How do I deal with loose dogs that want to approach my dog when I’m walking him? Many of them cause problems, and some have even attacked my dog.
Loose, untrained dogs can be a real problem, but there is a way you can deal with these dogs that is very effective most of the time. Yell “HEY!!! NO!!!” very loudly and aggressively at the approaching loose dog (and repeatedly if necessary). You can even lunge forward with your body, taking a couple of steps toward him, so your voice is backed up by your body language. I call this my “Bigger Dog” technique.
When you position yourself as the “bigger” dog of the group (i.e. between yourself, your dog, and the approaching dog), the loose dog will invariably back off. He will think you’re willing to back up your verbal assertion of dominance with something physical, and he will be subdued by your threat. If the loose dog is not backing off then your threats are not sufficiently discouraging. In this case, you need to increase the volume of your voice and be more assertive with your body language. As long as the level of your dominant communication exceeds the level at which the loose dog perceives itself, you will “win” the battle.
I share this same advice with runners, bicyclists, etc. and it works very well in most instances. Of course, there’s no guarantee, so I’m not giving one. However, it is your best option. My wife can attest to this as she’s a runner and my “Bigger Dog” technique has saved her from many a potential dog attack.
Now, if your own dog starts to show any signs of aggression (e.g. growling, snarling, lunging, barking, etc.) at any time as a loose dog approaches, you must correct for this (as per my Perfect Dog DVDs). Your goal is to teach your dog to always defer to you as his leader. You want him to accept that aggressive retaliation is never acceptable and that you’ll deal with all situations as you see fit.
There’s another benefit to teaching your dog that aggressive behavior is never acceptable: When you teach your dog not to retaliate but, rather, give off submissive signals in potentially dangerous situations, you will minimize the possibility of a loose dog wanting to exercise physical dominance over your dog. The loose dog will sense submissiveness from your dog and he will most likely be satisfied with this. The loose dog will not feel compelled to “up” his game in order to subdue your dog (because your dog will already be subdued).
Take care, and be prepared. – Don Sullivan