I have to be honest, I have a very real fear of running into an aggressive dog while walking my dogs. For those who are new to my articles, I have three dogs: a 5-year old Weimaraner named Heath and two Dalmatians, Jackson, age 4, and Bennett, age 2.
I am a dog person. I love ALL dogs, so my immediate reaction when I see one is to say, “hey buddy, let’s be friends!” My dogs— especially Jackson—are no different. In his mind, every person and every dog he encounters is his friend!
When you really think about it, everyone gets a little irritated when they feel threatened or intimidated. And who can blame them? Well…dogs are no exception. “Aggression serves a purpose for dogs,” says Katherine Miller, PhD, ASPCA Director of Anti-Cruelty Behavior Research, “Dogs respond to real or perceived threats to their body, territory, or resources such as food or toys.”
That being said, my number one tip when going for a walk with your dog is to always be alert. While we live in a safe neighborhood, there are lots of dogs around, and even though we have met many of them, it is important to not get too comfortable. I don’t even wear headphones/air pods when I walk my dogs because I want to have all of my senses about me at all times.
The reality is that all dogs are capable of biting and showing aggression. According to the ASPCA, “it’s neither accurate nor wise to judge a dog by his/her breed. Far better predictors of aggressive behavior problems are a dog’s individual temperament.” While I have never had a bad experience with my three boys, I know that reactivity is real and as a responsible dog owner it is my obligation to protect not only my dogs, but the people and animals we encounter when out and about. In my opinion, biting has more to do with circumstances, behavior, training (or lack of training), and inexperience on the part of humans.
WHAT TO DO
Here are a few tips for what to do if you encounter an aggressive dog:
- If you notice a dog in a yard or one coming towards you who is barking or growling, if possible, cross the street to avoid going into their territory.
- Remain calm and do not make eye contact with the dog. You don’t want to appear to be a threat.
- Talk in a soothing tone. Do not scream or yell at the dog, as angry words and increased volume may only upset the dog more.
- If you are bitten, don’t pull away even though that may be your first instinct. This may only provoke the dog further. Try to put something between you and the dog such as a bike, stick, backpack, etc. Don’t hit the dog, that will only worsen the situation.
KEEP YOUR DOG SAFE
Another piece of advice is to always leash your dog when out walking. You have no way of trying to control a situation if you can’t manage your pup. Your dog looks to you as their leader and it is up to you to keep them safe. If you do come across an aggressive dog, remember to stay calm and be prepared to expect the unexpected.
Have you ever encountered an aggressive dog on a walk? If so, what did you do—please share in the comments below!
Hey y’all! My name is Julie and I am from Houston, Texas. I am married to a wonderful guy named Andrew and we have three amazing dogs: Heath, a blue Weimaraner, as well as Jackson and Bennett, two very spotty Dalmatians. Currently, I work as a higher education Public Relations Coordinator and am a graduate of Bethany College with a BA in communications and WVU with an MS in Integrated Marketing Communications. I am the fun-loving dog mom behind the scenes of the Instagram account @jackson_the_dalmatian. I hope you’ll follow along with our daily adventures!