You and your pup are on a leisurely walk on a quiet, calm, sunny day, just minding your own business. Suddenly, a dog rounds the corner ahead, sees you and your pup, and comes straight toward you. Is he friendly? Does he want to play? Is he aggressive? Is he scared?

And the biggest question of all-now what?

It can be scary and happen incredibly quickly. You see the dog and he’s suddenly at your feet. Maybe he’s happily wagging his tail-but maybe he’s growling and moving directly toward your pup.

What can you do as a loose dog is approaching you and your pup?
*Avoid, or if necessary, slip by unnoticed, by turning around and changing your route, or at minimum, by crossing the street and walking as far away from the loose dog as possible.

*Assume the dog is not friendly. While it may look like a nice dog, you have no way of knowing (and even friendly dogs can bite). If you do find yourself in a situation like this, try to avoid getting too close to the dog as they may bite out of fear. Dog bites can be dangerous, if you get bit make sure that you get it checked as soon as you can. You should probably click here to learn about a dog bite injury attorney as well, because you may need to pay for medical costs if the dog caused real injury to you.

*Body block. Get between your dog and the oncoming stranger, however, be careful. Ideally, your dog will stay behind you and you can step directly between them. Yell “no,” “stop,” or “sit” at the other dog-they may listen, or at least slow down just by being startled by your voice.
*Get out of harm’s way. Look for an exit you and your dog can take that the other dog can’t-a house, car (even the back of an open pickup truck would work), shop, or gated fence are all good options.
Distract the stray dog. If you have dog treats with you, toss them in the oncoming dog’s path. This can potentially distract the dog long enough to allow you and your dog to get to safety. Not all dogs will be deterred by this, however.
*Carry citronella sprays (or other sprays specifically designed to deter animals), which are also an option if a stray dog continues to approach. It has effects similar to pepper spray, but is safer. The bottles typically have a clip so you can easily take one on your daily dog walk.
*Look for an owner-and don’t believe when they shout from across the street that their dog is “friendly.” Dogs can react unexpectedly and not all owners know how their dog will react-especially when excitedly meeting another dog that is on leash. Ask that they restrain their dog.

Stay alert while walking your dog, and keep an eye out for potential issues. The sooner you-or your dog-spot an issue, the sooner you can start looking for solutions. If you hear barking dogs ahead of you, or see a loose dog a few blocks ahead, change your route to avoid a potentially dangerous situation, even if that means turning around and going straight home, staying safe is a better option than getting bit and having to get in touch with a lawyer similar to this personal injury attorney Salt Lake City in order to receive compensation for medical bills, etc.

And keep in mind that it’s okay to exercise your dogs however is best for you and them. Go at “off-peak” walking times-maybe over the dinner hour or late at night. Find a route that isn’t commonly traveled by other dogs. And some days, backyard playtime instead is just fine. Do whatever it takes to keep your dog safe and happy.

By Rachel Leisemann Immel