We walk a lot of dogs that are not friendly towards other dogs, you never know if the dog coming your way is going to be kind. The fact is that many dogs go to dog daycare, unless they do not get along with the other dogs there, in which case we end up walking them.
Wet Noses Pet Sitters also walk a lot of dogs that are super friendly and would love to play with every dog we encounter. We still never know how the other dog is going to react or how the two will get along. It is our primary responsibility to keep our charge safe so we have a very strict rule:
Whenever possible we do not allow our client’s dogs to associate with other dogs. Period.
So what do we do when you spot another dog coming that is off leash?
First we evaluate the situation to see how concerned we should be. Is our dog friendly with other dogs? Does the approaching dog look friendly? Is the owner of the other dog present? If the answer to any of these is no then we are starting to look at options to prevent the dogs from coming into contact.
From here we are going to assume that we feel the need to stop this encounter because we believe it will result in a dog fight. So what now?
We bring our dog in close to us and we yell at the other dog at the top of our lungs.
“No! No! Go Home! Get Away!” We make ourselves look big and threatening and really “unfun” to be around. Hopefully the dog decides to go another way.
Call for the owner of the other dog if you can spot them.
We yell “My dog hates other dogs! My dog bites!” This will encourage even the most lazy or unconcerned dog owner to try to collect their dog. It does not matter if my dog is the biggest teddy bear and would not hurt a fly.
If the dog keeps coming then the next step depends on our dog.
For little dogs, this is the time to just scoop up the dog and move away. If our dog is big and friendly then we try to shuffle away from the other dog, keeping ourselves between them. If our dog is big and not dog friendly then putting ourselves between the dogs can put us in danger.
When these two dogs are bound to meet and there is nothing we can do about it then we loosen the leash, or drop it if needed, and put on our most friendly voice.
“Hello sweet puppies, don’t you both want to be the best of friends?” A happy voice goes a long way to diffusing a situation. So why loosen the leash? Most of dog communication is done via body language and if I am tugging on the leash I am making my dog more tense and messing up their communication. No need for a dog fight because of a miscommunication. Worst case scenario there is a fight and I do not want my dog to be impeded by a leash. The truth is many dog fights end with just a scuffle and no actual damage, even if it sounds terrible.
If there is a dog fight we do our best to safely break it up.
We do not reach into a fight as that is the best way to get bit. We use items to put in between them or if the fight is one sided we distract the aggressor. Breaking up a dog fight is a blog in and of itself!
Thankfully we very rarely end up with a fight on our hands. Usually by going through the first few steps we manage to avoid any problems. If a problem does arise we are prepared and know exactly what to do!