Another Day, Another Off-Leash Dog

running dog

In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you.
- Deepak Chopra

Let’s get something clear: your dog needs to stay on-leash in public spots. I don’t care how friendly Fido is, or how much Schutz you’ve put in your hund.  Training only takes you so far.  Your dog is still capable of ignoring your recall command.

You never know who may have a dog-reactive dog. Your dog may be bounding recklessly towards another dog who is more than willing to show them that your dog’s behavior is unsavory. It’s stressful to everyone involved.  And if you think it’s okay because your dog is friendly, and likes to meet other dogs, well guess what?  Not every other dog thinks your dog is adorable. You are blatantly wagering your ability to control your dog against the safety of not only the other dog, but the safety of the other person who is actually holding a leash. You know… the part you’re supposed to be holding as well?

See how easy it is to hold it?  There's even a nifty little loop for your hand!

See how easy it is to hold it? There’s even a nifty little loop for your hand!

Hell, at this point, I guarantee that not every human thinks your dog is cute.  I know it’s hard to believe, but it’s true.  Not everyone wishes to get up close and personal with your beloved little Fifi.  You are proving nothing but your ability to be obtuse.

Now, for those of you subjected to off-leash dogs, here’s some hints:

- If someone calls out that, “It’s okay, their dog is friendly!” I like to call out that my dog is NOT friendly…and neither am I. Make sure your body language is speaking the same words your mouth is: confidence.

Confidence is key

Confidence is key

- Pilot  your own dog. It’s up to you to handle whatever comes at you, even if it means faking your way through self-confidence. Go ahead and be scared, but act confident.  The show must go on. Control yourself.

- Do whatever it takes to keep your dog safe.  I don’t care if it’s an old Lab, if you need to make them back off of you, and you feel safe doing so, make them move!

- Scream.  Yes, scream.  Loud as you can.  That will get the owner’s attention.  As well as anyone else’s, which may be important if things go badly with the other dog.  You may need help.

- Drop the leash. If you have a dog running at you who is definitely not part of the welcome wagon sometimes the safest thing to do is to let your dog try to run away without you getting tangled up in the mess.  Leashes can get wrapped around you very easily, ensnaring and trapping both you and your dog, subjecting you both to a vicious bite.

- Finally, report. Even if your dog responded well to the approaching dog, the next one may not.  All dogs respond differently to each other.  By you reporting the dog, you may have saved that dog’s life. Because the next time he goes charging at another dog could be his last.

In short, if a dog comes running at you hell bent for leath-ah, make sure you have a game plan in mind.

Yeah, I know you’re too young to know this song, but here ya go.

For more detailed information on how to make sure you are controlling your own dog on a walk, visit this link:

- Leash walking

How to deal with your dog-reactive dog on a leash, read this link:

- Dog Reactivity

Finally, step-by-step how to deal with an off-leash dog:

- When an off-leash dog attacks

What to do in a dog attack

Have you ever been subjected to an off-leash dog charging at you? What did you do?

Keep calm and pilot on

Kerry Stack
Darwin Dogs
Dog Training in Cleveland, Ohio





That Aggressive Dog



Courage is knowing what not to fear.

- Plato

I received a desperate call from a client the other day.  His dog was aggressive.  The dog in question (King) had already bitten someone…rather badly.  I have since worked with King, and the transformation was immediate and complete.  They were merely lacking communication.  King had been asking his owners so many questions, but had never received answers.

Is the mail carrier a threat?

Do I have to defend the house from everyone who comes in?

Should I bite the neighbors?

And most importantly:

Will you protect me?

I have long maintained that there is no such thing as an “aggressive” dog.  Dogs that bite, yes, but dogs are never aggressive; they are defensive.  And that is a huge difference.  Dogs only react to the situations they are put in, and their perception of a situation might be completely different than yours.  While you may see your aunt like this:


Your dog may see your this type of “aunt”.

No Spoilers #handmaidstale

No Spoilers #handmaidstale

That’s why communication is important.  Learn how to communicate with your dog so you never have to worry about the word “aggressive” being associated with your dog. Read more here.

Oh, and King?  He’s doing fine.  I saw him today, where he met new people (without biting them! A first!!!) and went for his first walk in the park (without vacillating between cowering and lunging at people!).  In two hours, he went from terrified to trusting.  From foe to friend.  All because his owners were willing to listen to what he was trying to tell them.

If you are enduring aggressive behaviors from your dog, and are interested in making an appointment, learn more here.

Keep calm and pilot on

Kerry Stack
Darwin Dogs
Dog Training in Cleveland, Ohio