Effective tips that stop off leash dogs bolting towards your dog on a leash

Published by Wil on

off leash dogs

Have you ever been walking with your dog in your neighborhood and saw off leash dogs? Sure, you have… not a biggie right. Well, what if I changed it up a bit and I said it was random loose dog that you’ve never seen before and it’s attention was focused on your dog on a leash. Let’s add to the mix that this unleashed dog is approaching you and your dog fast… really FAST? How would you handle the situation? In a tense setting that’s surely a cause for concern, right?


The fact is, millions of dog owners across the country experience a loose dog running towards them and their dog.


Most controlled setting such as in a beach or park more than likely the owner of an unleased dog is nearby. Usually, in such case the dog owner either will call for their dog to comeback or you will ask them to retrieve their dog if they haven’t done so. Those types of encounter are usually safe and are not as tense, unless you encounter a bonehead dog owner.

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So, without further ado, here are our best tips for that stop off leash dogs bolting towards your dog on a leash!

Utter Disbelief of owners who walk their dogs unleashed

Still, I am amazed how many people just passively watch as their off leash dogs aggressively, or rudely, approaches on-leash dog and their owner. It’s even worst when they yell, “He’s friendly!” or “Puppers is looking for a new girlfriend” … seriously, Sage is too much of a diva to “dog date” an unleashed dog. Somehow, these owners justify their dogs behavior as acceptable and expect you to entertained the bad behavior. For the record screaming “my dog is friendly” does not make the behavior acceptable.


Off-leash dogs are illegal in virtually every populated city and in most suburban area in the US. That includes the city of Saint Louis.


In this article I will cover common mistakes made when an unleash dog approached, how to handle an off leash dog and what you should do if you and your dog are in a tense situation with a loose dog.


Is it legal to walk off leash dogs in Saint Louis Missouri?

So, after experiencing many encounters with off leashed dogs while walking my dog sage on a leash, I grew curious. I wanted to know whether Saint Louis had any laws against unleashed dogs and what the consequences are.


According to Saint Louis ordinance code “10.04.220 A.K.A Leashing of dogs”, and I quote, “No person owning, having a proprietary interest in, harboring or having the care, charge, control, custody or possession of a dog, shall permit such dog to be in or upon any public street, park or other public place unless such dog is upon a secure leash not more than six feet long held continuously in the hands of a responsible person capable of controlling the dog”.


Finding that bit of information wasn’t hard at all. The “Leashing of Dogs” ordinance basically state unless you’re walking an invisible off leashed dog then your dog must be attached to a leash and should be in the owners control at all times.


Another law to look for if you live in Missouri is “adequate control”. It states if a dog is running loose and get hit by a car, attacks another dog, or chases people and or children then “you” as the owner may be criminally liable. I should also mention “adequate control” applies for in dogs that are on their owner’s property as well.


Dog owners who allow their dogs to roam freely off leash put their pet at a disservice and in danger. The “adequate control” law apply for lost and runaway dogs too. Therefore, if an unleashed dog approaches someone walking an aggressive dog and get attacked the owner of the injured dog will have to foot the expensive vet bill and are accountable for the injuries to the other dog.


Consequences for unleashed dogs in St Louis

Nine out of ten times if a dog is on the loose without identification tags they will be sent to the pound when captured. Talk about a stressful situation for a lost dog and their owner.

A dog that is afraid and adding strange people chasing can cause the sweetest dog to become aggressive. In the city of saint louis if a dog is observed being aggressive, they will be put down. It should be noted if a police officer sees a dog biting someone that dog will be put down immediately, especially if the dog breed has a bad reputation.  Dog that show signs of aggression in the dog pound are euthanized.


  • Your dog will be sent to the pound if caught off leash.
  • Owner will have to pay a pound fee for captured unleashed dog.
  • You maybe fine by the city and lose your dog if roaming saint louis without a leash.
  • Medical expenses if the dog bites a person or another dog.
  • Dog owner will be held responsible by the city for any damages that while dog is off leash.

Why you should view off leash dogs be as a threat

Personally, I never allow any unleashed dogs to close to my dog Sage. My motto is “No Leash No Greet” you just never know… friendly dogs can become aggressive or triggered. Another reason why I am careful with loose dogs roaming the streets is because there’s no telling if that approaching dog is up to date with vaccinations or healthy. I keep all unknown off leash dogs away from my dog. Point blank period! It’s better to be safe than sorry.


