So, what do you do when you're surrounded by off-leash dogs?

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So, what do you do when you're surrounded by off-leash dogs?

Postby Calypso » Thu Sep 11, 2014 2:24 pm

Today was just a bizarre day. I was walking just before 6am and by 6:30am we'd been rushed by 4 off leash dogs. One was supposed to be on leash between the parking lot and the dog park and the owner couldn't be bothered...even though I was RIGHT there before he opened the door. That one we've been able to practice enough, and the dog listened relatively well to the owner (after he got about 10 feet away), so we got out of there with a minimum of fuss.

The other 3 I saw happening and I could not stop it. I've never had a problem with him before - his dogs are off leash but they've always listened well. He sets up a few hunt/retrieval exercises on the soccer field, works his dogs, and they're gone in 20 minutes or less. We've walked by and they haven't done more than looked our way.

For some reason today he let the 3 dogs out before he set up. I saw the middle dog - maybe 2-3 - head to a popular pee spot to sniff, so I cut through the field in order to not walk right next to him. I saw the oldest dog, at least 4 or 5, roaming the parking lot and I thought "as long as the puppy isn't loose, we'll probably be ok". As I thought it, the puppy (about 6-7 months) comes around the equipment shed and runs for us. This gets the middle dog's attention and then the oldest dog came to check it out. Pixel was not happy. Up until this point, Pixel was used to them enough that he could walk past them working or in their crates in the truck and never say anything about it.

With all 3 dogs, I couldn't body block them away from Pixel, and I knew if he snarked at one and that dog snarked back, at least one other dog would get involved and I'd be totally unable to protect 17 lb Pixel against two 60 lb dogs. So I scooped him up and shouted "Call your dogs!" The guy had no clue any of this was going on. He called and I was shocked they didn't head back because they listen so well...until I realized I had freeze dried tripe in my bait bag and no self-respecting Lab will leave tripe just because someone called them. So I've got Pixel in my arms and the dogs are alternating between jumping to get him and mauling my bait bag. THIS IS 6:30 AM ON A QUIET BIKE TRAIL! It's also 45F - why are all of these people interfering with my walk?!

To Pixel's credit, he kept himself together pretty well. He was growling (as was I) but he wasn't batshit. And once the dogs had been called away I set him down and he gave them a few hard looks and growled - maybe a bark or two - but he settled down sooner than I thought he would.

Hopefully that will never happen again, but if it does, is there anything else I can do? I've worked so hard to have body block be my default, but that just didn't seem safe. I supposed I could have thrown my bait bag away, but it took me awhile to figure out that was the lure. And I had squirming, upset Pixel and I didn't want to drop him. Throwing myself on top of Pixel would be an option and it might have been ok here since I'm 99% sure these dogs are marshmallows, but in a more aggressive situation, I've just squished my dog and exposed the back of my neck to aroused dogs. I don't want to carry Direct Stop and be "aggressive" enough to spray off leash dogs, especially if I one day start a business in town. I don't want to have that negative image, but I guess having it in an emergency would be good.

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Re: So, what do you do when you're surrounded by off-leash d

Postby emmas_mom » Thu Sep 11, 2014 5:01 pm

I've only had that situation with unleashed dogs one at a time, but they were always fairly large dogs that were unknown to me. Quite by chance I came across a solution that has worked every single time I've utilized it - at least half a dozen times now. As soon as I see the unleashed dog headed my way, I make myself as tall and big as possible, hold out my free arm (the one not holding my dog's leash) straight ahead of me with hand up and palm outward, and in the deepest, loudest voice I can muster, shout "STOP!". I have no idea what made me try it the first time, but I'm glad I did - each time I've used it, the dog stops on a dime, exhibits anxious eye averting and lip licking behaviour, and if I stand my ground will eventually retreat even if the owner is being a jerk and not calling him. Of course, my dogs aren't reactive - not sure how it would work if my own dog was lunging on the leash with teeth gnashing. However, it has worked even when Excitable Eddie is doing his debarked barking at them.
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Re: So, what do you do when you're surrounded by off-leash d

Postby Calypso » Thu Sep 11, 2014 6:18 pm

I'll have to try that. I've got a pretty powerful angry Mom voice that definitely makes softer dogs stop and think. And it would certainly get the stupid human's attention. With the Labs I did finally say "Go on. Go away!" but it was mostly frustrated and not my Angry Mom Voice.

