What to do if a dog off-leash approaches you ?

What to do if a dog off-leash approaches you while you’re walking a dog?

Well, we have many things to discuss before we get to that question. Don’t fidget, we’ll give you a thorough answer real soon right in this post!

There is legislation saying that you should always keep your dog on leash for numerous reasons, regarding your own dog’s safety and other individuals’ wellbeing. Walking a dog off-leash can pose an unexpected hazard to your fellow dog owners and their pets, no matter how well-trained your pet dog is. The underlying reasons for this are listed below. 

It may baffle some people as to why there are dogs allowed to run freely without any leash attached to their necks. The owners of those dogs have their own opinions and logic, but after all we still believe that the motives aren’t strong enough.


Why do some people prefer to walk their dog off-leash?

First and foremost, we firmly believe that those dog owners think they have everything under control and that their dogs are trained to act fine. However, bad things can happen out of the blue and even the best service dogs can become aggressive and attack people and other animals. 

Some individuals even describe those walking their dogs without a leash as ‘arrogant’. They are deemed irresponsible as they think as long as they walk with their pet dogs, nothing horrible can take place and that only bad trainers let things go out of control. It’s not that right. Some dogs’ instinct is to run after anything that moves that is humans and animals. Therefore, keeping a dog on-leash for days and suddenly releasing him to nature may result in tragic accidents.

Another reason leading to people’s decision to let off their dogs’ leash is for the sake of their pets. Leash can hurt a dog’s neck if it is set too tight or the leash is too short. In fact, usually dog owners give their dog long leash attachment and unbuckle it when at home to give dogs a break. So overall, leash cannot hurt your dog for long.

In England and some other countries there are rules about dog leash that residents must follow. Nevertheless, several dog owners still insist on letting their dogs run around freely, thinking that there would be no problems and end up paying a fine. Therefore, it’s always good to make sure the place you’re in is designated leash-free area and keep your dog under supervision to avoid any accident, and avoid being made to hand in fines!

What are the risks of letting dog off-leash?

It’s like you believe that your kid would never paint on your white walls again, but here she is, playing with her pencils and enthusiastically imagining herself as a professional painter. Training your dog to walk around in public places off-leash is just the same kind of job. There is no absolute guarantee that no risks would be involved. 

Actually, a whole lot of dangers are awaiting! 

# Human attack:

You may have heard or witnessed at least one accident caused by dog biting stranger since his owner lets him off the leash. ‘Oh he is just being friendly’, you can say while your dog is trying to jump onto the other person. Indeed, he can be a nice dog that greets people coming near him, but not everybody likes dogs and loves receiving enthusiastic hello from your pet (you cannot blame them for this!). 

Judging those people as distant and lacking in love for animals is not the right thing to do, so you’d better off have your dog on leash. That way, you can have a nice talk with the stranger and give him/her a chance to become friend with you and your dog.

#2 Animal attack:

When your dog catches sight of his fellow friend, what will he do? Ignore? Maybe. Run fast towards the other dog? Possibly. Well we all know there are 2 scenarios. Whatever you prefer, there is a 25% of danger in the latter situation. 


What if your dog doesn’t come to say hello, but come to stir up trouble and be ready for a fight? Although dogs are trained to be domestic animals, their wild traits can emerge when seeing another dog or cat. Having no leash in your hands to pull your dog back can result in a dog fighting in which both your pet and the other are seriously injured. In reverse, you would never want to witness your on-leash dog be bitten by another off-leash.

Not just cats and dogs are the victims but livestock and birds can be too. Farms and natural preserves are ideal places for your dog to unwind and mingle with nature, which is the reason why many people allow their dogs to go off-leash in these areas. Dogs may have no intention of frightening or startling chickens, sheep, ducks or little birds, but their over-excitement affects those farm animals in a negative way. Accidentally, dogs’ paws may step on small birds and kill them.

#3 External hazards:

The ability to tell if a plant is edible does not exist in dogs. Dogs are easily distracted and eager to see new things, especially little colorful things that swing on the ground. Thus, coming into a toxic plant and ingest it is possible in dogs, which can be prevented by keeping your dog under control with a leash.