If you see an unleashed dog approaching and the owner trailing behind, ask the owner to get their dog. Like I mentioned earlier most will say, “Oh, he’s friendly,” you shouldn’t trust them. I usually respond with “the veterinarian says my dog is contagious with the Kakas”. It never fails, the owner will usually call their dog back or rush to pull their dog away. That our little dirty secret!


It should be assumed an owner who is allowing their dog to approach a strange leashed dog is not a responsible owner.


Does this encounter with off leash dogs look familiar

Watch as two off leash dogs charge at a dog on a leash. The dog on leash reacts to the two dogs by barking and lunging at them. The owner used two techniques to keep the two loose dogs away from her dog. The body blocking technique and treat tossing technique.

Notice one dog was distracted by the treats and the other dog kept its distance by the body block. I will go into further details about both techniques later on in the article.


Remember what I said about irresponsible dog owners… Clearly, the goofball in the black ball cap is one of them. Instead of apologizing he deflects and complains about the woman protecting her dog with treats. The woman in the video did everything right and may have read my articles… wink, wink!

Are all off leash dogs dangerous?

No, not all loose dogs are dangerous in some cases it’s the dog on a leash who is the aggressor. Seriously, a dog can be triggered by the smallest thing. If you have a reactive dog on leash than it’s wise to find routes that are not populated with people or dogs. I’ve personally seen people walking an aggressive dog who lunges at people or and other dogs while on a leash.

Two types of reactive dog on leash that cause fights when loose dog approach

  • walking an aggressive dog

When you are walking an aggressive dog you should pay more attention to your surrounding than you would when walking a calm dog.  The saying of “dog reactive to other dogs” is a real thing… Dogs that are reactive to other dogs will become aggressive and hard to control, they become enraged just by the site of other dogs.


Canines the are reactive to other dogs will bark aggressively and lunge. This action occurs when a dog feels their territory is being threatened. Dogs on leashes that view their owners as their property and will want to “defend you” when invaders (off leash dogs) approach. Such a loyal gesture but very dangerous.

  • walking a nervous dog


Dog that is nervous or frighten are just as dangerous to other dogs as aggressive dogs. This is where understanding dogs body language comes in handy.


A dog that is frightened or nervous around people or other dogs may attack unexpecting. Look for signs such as arched back, raised fur on their backs and tail between the legs. In such a case it is best to avoid other dogs and use the body blocking technique when an unleashed dog is close. After the encounter is over and removed from the situation, give your dog a treat. Giving your pup a treat will take the edge off after a frightening experience.


Here’s an extra tip for avoiding Off leash dogs

Be aware of your surroundings when walking with your dog

  • The key to avoiding an unleashed dog is to be on the lookout and in the zone. The sooner you spot an off leash dog, the easier it is to change your course of direction on the drop of a dime. You should always be prepared to deal with a potential kaka situation. I’m Haitian, I use the word “Kaka” A LOT!

I’m always puzzled when to see dog owners walking dogs with retractable dog leashes as they stare intently at their cell phones and scroll through their IG timeline. All I can think to myself, what the heck are they going to do if a loose dog who is protective of its territory turn the corner, causing all hell in a very avoidable situation?


Understand off leash dog body language

A dog will tell you everything you need to know by their body language. The tricky part an understanding and assessing the signals when walking with your dog. You need to be fast when evaluating the signals an off leash dog or else you and your dog could be in danger.

Three things to look for

  • Tail
  • Ears
  • Fur

Pay attention to the Tail

When an off leash dog approach pay attention to their tails. Look at for two things: the position of the tail, and how the tail is moving.


A relaxed dog tail will have a movement of a loose wag, side to side and even circular motion. A dog that is alert will have its tail raised above spine level. When my dog Sage is excited or alert, she moves her tail side to side with short, rapid movements as she becomes more intrigued.

off leash dog tail language

Scared dog tuck their tail between their back legs. The tail may also be held stiff against the belly area. Typically, a fearful dog will not approach you or your dog. I don’t suggest approach a scared dog… fear can turn into aggression.


I Ear you loud and clear 

(Terrible Jamaican accent)

As I’m sure you already know, I have a Rhodesian Ridgeback with floppy ears. Unlike dog’s that have pointy ears, it is easier to spot ear position in floppy-eared dogs. A Ridgeback can move their ears forward and back making it easy to read their emotions.


