We’ve all encountered it, and some of us will have been unlucky enough to have to deal with the problem directly with one of our own Dogs. I’m talking about Dog to Dog aggression, especially while out on walks. This can be a particularly emphatic problem for Dog walkers, as the responsibility of looking after Dogs other than our own makes the situation even more nerve racking. This subject was suggested by one of our members at Dog Walkers City and it’s one we thought was well worth covering.
Dealing with aggressive Dogs when out walking can be extremely tricky. Combine that with not knowing the Dog(s) you’re walking as well as you would your own and you have a particularly worrying situation. There is no one answer to this question but I think it’s important to pre-empt the problem from day one. This means talking openly to the owner when you first start walking their Dog (I’m talking about the client here – not the owner of an aggressive Dog) and asking them if they’ve had any experience in this area and if so, how their Dog tends to react to aggression.
It’s important to explain that you’re only asking this in case a problem arises and that you like to be as well prepared as possible if something were to happen. This should alleviate the owners concerns instead of worrying them. Once you know how a Dog reacts to aggression, you’ll be better served to deal with a situation if it occurs. The owner may also already have a trick or method that tends to work for them and their Dog. Either way, its good to discuss this subject and similar ones before you take on a new client.
Of course it’s one thing discussing this with owners but it’s another when it actually happens out on a walk. Here’s the scene; Your walking two clients Dogs when you see another Dog running towards them from the other side of the field. The situation could turn aggressive, it could not. What do you do?
First, Dogs tend to be less aggressive when owners are around so call the Dogs you’re walking to your heel. If they’re not on leads already try and get their leads on them as soon as possible. Hopefully the aggressive Dogs owner should have called his Dog back to him or be trying to deal with the situation himself, if he hasn’t noticed what’s going on try calling him over.
There are varying degrees of response to aggression and how to respond ultimately depends on you and what you feel is necessary. An extreme response is pepper spray. In my research I’ve found that a lot of people carry pepper spray when walking their Dogs in case something happens. I’m sure this is an effective response to aggression, but I’m in no way advocating it. Like I said, ultimately it’s down to you. A less extreme alternative to pepper spray is simply a small spray bottle of water. This can sometimes be enough to resolve the situation and I have read of some people adding lemon to the water.
An alternative to spraying is noise. Loud noises are sometimes enough to scare a Dog away, or at least snap them out of certain behaviour. I’d recommend carrying a tin can with coins in. Shaking this when a situation arises can be very effective.
Nine out of Ten times an aggressive Dog will be dealt with by their owner straight away. But occasionally you’ll come across an owner that either isn’t responsible or just doesn’t care. If it’s one isolated encounter with this sort of Dog and owner then there’s not much you can do about it. Use the tactics above and then walk away in the opposite direction. But what do you do when you encounter the same problem and the same person over and over again.
Here you have two options. The first is to change where you walk. While not ideal, this solution may appeal to you if you don’t want to confront the owner and get drawn into a situation you could avoid. The second option is to confront the owner and, if that doesn’t work eventually report him/her. If the problem occurs over and over again then I wouldn’t hesitate to take this route. Especially if a Dogs safety is at risk.
As I said, this is a tricky subject and one I hope you won’t have to deal with very often, if at all. Do you agree or disagree with any of these tactics? Or do you have your own advice on how to deal with aggression. Let us know in the comments…
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