We have a lovely puppy. He's 4 months old now, a sweet little guy, learning to get on with the kids and behave himself. I am training him with positive reinforcement, and he is learning so much. We adore having him, but I have one issue that I did not bet on when we got him, and that is off-leash dogs. I am quite frightened of large dogs I don't know approaching me in any fashion, and now that we have a puppy we are dog-magnets when out on daily walks with him and the kids. I don't know what to do with these off-leash dogs roaming around. Of the many, many we have seen only one approached us in a friendly way. My puppy is not frightened, his tail is wagging and he just wants to make friends, but *I* am super frightened, especially with my kids with me. I keep running through what I will do if one actually attacks... sadly, with my children with me that would mean letting go of my puppy and moving myself and the children to safety. I am so afraid of this eventuality that I am now thinking of re-homing him. I have recently purchased citronella spray, but aside from making a u-turn when I see a loose dog and praying it eventually looses interest (which has worked thankfully so far) I am at a loss of what to do. Any suggestions? Thank you!
Advice about our puppy
I'm sorry you have to deal with that. Strange dogs also make me uncomfortable. Do you live somewhere where off leash dogs are allowed? I might call animal control. Are their owners around?
I generally do NOT like strange dogs to greet my dogs. For one thing, I don't want my dog to learn that they can greet strange dogs whenever they like. And leashes mess up the normal meet and greet for dogs, so things can quickly go wrong. If an owner says, "Oh, my dog is nice, they can say hi," as they're pulling towards me, I normally say, "She cannot greet on leash." Sometimes I say she's a puppy and still jumps on dogs and that's not fair for their dog.
It's really important to realize that your nervousness can influence how your dog feels. If he thinks there is something to worry about, he will! Really focus on not tightening the leash and try to be relaxed.
I would consider purchasing something stronger (some people use bear spray), while others take a big stick with them. The one negative about something stronger would be that it could spray on you. The best line of defense though, that you mention, is going in the other direction like you mentioned.
You say that the dogs have not approached in friendly ways. What have they done? Sometimes what humans think is bad behavior is really appropriate.
My reply is a bit all over the place, but I hope it is helpful!
When she was smaller and we were surprised by a few off leash dogs, there were a few times where I picked her up and walked away! This is when the owner was nearby.
Where do you walk that has so many off-leash dogs?? We have been approached a few times by a dog that has gotten loose in the neighborhood and to be honest that scares me too because one of my dogs is 65 pounds and not friendly to strange dogs--she fights and goes for the throat! There isn't much you can do other than try to get away. I drug my dog in a random backyard and closed the gate when it happened to us. Carrying some kind of spray is a great idea!