Of course, not every encounter with an off leash dog will be with a floppy-eared dog. Below should give you a better understanding of the ear signals whether it’s a floppy or pointy-eared when approached by a loose dog.


  • When a dog’s ears are forward, it means the dog is paying close attention, alert or is curious.
  • A slight backward ear or ears to the is an appeasing dog.
  • When the dog’s ears are flat against its head, it represents fear or aggression.
  • If the dog’s ears are way back but not close to its head may mean that your dog is feeling sad or anxious.

Unleashed dogs ear language

Dog bur fur

Just like human goosebumps dogs have a similar effect, instead of hair raising on their arms and legs, their fur stands along their backs. Humans goosebumps usually occur when a person is cold or in fear. Instead of goose bumps, dogs have what is called Piloerection or “raised hackles”. When “raised hackles” occur in dog it is a sign of heighten arousal.


As an added bonus a frightened or stressed dog may also shed more than usual. For more about dog shedding check out the article I wrote on the topic.


The common assumption of Piloerection or “raised hackles” is it only occurs when the dog is angry or ready to bite, in fact, that is not always the case. Raised hackles also happen when a dog is in fear, excited and even when they’re happy.


Fluffy long hair dog breeds like Komondor and Chow Chow, piloerection is more challenging to spot. In such a case, reading the other body parts mentioned above will be your better bet.


Raised hackles don’t always mean aggression but it is one the indicators… If piloerection is in combination with tense movement, growling and showing of teeth then you and your dog need to get away from the situation immediately.

Dog body language chart

Take a look at the infographic by RSPCA below about dog body language chart below to give you a better understanding of dog behaviors.

Loose dogs body language


Common mistakes people make when off leash dogs approach

Below is a list of obvious and not so obvious mistakes people make when approached by an unfamiliar off leash dog. Making any of these mistakes while walking with your dog is extremely dangerous and can result in grave injuries for you and or dog.


Avoid these mistakes when dealing with loose dogs

  • Making sudden movements or running away.
  • Gabbing the stray dog.
  • Hitting the loose dog with your hands or kicking. (You should not hit a dog unless you are in great danger and there is absolutely no other way.)
  • Being loud and running toward an unfamiliar dog is never a good idea especially if they are showing signs of aggression.
  • Touching: Some dogs generally don’t like their tail, feet and ears touched or tugged. Rubbing an unleash dogs belly isn’t advised either. Dog’s that are alphas tend to not like being inverted and rubbed on their belly. Being on the back is a position of submission and will result in aggression and a dog that is willing to attack in order to resist the “challenge”.
  • “Surprising” a dog (sneaking up on or startling a dog while it’s sleeping) much like startling a person while they are asleep aggression usually follows. It’s the same for dogs, aggression is a defense mechanism and will kick in, some dogs will even bite in self-defense.
  • Ignoring their warning! If a dog barks and or growls when you approach his territory and you continue to move forward, then honestly you are asking to get bitten. Dog give warning signs telling you that they don’t like what you are doing, and the signs are there to tell you to stop. So, pay attention to their warning signals!!
  • Getting very close within eye-level and smiling. Showing of the teeth is one of the signals dogs display as aggression. When you’re up close and smile at an unfamiliar dog, it thinks you’re “bearing your teeth” and that is an invitation for a fight to dogs!

What to do if an off leash dog approaches

I am asked “What should I do if an off-leash dog approaches?” all the time, and I always answer with “it depends” … It really does! Some off leashed dog’s will abandon their curiosity when told to “Go away or Go Home” in a stern voice then there are other cases it may not be as easy to run them off.


Aggressive dog’s that are attempting to defend their territory will not just go away because you tell it to. These safety tips will help deter aggressive off leash dog from approaching you and your on leash dog.

Stay Calm and keep their attention on you while walking with your dog

I know staying calm is hard to do when faced with an unfamiliar dog is approaching and have no idea what are their intentions! The best thing do is to remain calm. The calmer you’re able to stay, the calmer your dog will be.


Don’t mind me while I burst your bubble, but an off leash dog is more interested in your leashed dog than it is of you. So, keeping your dog calm and their attention on you will discourage an off leash dog from approaching.


