Most dog owners carefully secure their furry friends when camping. But what if they don’t? What happens if a highly-spirited canine jumps his portable fence enclosure and heads toward you? What should you do if a large, powerful dog breaks free from its tether? Or jerks the leash out of the hands of its owner? Your quick and proper response may mean the difference between safety and injury.
(Note: Every situation is different. The following strategies cannot be guaranteed but may help you feel more confident when approached by an unleashed dog. Always use caution.)
Some strategies to consider:
- If you see an unleashed dog a distance away from you, calmly walk away. Return to your RV or find another safe place nearby (e.g., pool enclosure, park restroom, behind a vehicle).
- If an off-leash dog suddenly appears in close proximity to you, turn to stand with the side of your body facing the dog.
- Stand as still as possible. (Running at or away from the dog, or “shoo-ing” the dog may trigger a chase response.)
- Do not make direct eye contact with the dog, who may interpret that as aggression.
- Keep the dog in your peripheral vision.
- If you see the dog’s owner, ask him to call his dog. Do not approach even if the dog’s owner says, “She’s friendly.” She may not act friendly to you, or your own dog may act aggressively toward the unleashed pet.
- Other dog owner not around? If you have your own leashed dog with you, attempt to calmly walk away. (A treat or toy may help distract your pup and keep her moving away.)
- If the unleashed pet continues toward you, you may have to confront it. Command your dog to sit/stay and reinforce his quiet, still behavior with a treat. Stand between your dog and the approaching one. Use a loud, commanding voice to shout, “Go home!”
- Some people like to take an umbrella with them when they walk. If approached by an unleashed pet, quickly open the umbrella. It may frighten the dog away. (Be sure your own dog is used to the umbrella trick so as not to scare it, too!)
- Other folks like to take dog treats with them when they walk (even if they are not walking a dog). If approached by an unleashed pet, you can toss the treats away from the dog (and yourself). This may distract the pet from approaching, allowing you time to walk away.
- Carry a dog repellent spray like this one or a dog horn like this.
- Always inform the camp manager about any unleashed pet. Provide a description and the time/place you saw the animal. Managers do not want the inherent risk of unleashed pets or strays roaming the campground.