Thursday, August 23, 2012

Off-Leash Dogs Are Crampin' My Style

I am sick of off-leash dogs.  It seems that many of the neighborhood dog owners just really don't care if their dog gets out and chases a pitbull down the street.  Only one of these off-leash dogs has been larger than Athena, so I worried for her safety during the encounter (the dog went in for a neck bite).  All of the other off-leash dogs that have approached us have been small dogs, so in these cases I worry about Athena possibly turning aggressive and injuring the dog.  We don't need to be in the news for owning a pitbull that attacked a stupid helpless small dog.
Every time we take Athena on a walk, we encounter at least one off-leash dog.  About half of the dogs that have chased after us haven't had an owner anywhere in sight.  The ones who do have owners present don't seem to really care that their owner is screaming their name to stop chasing after us.

Maybe I wouldn't mind so much if Athena wasn't so leash reactive.  But when a dog comes running after us, Athena starts hopping off of the ground trying to play.  I really don't want her to play with an unknown dog that approaches us, especially when the off-leash dog goes in and tries to bite her (this has happened to us twice now)!  We have only had Athena for one month so I don't feel like we totally know all of her behaviors.  We don't know if certain situations will bring out any aggression.  The owners who adopted Athena for two weeks prior to us labeled her as "dog aggressive" towards their other pet dog.  This makes us cautious of her interactions with other dogs.

I want Athena to learn how to be calm when we walk by other dogs who are on or off leash.  I feel like her excited energy gets the other dog excited an then they are both trying to get to each other.  I think that most off-leash dogs actually approach us because of Athena's body language when she encounters another dog.
We would love it if Athena could be calm like this when walking by an off-leash dog!
The bloggers over at Two Pitties in the City have mentioned in multiple posts that they carry SprayShield Animal Deterrent Spray in case they are approached by an off-leash aggressive dog.  I think that it's about time that I order a can of this spray to carry with me on walks.  The only thing that I worry about is if I would even be able to get to the spray in time if an off-leash dog did a sneak attack and riled Athena up.  I checked at Petco and Petsmart and both stores said that they don't carry any type of dog deterrent spray...the employees actually looked at me like I was a mean person when I asked if they sold it.
We are looking for some suggestions.  How do you deal with off-leash dogs?  Is your dog leash-reactive especially when approached by an off-leash dog?  We could use some help!

-A

12 comments:

  1. If we see an off-leash dog in our vicinity, we turn around and walk the other direction. If Daniel is with me, he will run interference. I have had several run-ins with off-leash dogs that have been absolutely terrifying. I'd say definitely get the spray shield. I think I am going to for when I am on my own.

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    1. Emily - I tried the turn around and walk away strategy the last time that we saw an off-leash dog, but I was walking Athena on my own. I got her to lose interest in the dog, but all of a sudden the dog came chasing after us! It was pretty scary because the dog came and nipped at Athena's neck and then Athena did her thing where she pulls and lunges. I think I need to get the spray shield for when I'm on my own too. I have only had trouble with off-leash dogs when I'm walking Athena on my own. Whenever B and I walk Athena together we are always successful at distracting Athena or the off-leash dog.

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  2. I hear these awful stories about dogs being attacked, so I do carry the direct-stop. And at the risk of sounding like a crazy person, I also have bear spray that we bring on our group walks (some of the places we walk are in areas where I think people leave their dogs to roam on their own and it's just in case...). Luckily our dogs aren't reactive, but they definitely do pull, jump and tangle me up if a dog runs towards them. One of our Sociabulls friends also wrote this really good post about walking with a reactive dog: http://pittiesincity.blogspot.com/2011/11/city-dog-managing-leash-reactive-dog-in.html

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    1. Thank you so much for sharing the post about Maize's leash reactivity! Her owner gave some great advice that I haven't heard or read about in other places. I have actually been thinking a lot lately about how I want to soon join the Portland Pit Bull parade which is much like Sociabulls. It sounds like Maize really benefits from the experiences of being with a group of dogs to build her confidence-- this is what we would like for Athena!

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  3. It’s very important that a dog has a leash, most especially if you’ll take the dog for a walk. No matter how calm your dog is, you must still keep your pet from biting people, or other dogs. If at home, make sure you keep the gate closed to keep them from going outside. On the other hand, you may use a pet anchoring system to keep the dog close to you when you’re having a family picnic outside.

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  5. Training dog for a leash is one of the most important factor which most of pet owners forget.

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