Summer is just around the corner, and if you and your pup are up-to-snuff on your off-leash dog training, you can hit the trails and dog parks with ease. That’s why we want to remind all of our responsible pet owners about the importance of proper off-leash dog training and etiquette. We want a happy tail-wagging summer for you, your favorite furry companion, and any other pups and people playing outside too.
Why “It’s OK. He’s Friendly!” Is The Worst Thing To Say At The Dog Park And On-Trail
We’ve all been there. You’re out on a walk, and out of nowhere, an unbound dog with no wagging tail comes barreling toward you and your precious pup. You panic, running through your mental list of evasive ninja maneuvers:
“Should I run?”
“Should I hold my ground?”
“Should I hold my dog tighter?”
“Should I drop my leash too?”
Then, from down the trail, you hear someone shout, “It’s OK. He’s friendly!”
While you downshift from full mama bear mode to “it’s-no-big-deal” and “I’m-overreacting,” you can’t help but shake the annoyance and displeasure of experiencing an unknown, free-range canine beeline in your direction with a seemingly naive owner in tow.
But we want you to know this. Dogs with no owner attached are A BIG DEAL! The “It’s OK. He’s friendly” technique brings on a whole slew of problems.
First, if you’ve responsibly ensured your pup has proper off-leash dog training, this kind of behavior can range from incredibly frustrating to downright dangerous. While this ambushing dog might be friendly, your canine or others might not be. When a dog catches people and other dogs off-guard this way, it puts everyone involved at risk.
Don’t get us wrong—we’re big fans of canine freedom at Dog Gone Amazing. Allowing dogs to roam the hills and valleys sans-leash gives them an amazing way to connect to their natural way of being. But without off-leash dog training, this kind of behavior can turn disastrous quickly.
Without full recall control, taking your dog to public spaces like dog parks and hiking trails can be a major risk for your dog and others. And yelling, “It’s cool!” as your dog pounces on an unsuspecting passerby means little to an unfriendly dog or nervous human with a weapon.
Your “friendly” dog can cause a dog fight.
Your dog might be the coolest, fun-loving, friendliest dog on earth, but if he lunges out of the sagebrush and frightens another dog, the friendliness of either dog might not matter at that point. This action could trigger the other dog’s fight-or-flight response which might end with teeth, blood, and tears.
If you plan on having your dog off-leash at the dog park or on trails, you need to get proper dog training with complete recall abilities so that your pup stays within sight and comes back when called.
An ambushing pup can trigger defensive reactions in people.
Nervous people might be carrying pepper spray and other deterrents out on the trail. If your dog comes running towards an unsuspecting hiker, they could end up with a big puff of pepper spray straight to their snout.
What to Do When the Other Dog is Off-Leash?
So, what if you’re on the receiving end of “It’s OK. He’s friendly?” Remember, keep calm. The last thing you want to do is to panic and start yelling or swinging limbs.
Just keep moving forward slowly with your dog. Don’t stop or back away. This gives the dog and its owner the idea that you’re not stopping for a “visit.” If the dog is insistent, you can use commands like “go away,” “get out,” or “no.”
You might also consider carrying a dog whistle which makes a high-frequency, irritating sounds that act as dog repellent. Just make sure your dog is leashed before you use it. While the whistle will cause some discomfort for your furry companion, it could be enough to ward off the other dog and get them out of your space without causing anyone harm. Having your own dog training will come into play here to give you complete control of your own dog despite the chaos.
Looking for Off-Leash Dog Training Near You?
For off-leash dog training, check out Dog Gone Amazing’s “Best Of” Package. We offer two off-campus lessons in outdoor spaces and on hiking trails. We’ll work with your dog directly to make sure it knows the rules of the road. We’ll work on off-leash control, teach your dog to come when called, teach commands like “get off” or “let go,” and work on the essential skills that keep them from ambushing people and dogs on the trail.