Off-leash dogs: RSPCA tells what to do to prevent trouble

Walking your dog should be a nice casual and calming experience, however sometimes things can go wrong that are out of our hands.

After a recent vicious attack that killed five month old puppy, Arlo, and injured an older dog in Doolandella, it’s important to know what to do when faced with an off-leash dog. Many people are unsure what to do in these situations and sometimes our actions can make it worse. 

Here are some tips on how to deal with this situation:

• If you see the owner of an unleash dog, don’t be shy! Ask them to put their dog back on their lead immediately. You will often be greeted with the owner saying, “It’s ok, he is friendly.” This does not give the owner the right to let their dog ‘do what they want’ when out in public spaces. Even the most social of dogs can be caught off guard at another pooch running towards them.

• Carry a distraction. There is no sure fire way stop a dog running at you but there are a few things that may help in that situation. Carry high value treats like chicken, cheese or meat. Not only will they help your dog focus on you, but often throwing a handful of high value treats in the face of an approaching dog can stop them in their tracks, so they can then find all the treats on the ground. This should give you enough time to walk away with your dog calmly. Carry an umbrella! Even though you may not be expecting rain, an umbrella can be used to open as the dog approaches which should startle the oncoming dog and it can also be used as a shield to shield your dog from the off-lead dog. Carry a water bottle (the squirty kind). Not only can you stay hydrated, but the use of squirting water in the face of an approaching dog can also startle them enough to stop. It catches them by surprise and may buy enough time for the owner to leash their dog and you to walk away with yours.

What happens if it all goes bad? Do you break up the fight? Breaking up a dog fight is always risky, however in the heat of the moment all we care about is our dog’s safety. 

The best way to break up a fight is to grab the back legs of each dog and raise them off the ground (like a wheelbarrow) and walk backwards. If you are the only person present, do this to the dog that is leading the attack, eventually the other dog will try and get away.

Carrying an extra lead can also assist if you need to urgently clip a dog to pull it away.

Importantly, remember it is not your fault. If an off-lead dogs runs at you and that dog or your dog attacks, it is important to remember that you are not at fault. The person who did not have sufficient control of their dog is legally responsible and will be liable for all vet costs for any injuries to your dog and any humans caught in the crossfire.

Don’t forget to:

• Call your local council as soon as possible to report the incident and have their animal management quick response team attend.

• Take photos of all injuries and get as much information as possible about the offending dog.

• Remain calm! Making accusations and getting worked up will not help the situation.

• Seek medical attention as soon as possible at your vet or doctor for those that have been injured.

• Ask any witnesses for their details.

Information for this article was taken with permission from the article found on the RSPCA website called ‘off leash dogs’.

Council is seeking information about the recent attack that killed five month old puppy Arlo (pictured) that occurred on Sunday 10 January at 4.30 in the afternoon on Rockfield Street, Doolandella. The dog in question is a large, black, short haired dog. If you have information regarding the incident, please send an email to justiceforarlo@hotmail.com.