Worried about encountering an off-leash dog? This trainer's simple tips will ensure you and your pup stay safe

Two dogs sniffing each other in a park
(Image credit: Getty Images)

When you’re out and about with your dog, you’ll probably encounter off-leash dogs from time to time. Sometimes, they might not bother you and your pup at all, but other times, coming into contact with off-leash dogs can be a little scary. After all, you don’t know how other dogs will react to you and your canine. 

There are lots of different potential ways to handle an off-leash situation, however, depending on the circumstances. Maybe your pup is on one of the best dog leashes, but the dogs around them aren’t, for example. And, certified dog trainer Melissa Goodman of Mission Pawsitive has got some advice to share. 

“If there is distance,” Goodman begins in her video, “I stop and wait to see if the owner will recall their dog.” In the video, the other dog parent does recall their pup, and Goodman recalls her dog, Aspen, too – she’s on a loose leash. Meanwhile, here are 15 helpful ways to get your dog to come back to you on off-leash walks if you’re in the same situation as the other dog parent.

When they later bump into the dog again – one of three off-leash dogs in a group – Goodman ensures that Aspen has all of her long line relaxed to give her the chance to move as though she’s also off-leash. This means that she doesn’t feel trapped.

“It’s also important to act calm in this situation even if you are nervous on the inside,” Goodman stresses. “Thankfully, these were very nice dogs that had a hard time recalling from us at close distance, so I kept walking and encouraged Aspen to walk with me in the other direction.”

In her caption, Goodman adds, “I just made sure to have relaxed body language and a calmer tone of voice so I didn’t add any excitement or stress. Aspen is great with other dogs, but you never know how strange dogs will react to one another, especially when surprised, so it is always a good idea to avoid these types of encounters if you can.”

Goodman has an air horn, which she would have used as a last resort had the off-leash dogs been aggressive – she explains in her caption that an air horn can be useful in case you encounter any dangerous wildlife, too. 

If it’s your dog who can misbehave when they’re off their leash, you might find this article from a dog parent who was in the boat useful: My dog embarrassed me with her terrible off-leash behavior — here’s how I fixed it.

Adam England
Freelance Writer

Adam is a freelance journalist covering lifestyle, health, culture, and pets, and he has five years' experience in journalism. He's also spent the last few years studying towards undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in journalism. While a cat person at heart, he's often visiting his parents' Golden Retriever, and when he's not writing about everything pets he's probably drinking coffee, visiting a cat cafe, or listening to live music.