog is less aggressive.

Loud and sudden sounds like an air horn or whistling can also break up the fight. Spraying some dog-repellant spray can also do the trick.

At the end of the day, you must remain calm and not get too enraged in any situation.

Other Relevant Questions

If the dog you’re walking is barking at another dog, what should you do?

If you are walking your dog and he/she starts barking at another dog, try distracting them. You can try giving them treats if they stop barking. In this way, they’d realize a pattern that they are getting rewarded for not barking. Gradually, they will stop barking at other dogs.

How to stop a dog from running away when off leash?

It is important to give the right training to your dog before taking off his/her leash. Carry several treats in your pocket. Take a long and thin string. Attach one end to your dog’s collar and another to your belt or hand. Along with that, attach the regular leash to the collar.

After getting his/her attention, remove the leash, and let them go. If they bolt ahead, they will be pulled back by the invisible string. Once they return, give them love and treats. After repeating this a couple of times, they will correlate with the treats and not bolting off, and they will stop running away when off-leash.

What to do when a dog attacks your dog?

If a dog attacks your dog, do not panic or try to come between them. Ask for somebody’s help in pulling the two dogs apart. Make a loud sound with a blow horn or a whistle. You can also try to distract your dog by giving firm commands or treats. If they have been injured, take them to the vet immediately.

How do I get my dog to ignore other dogs on walks?

If you want your dog to ignore other dogs on walks, opt for a loose leash rather than a tight one. Carry treats at all times as it can be used to distract them. Whenever a dog walks next to you or approaches you, lure them to the other side with those treats.

How do you protect yourself from dogs while walking your dog?

You can carry certain things like a large stick, air horn, whistle, or dog repellant sprays to protect yourself and your pup from other dogs.

What should I do if my dog runs at my dog?

If your dog runs at other dogs while you are walking them, you can command them in a firm voice. Try distracting them with treats to lure them away from the other dogs. If nothing seems to work, call out the owner of the dog to handle the situation.

Can I trust an off leash dog?

If you see an off-leash dog approaching you and your dog, you shouldn’t take the situation lightly. There are chances of the dog turning out to be friendly, but it is best to keep our guard up. So if you see an off-leash dog walking towards you, keep calm and slowly direct your dog in another direction.

Summing Up

Walking your dog is supposed to be a happy experience and not a source of trauma. Now that you know what do you do if an off-leash dog approaches you while you are walking a dog, we hope that you stay alert.

Regardless of the surrounding, it is best to know and learn how to control your dog. Always carry your dog’s favorite treats at all times as they could turn out to be a blessing in disguise.

Try to read the dog’s body language and act accordingly. Take a swift and wise decision to keep yourself and your dog safe.

Also Read:

  1. How to Stop Dog from Pulling on a Leash?
  2. How to Train a Dog to Walk on a Leash Beside You?
  3. How to Get a Stubborn Dog to Walk On a Leash?
  4. The Least Effective Method To Retrieve A Dog That Has Got Off-Leash
  5. DIY Dog Leashes


  1. Managing Confrontation With an Off-Leash Dog – VetStreet [1]
  2. Off-Leash Training for Dogs – VCAhospitals [2]
  3. Dog Walking 101 – Pet WebMD [3]