While you are walking with your dog the best way to keep their attention on you is to give them praise and entice your dog with treats. Transfer positive and calm energy through the leash to your dog by keeping your hands relaxed on their dogs’ leash. Dogs can sense when your nervous and become tense because of your energy.

Use Dog treats as a way to create distance from an approaching loose dog

Distance is your best friend when attempting to avoid an off leash dog is approaching. You want as much space as possible to make a clean getaway.


Treats are a great way to distract an unleashed dog and create space. Take a handful of Canine Carry Outs Beef Flavor Dog Treats in the dogs direction to break their concentration. This will cause the off leash dog to search for the treat that you throw at it. This will buy you some time, use the opportunity to safely remove your dog and yourself out of a potentially dangerous situation.


Therefore, this is why paying attention to your surrounding is crucial when walking with your dog. The earlier you see the dog approaching, the easier it is to prevent any problems.

Body blocking and move

The body blocking technique is used to create space between your dog and the off leash canine. When used properly the technique can be highly effective when unleash dog approach.


To perform the body clocking technique, step forward and put your hand out in a stop motion. Keep your dog behind you, use your body to block access of the approaching dog. Make sure to stay between the loose dog and your dog until they go away or you make your way to a secure area.

Power of the horn

If the treat technique doesn’t work, then try sound as an alternitive option. Dogs have sensitive ears which means they are influences by noise. Usually loud noises and high-pitched sounds will startle an unleash dog as it comes towards you on your walk.


The loud SAFETY-SPORT DOG HORN XL is used to scare off wild coyotes and fox, it will work against off leash dogs as well. The dog will either run off in fear or be distracted, even just for a second, that should be enough time to walk away in another direction. Dog horn is like mace for dog ears without the blow back.

Use dog deterrent as a last resort

Fortunately, there are certain smells that can deter a loose dog from continuing to come forward. The PetSafe SprayShield Animal Deterrent sprays is not harmful to dogs. The smell of the spray irritates the dog causing it to leave to avoid being sprayed again. SprayShileld is specifically designed to prevent unwelcome dogs from getting too close to you or your dog. Although the spray is effective, I should note that the spray does not work on all dogs.


SprayShileld is lightweight, small, easily attached to a belt, or put it in your carrying fanny pack. The spray can reach up to 12 feet, but the average spray is 10 feet.

Unleashed dog deterrent utility belt

I know it’s a lot to carry all at once… Well, I’m glad you said something. The Dog Walk Waist Fanny Pack Treat Pouch as I like to call it my “walking with your dog utility hero belt”. Yes, I am a total “nerd” and use any excuse to be a superhero! Seriously, the waist fanny pack is really handy.


You will be able to carry all of your supplies in one place. I usually Keep the treats that I use for loose dogs in the separate pouch then the treats for my dog (The good stuff) so I don’t mix them up. The safety sports horn and dog deterrent spray go in the big pouch. There’s even a slot for a water bottle and best of all there’s still room for my phone and keys.

What you should do after encountering a loose dog

Once you and your dog are in a safe place and away from the off leashed dog, call the authorities. Your local animal control agency is fully equipped to handle an unleashed dog safely. If you are in a rural area and do not have an animal control center nearby, then call the police.


Make sure your report to authorities is as detailed as possible. Tell them where the animal is by describing mile markers or landmarks and give them the road names if you’re able to see the street signs. Give your phone number to the dispatcher if they need an update of the loose dog movement and try to get an estimate of how long it may take the authorities to arrive.

Calling the proper authorities can help get the dog on the loose home. In most cases, dogs that are found wandering off leash are usually lost or runaway dogs. These dogs have either jumped a fence, got off their leash or boulted out of an open door.


When walking with your dog on leash pay attention to your surrounding and be on the lookout for off leash dogs. An unleashed dog can cause havoc if the encounter handled incorrectly. Follow the tips in this article help identify loose dog intentions and how to deal with them when they approach.


Whatever approach you choose from the list, do your best to remain calm. Doing so will help deescalate the situation and assure your dog remains calm as well.


These unleash dog tips will help avoid any altercation with the approaching dog and dog on leash. Make sure that you write down as much as you can remember about the incident, such as location, a description of the dog, and contact your local animal control agency.

If you would like to learn more about taking care of your dog, visit TravelingPetSafety.com.. The site is full of PAWSOME content and much more to come. So, Come on join the fun and continue to support our community!

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