The clicker is a very effective training tool, that when conditioned with a reward like food, a treat or a toy signals to your puppy that he has done something right. The clicking sound becomes synonymous with the reward/treat once training has begun. However, your puppy has to be taught that the clicker means something and clicking alone is not reinforcing anything.
As the unleashed dog comes at you, push the button and unleash the umbrella. We aren’t trying to hurt the dog – we are trying to but a barrier between your leashed dog and the outlaw dog. Be aware that if you use an umbrella, throw meat at the oncoming off-leash dog, or use a citronella spray, you are in a way escalating a bad situation. Or, it’s more accurate to say that you are being put in a position that may escalate because of the other owner’s irresponsibility. I’ve had two clients get into fistfights with other owners after spraying an oncoming dog with citronella. On the other hand, we have to protect our dogs. If you use a defensive move, do so carefully cautiously and as a last resort and understand that it might cause more human strife.
Throw a meat treat in the direction of the oncoming dog, turn on your heels, and walk away. I cannot even count the number of dog owners who are shocked that as their dog is being harassed by the off-leash dog, the owner of stands there, saying nothing, and doesn’t help to put an end to the situation. If another person is walking with you, ask them to attempt to catch the oncoming dog as you leave the scene (you have to decide in an instant if that would be a safe maneuver or not because breaking up a dog fight is an excellent way to get bitten).
The truth is: If it is the law and you allow your dog off leash, you are breaking a law. In a civilized society, members do not simply pick and choose which laws apply to them. I repeat this mantra: It does not matter that you perceive your dog to “be friendly” or that “he loves other dogs.” It does not matter because the dog you have no voice control over is hurling himself into the faces of dogs who very well may NOT be friendly to other dogs. Your dog galloping right up to a leashed dog is rude canine behavior, even if you are running behind your dog screaming: “Don’t worry! He’s friendly!!” You endanger your own dog and all those you allow him to terrorize or bother.
About the author: Annie Phenix, CPDT-KA, is a force-free professional dog trainer enjoying her mountain-filled life in Colorado. She is a member of the Pet Professional Guild and the National Association of Canine Scent Work. She takes her highly trained dogs with them everywhere dogs are welcome because of their exceptionally good manners. Join Annie on her dog-training Facebook page.
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