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Re: So, what do you do when you're surrounded by off-leash d

Postby UpwardDog » Thu Sep 11, 2014 6:39 pm

That SUCKS.
Personally, I think spraying Direct Stop is just fine in a situation like that especially if you spray it in the direction of dogs when they are approaching, not right in their faces. I haven't used it, but I like having it tucked into my bait bag. I would still have Tricky hop behind me so I can used my body presence and because he tucking behind sends an "I''m Not interested in greeting you" message to the dogs. I feel like trick feels safest right behind but almost standing in between. her up in my arms with dogs that are as tall as labs makes her far more vulnerable and right at face height. (I'm a short legged 5'4")

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Re: So, what do you do when you're surrounded by off-leash d

Postby UpwardDog » Thu Sep 11, 2014 6:41 pm

I forgot to say that I have also had luck with just doing a super fast turn and go /GTFO move,either lateral distance or what ever direction I can best avoid them. This has worked not because a dog couldn't catch us, but because a fair number will take the hint that we are NOT interested, not fun and they'll choose to find something else to do.

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Re: So, what do you do when you're surrounded by off-leash d

Postby Calypso » Thu Sep 11, 2014 7:32 pm

With the first dog we encountered, I think the fact that we kept on walking as best we could made a difference in how long she followed up. But a determined Lab is enough of a clueless butt head (said with all the love a former Lab owner can manage *sniff*) that nothing subtle will get through. I did try my best to walk, but it was just soooooo much for them. I'm sure they hadn't eaten in like 30 minutes at least, so the smell of treats was just enough to short circuit their brains.

I've got to find some Direct Stop, I guess. I could also carry an umbrella to pop open once Pixel gets used to the idea so it doesn't scare him, but they get annoyingly heavy after a time.

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Re: So, what do you do when you're surrounded by off-leash d

Postby QBert » Fri Sep 12, 2014 4:16 am

I have a few tools in my arsenal. I often have a dressage whip in hand, it weighs almost nothing and I have a clip on it so I can hang it off a belt loop. It extends my reach and makes a weird swishy-whistley noise if you wave it rapidly in an encroaching dog's face. I usually have plenty of food in my pockets, and am happy to fling handfuls if I think I can distract a nuisance dog that way. (nope, I don't feel bad about it, either; if your pet has significant diet restrictions, put a leash on it!) I almost always have a spare slip lead, and have (and will again) leashed up loose dogs and marched them back to their absentee handlers, if they're not overtly aggressive and just being pesty. I've tied 'em up, too, a few times, after knotting the lead so it couldn't tighten, and ensuring that the people in direct line-of-sight were in fact supposed to be responsible for the critter.

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Re: So, what do you do when you're surrounded by off-leash d

Postby connie » Fri Sep 12, 2014 4:50 am

I have an Irish blackthorne walking stick that I usually carry with me on walks. It makes a nice addition to my Threatening posture when necessary. :wink:

That said, none of my dogs that I'm walking are dog-reactive, and in fact all are quite dog-friendly; and the off-leash dogs we meet in my neighborhood are 99.9% of the time someone's pet from a house nearby. They do respond to authoritative "get back!" commands and although they manage to meet and greet my dogs, there's not any harm done. I really only worry if I see a nasty-looking dog that I don't know -- a GSD or a pit, since I trust those breeds not at all (sorry, color me prejudiced). But just loose dogs bopping up to us, I try to not get too annoyed, since that will stress my dogs more than anything; I keep my dogs moving, and I tell the interlopers to 'go home now!' as we depart. And I have my walking stick to convey my suggestions more clearly.

