Have you ever been on a walk with Sparky, when suddenly there is a bark or a growl that isn’t Sparky? Before you know it, the two of you are about to cross paths with a medium sized dog you’ve never seen before who is bounding at you with a ton of energy.
In my 13 years of experience, I have encountered stray and loose dogs, and even coyotes approaching me and the animal(s) I am walking. For those who have not had this experience, it can be both unnerving and scary! You're instinct may be to run away, or to try and confront the animal. But what is really the best thing to do? You don’t know if the other animal is aggressive, and if it’s a coyote, that chance is high. Living in California, I felt it was imperative to share with you some tips that have worked for me when put in these situations.
1. Try and remain calm: Often, our first reaction is to tense up and become anxious. However, the animal you are walking will sense that and will more likely become anxious as well. This can increase stress for the animal (and you!) and your animal can become harder to control. The best way to stay calm is to take a deep breath or two and know that you are prepared for what may happen next…
2. Don’t run: Many animals, especially pets, will take that as a clue to play (or attack) and start chasing you. Instead, avoid sudden fast or large movements and back away slowly from the oncoming animal so as not to alarm it.
3. Step in between your pet and the approaching animal: You can square your hips and shoulders toward the oncoming animal and place your body between the two. This body language reinforces your self as a dominant figure.
4. Make loud noises: Or give out commands such as, “No!” “Sit!” or ‘Stay." A loose dog may recognize those commands and stop from approaching you.
5. Carry SprayShield, and use it if necessary: SprayShield is a pet deterrent spray. The active ingredient (citronella) is a natural essential oil that has been used in human, animal, and environmental applications for thousands of years. Although it can cause discomfort in certain individuals with allergies to citronella, it is considered safe for the vast majority of people and animals.
6. Get your animal to safety as fast as possible: This is if you have encountered an extremely aggressive dog or coyote. If you have a smaller dog, pick them up and try to find a safe place to put them (the bed of a nearby truck, behind the fence of a neighbors yard) If you have a big dog sometimes it is best to let go of the leash to have them try to run to safety.
7. Protect yourself: Once you know your animal is safe, protect your throat and neck area. You can use your arm to be a shield to protect those vital areas of your body.
For all intents and purposes, the information here does not serve as any guarantee. These are just some tips that have worked for me over the years. I strongly encourage you to do your own research on these concerns, so you can also be prepared for the unexpected! Let me know in the comments what has worked for you!
Edited by Tara Rico