Since that article ran in June, three dogs who have graduated from my Growly Dog class have been attacked by off-leash dogs. My clients work hard to calm their dog’s anxiety when they see other dogs (which often stems from being attacked the very first time by a rude, off-leash dog!). We help these over-anxious dogs learn to trust their handler, and we rebuild their faith that they can walk safely in their own neighborhood. We make significant progress in keeping these dogs calm and focused on their owners instead of hyper-vigilantly scanning for dangers . . . such as an off-leash dog. In some of these cases, the unleashed dog owner was held responsible and now must pay fines in addition to medical bills; one of my clients ended up having an $8,000 hand surgery after breaking up a dog fight. I have enough stories like that to fill up a very long, pathetic book.
In a critical situation, don’t try to reason with the unreasonable human who allowed their dog to come into your dog’s space. By allowing their dog to be unleashed where leashes are required, that owner has by default demonstrated a lack of concern for his own dog and yours. You may feel like screaming obscenities for their lack of care, but that wastes both emotion and time. It can also ramp the dogs up even more.
Keep moving on a walk instead of stopping and chatting with others. While you and the other person are smiling and looking at each other, your dogs may be sending signals to one another that they are uncomfortable. Keep moving and stay focused on your dog’s body language. If your dog stiffens, growls, starts randomly sniffing or scratching, or you can see his hackles (among other warning signs that your dog is getting uncomfortable), do a U-turn and put something visual between you and the trigger upsetting your dog.
A retractable dog leash is a great choice for well-behaved dogs who want a bit more freedom to explore. The TaoTronics retractable dog leash expands to 16 feet, perfect for giving Fido more room to smell the roses, while still giving you control. With the push of a button, you can lock the leash to keep it at a safe distance. It’s best for dogs up to 115 lbs, and is made from durable nylon so it won’t get tangled like some of its competitors.
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.
I recommend that you begin teaching your dog how to sit and stay prior to beginning any leash training! Having a reliable sit and stay will enable you to ask for this command if your pup starts pulling on the leash. This will help you refocus his attention and help him get back to your side! It is also safer to have a dog that has a reliable sit and stay, so that you are not pulled out into traffic while walking together! Leash training, like all dog training, requires immense amounts of patience on both your parts! But, the payoff will be a well-trained dog that all of your friends envy, and builds a relationship of love and trust! So, grab your clicker and a pocket full of treats and get out there! Have some fun together while learning valuable skills! When your dog has mastered leash walking check out loose leash training!
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