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Re: So, what do you do when you're surrounded by off-leash d

Postby UpwardDog » Fri Sep 12, 2014 7:49 am

I know lots of people throw food and I understand the purpose, but I think it's shooting yourself in the foot because if the owner is a distance away and clueless, I might have them even more apt to follow and odds are I'll see those dogs again and they'll really make a beeline to the lady who throws food.

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Re: So, what do you do when you're surrounded by off-leash d

Postby UpwardDog » Fri Sep 12, 2014 7:50 am

I have thought about carrying a small but great shooting water gun, have also thought about and old crappy tennis ball or some toy I don't care if I see again

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Re: So, what do you do when you're surrounded by off-leash d

Postby connie » Fri Sep 12, 2014 12:30 pm

I would never ever throw food b/c my own dogs would go for it, and I'd have a major brouhaha on my hands -- or on my leashes. It would escalate the situation big-time. Plus, if any of the visiting dogs are food-aggressive, I've created a worse situation than the original one; and yeah, I know people should keep their dogs confined, but they don't always manage to do it. As I said in my other post, the dogs I encounter are somebody's family dogs, not ravenous and undersocialized junkyard dogs. I try to respond accordingly. (::Goes off to polish up her halo:: :tongue: )

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Re: So, what do you do when you're surrounded by off-leash d

Postby QBert » Sat Sep 13, 2014 6:15 am

Manna-from-heaven is not my first choice but is a possibility. Depends on the circumstances. I've done it and bought the time and space to get to sanctuary. No water pistol for me. Tried that and ended up looking like I wet my pants when it leaked.

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Re: So, what do you do when you're surrounded by off-leash d

Postby UpwardDog » Sat Sep 13, 2014 9:48 am

I encounter all kinds of dogs--the friendly but space and body insensitive labs and doodles, to dogs who are not safe and shouldn't be off leash at all. I also like having Direct stop on hand in case we were to encounter a bold and curious coyote.
How I choose to respond depends on which dog I have with me and how many. It also depends on my mood.

I haven't tried the water gun for that reason- they all seem to leak. That's fine when you're playing kid games in the yard, no so good if it's in your dog walking bag/purse or pocket. A non leaking water gun with a drop of lemon juice would probably be just as effective as Direct stop, a fraction of the price and less likely to receive an angry reaction from other dog owners. My other problem with that idea is much of my year it would be frozen lol

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Re: So, what do you do when you're surrounded by off-leash d

Postby UpwardDog » Sat Sep 13, 2014 10:03 am

I forgot to say--I think having a few behaviours you can use and training for them so they have a really positive association is a must if you have a dog who is concerned about other dogs. Having a really fast fluent "let's go!" u-turn and brisk get away and a fast and fluent 'get and stay behind me as i move' behaviour will get you out of a lot of situations but they need to be fast, fluent and have that positive CER if they're going to work well in stressful situations.
Emma Parsons teaches dogs who have trouble with loose dogs a 'get behind' behaviour but she has the dog facing 90 degrees different from you so the are able to be basically right against a wall with you in front. She found that really handy for her dog for agility / rally/ OB class situations where a dog in class might go on a run away and run at her dog and she has easy access to a wall to use to block the back side of her dog. I have preferred to have Tricky basically with her head between my knees.

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Re: So, what do you do when you're surrounded by off-leash d

Postby KatrinH » Sat Sep 13, 2014 7:52 pm

Oh this is just what I need. I cannot even count the times I encountered off-leash dogs, it has been too often. And so far most of them with absolute irresponsible owners and dogs that do not listen. NO fun with a dog that is reactive...so, I think I need to start trying some of these things. I usually yell the moment I see an off leash dog to the owner to call their dog, but most of the times their dog doesn't listen. I try body blocking, but Ranger is the kind of dog that "attacks/goes for it" if he is unsure, so sometimes that does not work, if the other dog is all over him. Although he is starting to really focus more on me and learning that he can trust that I will handle the situation. I also walk away if I can. I think I will need to get that direct stop spray too in emergencies (e.g. the one time Ranger and me got harrassed by 2 huge huskies and a german shepherd, none of which listened and circled around us with pretty much no escape route).

It is so frustrating.


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