What if an Off-Leash Dog Approaches You While You Are Walking a Dog

Dog fights often occur when two unleashed dogs get in contact. Another case would be an off-leashed dog attacking a leashed dog. So what do you do if an off-leash dog approaches you while you are walking a dog? One thing you could do is to block the approaching dog’s way. You can also say a firm ‘Go Home!’ to distract the dog.

How to handle an approaching off-leashed dog

While walking your dog, you must be watchful of the surroundings. This way, you can act fast before a dog fights occurs. Here’s what you can do:

  • Stay focused on your doggo

Once you spot an off-leashed dog approaching your direction, don’t panic. Focus on your dog and read the two dogs’ body language. If any of the dogs bares its teeth, growls, tucks its tail, or becomes alert, you should act right away. However, if the two dogs have a wagging tail, relaxed ears, and happy disposition, you might be dealing with a playful pooch.

Remember that you don’t have control over the off-leashed dog, but you do have with your pet.

  • Make the ‘stop’ gesture

Even before the off-leashed dog reaches your spot, hold your palm open to create a stopping gesture. Say a firm ‘no!” or ‘Go home!” to startle the dog and possibly drive it away.

Directing the dog vocally will help, but don’t yell or move threateningly. If you’re dealing with an unleashed and aggressive canine, such drastic move may only escalate the situation. Also, note that verbal redirection will only work for shy and unsure canines or those that have undergone obedience training.

  • Keep walking

Walking away will also help avoid the situation. While walking away, keep an eye on the other dog. If it continues to follow you around, stop, and do the first step. However, if the doggo doesn’t back off, you can do the next step. please read here what are some necessary tools for a dog walker to carry.

  • Look for a physical barrier

A physical barrier like a car, wall, gate, or fence can help block the off-leashed dog’s sight. This will shield your pooch from a possible dogfight or harm. It will create a blockage between the other canine and your dog. Most of the time, the unleashed dog will lose interest and walk away.

Take note that you shouldn’t pick up your dog and run away. This will only trigger the off-leashed dog and cause a dog attack. You should only pick up your pet if you have a spot where you can secure it away from the unleashed dog’s reach. If possible, find a way to get indoors.

  • Throw a treat

If the off-leashed dog continues to follow you and your dog while walking, you can throw a treat to send it away.

Make it a habit to bring meaty and smelly treats when walking your dog to prepare for such encounters. Also, by throwing a treat on the approaching dog’s direction, you will have time to walk away and cover more distance. Make sure that you throw the treat far enough while ensuring that the approaching dog saw that you did.

Most friendly and playful dogs will yield to a treat. Some aggressive canines may also fall for this technique, but you may need to throw several treats, especially if it’s a boisterous canine.

If the dog’s owner is around, giving a treat to an off-leashed dog will alert them. Many dog owners hate the idea of a stranger feeding their dog, which will encourage them to put their pets on a leash.

  • Get the owner’s attention

If the owner of the approaching dog is around, call them and bring the off-leashed canine to their attention. Be polite and explain that your dog doesn’t do well on new canines and can get quite nervous or aggressive with such an encounter. Most dog owners will understand this and won’t mind calling or leashing their pets.

If your dog isn’t used to mingling with new dogs just yet, it’s best to walk it inside a park where dogs are required to be leashed. This will save you from the hassle of avoiding an off-leashed canine.

  • Bring a large umbrella

In case you’re expecting off-leashed dogs around the area where you walk your dog, try to bring a large umbrella. Take note that this isn’t meant to be used for violence or hurting any dog. What you will do is to push the button to open the umbrella when an off-leashed dog is zooming in. This will startle the canine and send it running away. please read here how to stop dog from running away.

Consider this as your last resort, as some owners may misconstrue your tactic and accuse you of hurting their dog. Also, never use citronella sprays. My friend once figured in a fistfight with another dog owner when someone sprayed this to his pet.

How to safely break up a dog fight

In case your dog and the off-leashed canine got in a dog fight, you should know how to break it right away. Here’s what you should do:

  • Splash water on the two dogs. This will help distract the fight and allow you to pull your leashed dog away.
  • Ask the other owner to perform the wheelbarrow method with you. This involves pulling the hind legs of the two dogs at the same time to pull them away without hurting anyone.
  • Try pulling your dog’s collar to get it away from the other canine.
  • Never use your body as the shield against the fighting dogs. You will only sustain injuries and not break the fight. please read here how to safely break up a dog fight.
  • Don’t grab any of the dogs by the tail; it will only vent its anger on you.

If your dog is untrained and aggressive, you should never take it for a walk. It will only hurt off-leashed dogs and put you in trouble. Also, you must spot tell-tale signs of a looming dog fight so you can prevent it before it happens.

After bringing your dog away from the off-leashed dog, calm it down to prevent further aggression. Check for any injuries and end the walk so your doggo can rest.

Can you walk a dog without a leash?

Most localities require that a dog be leashed while walking in public, regardless of the breed. It’s for the safety of the people around as well as the canine itself. There are some off-leash dog parks that allow dogs to run free, but only within its gated spaces. Also, owners are expected to look after their dog and break up fights when it occurs.

You should always check the laws and regulations of your locality when it comes to bringing a dog in public with or without a leash.

But with or without such restrictions, a responsible dog owner will always leash their dogs in public. This is also for the protection of the canine against traffic. No matter how trained your dog is, it can still chase after something that hooked its interest.

What is the best method to retrieve a dog that has gotten off-leash?

If your dog got off the leash accidentally, never run after it. Running and calling its name would only make the pooch sprint away, thinking that you’re playing chase with it. Also, some dogs feel that they will be punished once you caught them after a high-speed chase.

The best way to get your dog back is to lure it with a ball or some smelly treats. Once your pooch returned, put them back on the leash and praise it. This will train your dog to know that coming back after zooming off will earn them a reward.


What do you do if an off-leash dog approaches you while you are walking a dog? Keep calm and try to distract the unleashed dog so you can away walk away with your pet. You can also use some treats as a diversion so you can buy time to seek a safer space. Above all, you must get the attention of the off-leashed dog’s owner to raise your concern politely.