These three trainer-approved tips could help keep you safe if confronted by an off-lead dog

Dog running across the grass
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you’ve ever been confronted by an off-lead dog, then you know how scary that experience can be. Even if you’ve been fortunate enough to have avoided finding yourself on the other end of threatening canine behavior, there are few things in this world that can fill us with fear quite like the thought of an aggressive-looking dog heading with great speed in our direction. 

While many of us go to great lengths researching which longest lasting dog chews or toys would be best for our fur friend and how to potty, lead and crate train them, what we often don’t think about is other people’s dogs - specifically, what to do if an off-lead dog approaches us in a way that suggests they may be about to bite.

Thankfully, Adam Spivey, founder of Southend Dog Training, has shared three things you can do that could drastically reduce your chances of getting bit should you ever find yourself in this kind of situation. 

"It's very simple, don't run away," Spivey says in a video posted to Instagram, which you can view below. "All that's going to do is increase your chances of getting bit. Nine out of 10 dogs when they're running over to you are bluffing. That bluff becomes a reality however when you run away, so don't do that, it's only prey that runs away." 

So, if running away is the one thing you want to avoid, what exactly should you do instead? Well, according to Spivey, there are three tactics you want to deploy which can greatly reduce your risk of being bit if approached by a confrontational canine. 

1. Issue the sit command

"What you want to do is stand your ground and shout sit," says Spivey. "Nearly every dog on the planet knows the word sit. They're either going to sit or they're going to be so bemused that a stranger just asked them to do it and they're going to run back  to their owner."

2. Keep your hands free

"If you're out with your dog or your child, do not pick them up", stresses Spivey. "All you do by picking them up is make yourself a target and make and whatever you picked up a target and you remove your hands. You want your hands in case you have to physically take control or defend yourself.

What you do is you put your dog behind you or your child behind you and you advocate and act as a barrier for them. You do not let that dog get behind you. You stamp your foot, you go on the offensive if necessary - shout sit and most dogs will run away."

3. Toss some treats

"The reality is that if a dog is going to bite you, it is going to bite you. But you reduce the chance of this happening if you stand your ground and instruct the dog what to do. Carry some treats in your pocket and throw the treats. That's also a good little thing that can help you," Spivey explains. 

Kathryn Williams
Freelance writer

Kathryn is a freelance writer who has been a member of the PetsRadar family since it launched in 2020. Highly experienced in her field, she's driven by a desire to provide pet parents with accurate, timely, and informative content that enables them to provide their fur friends with everything they need to thrive. Kathryn works closely with vets and trainers to ensure all articles offer the most up-to-date information across a range of pet-related fields, from insights into health and behavior issues to tips on products and training. When she’s not busy crafting the perfect sentence for her features, buying guides and news pieces, she can be found hanging out with her family (which includes one super sassy cat), drinking copious amounts of Jasmine tea and reading all the books.