Moreover, as hurtful as it sounds, there are dogs hit by a car and losing their lives in front of their owners’ eyes. Avoiding a dog on road is hard for car driver as he only catches sight of a dog running out once he gets close enough. No dog owner wants to witness that terrible accident happen to their dog, and it is part of your responsibility to keep him safe on-leash.

What to do when a dog off-leash approaches you while walking a dog?

We think that after considering the risks involved when letting a dog off-leash, you’ll decide for yourself whether to have a leash on your dog or not. It’s against the rule not to do so in many countries. 

So, in case you are enjoying a brisk walk with your dog, on-leash of course, a leash-free dog comes near you, what would you do? What would be the best reaction? Continue to read this post and we’ll give you some helpful answers!

# Suggestion No.1: Be prepared

The initial step is to train your dog with basic skills. Almost every dog is taught when to sit, stay still or to follow their owner and those activities prove to be helpful in many situations.

An off-leash dog has no restraint and there is nothing to pull them back so you and your dog should not panic when being approached since it can arouse the other dog. A calm leashed dog may deter the other from coming any closer and stirring up fights. Thus, dog sitting and staying still (while being alert as well) is counted as a solution.

# Suggestion No. 2: Stay calm and keep things under control

Some people choose to walk off fast since they are too scared and don’t know what else to do other than running. It is inadvisable to turn away fast cause it only arouses the other off-leash dog. He may see you as a threat to his own safety and starts to bark and chase after you and your dog. 


If you’re lucky enough to see a dog without leash approach you from afar, choose a different and safer route to continue your dog walk. Keep your dog’s attention fully on you and steer him towards another corner or road.

If you have no time to go away, one solution is to apply body blocking. That means standing between your dog and the other. Don’t let them communicate with each other as they may end up getting in a dog fight. However, it also depends on the posture and mood of the approaching dog.

  • Watch the way the dog without leash moves to catch his emotions and intentions. In case he stiffens up, mouth open showing his full teeth, eyes focused and squinting, ears turning backwards, he can be showing signs of aggressiveness and suspicion. Even worse, if he is barking at you and your dog deeply with his forelegs all lifting off the ground, you know it’s time for some preventive actions or else he might attack you.
  • In case you think the other dog is coming with a happy and friendly mood, it’s still risky to let your dog play with the other as yours may become defensive and distant, which leads the loose dog to think he is not liked and that your dog wants a fight.
  • There are several ways you can do to stop the dogs getting closer. As I said, use body blocking. If it fails, throw a fist of treats at the off-leash dog for distraction and take advantage of the time to walk your leashed dog away. 
  • Call the other dog’s owner. They may come in time to call their dog back and put an end to any fight or at least help you calm the other dog down. 

# Suggestion No.3: Always bring an umbrella or spray

Treats can work or fail sometimes as the off-leash dog can be so angry that no treat succeeds in distracting him. In that event, bring an umbrella with you whenever you go for a dog walk and open it to startle the aggressive dog. 

There are some risks involved though. Your dog may feel startled by the umbrella too if he hasn’t encountered this situation before. So practice with him at home first or he’ll run away, leading the other dog to run after. 

You can also resort to spray as the last option. It can stop dog fighting without really harming your dog and the leash-free dog.

# Suggestion No.4: Simply choose a safe dog route

You may think that your dog would have less fun going a different route, but prevention is better than cure. 

Consider taking your dog to safe areas like public parks where dog off-leash is not allowed to reduce the likelihood of running into a leash-free dog. Your dog can still have a lot of fun mingling with other dogs on leash.

Stories and sharing

A woman whom we call Susan (her name has been changed for privacy reason) was attacked by a dog off-leash since she tried to walk off when it approached her and her little puppy. Although she wasn’t seriously injured, she describes the event as ‘dangerous and fearful’ and she thinks that her fellow owner shouldn’t have let his dog run freely without a leash. 

Another woman had to hide her little dog in a trash can as a large loose dog came near her. Nothing happened to them, fortunately, but through those stories we know how dangerous it could be with a dog off-leash.

See more: Is yogurt good for dogs and the diet you should know


We are here not to criticize you for not having your dog leashed, but to inform you some information about why some people let their dogs off-leash and the danger of it, and how to react when being approached by a loose dog. 

WewPet wish that with the knowledge we share, you’ll know how to protect youself and your dog and to make sure your dog is on-leash when going outside.

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