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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I have a boxer mix who REALLY dislikes when off leash dogs come running up to greet her. I love to take her hiking (on leash) with me but the off leash dogs are a constant source of stress. This past weekend, a man had 4 large off leash dogs with him, 2 of which came running up at full speed and surrounded her to sniff. She stiffened immediately and began to growl, bare teeth and lunge at the other dogs. One dog began to growl back but fortunately the owner was able to eventually get control over them.

This is not the first time this has happened and my dog has a history of getting into actual dog fights (resource guarding related) so I know what she is capable of.

I am also aware that people are not going to stop letting their dogs off leash, so I have to find a way to safely take her on hikes or I will be forced to leave her at home which I would hate to do.

I've done some research and below are options I am considering. I would like to know if anyone has successfully used any of these to prevent an off leash dog from approaching, or if you have any other advice for me.

Muzzle - will prevent her from biting, but I'm worried she will still growl and then won't be able to defend herself if other dog attacks

Umbrella- open as dog runs up and use as barrier

Citronella Sprayshield - spray at oncoming dog to make them retreat

Pepper spray - would work but could backfire if windy and make owner of other dog very angry

Air horn- should surprise/scare oncoming dog but could also freak out my own dog

Throwing treats to distract - not sure how many dogs this would actually work on

Yell STOP!!!! really loud and try to stand in between my dog and the other dog

Thanks everyone!
 

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Is this happening in an area where dogs are legally permitted to be off-leash? If so, then using a cattle prod or other device could put you in a situation of grief from the authorities.

Regardless of the legality, none of the actions you've listed will reduce the stress for your dog and it's questionable whether they will actually increase her safety. You could seek enforcement if the other dogs are required to be leashed, but honestly, I'd just find another place to hike that provides absolute solitude. That's the simplest, safest, and most stress-free solution.
 

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First, make sure that the owner is actually breaking the law having their dogs off-leash. If off-leash dogs are permitted, you don't really have any right to use an aversive method to deter someone else's dog, and your dog shouldn't be there.

If the owner is breaking the law having their dogs off-leash, you could contact law enforcement, but they never seem to enforce leash laws and they can't have someone there 24/7 to make sure everyone is following the law, unfortunately. I think stepping in front of your dog, putting a hand up, and yelling 'stop' is probably a good first step. Some dogs (not all) will at least hesitate when someone does that, and that may indicate to their owner that your dog is not up for an off-leash greeting and may give them time to control their dog. I have also followed that with some tossed treats and hurried away while the dog snuffled in the grass for them, but sometimes they get so excited they don't care about treats and want to meet your dog.

If the dog continues to advance, perhaps an umbrella to shield your dog. Train your dog to be okay with the umbrella, though. Spray deterrents are risky because they can backfire, and they don't usually work. I would hesitate to use a cattle prod.They would certainly do the trick, but thats a good way to get sued for injuring an animal, especially in areas where the leash law is debatable. Make absolutely sure you won't face legal trouble before using something like that, and know that it WILL very much hurt the dog you're using it on and could possibly make the dog defensive and lash out.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks! To clarify, dogs are required to be LEASHED on the trails I hike. Unfortunately, leash violations are rarely enforced. There are no “safe” trails as people insist on breaking the law and dont care since there is no enforcement.

So being realistic, my only options are to leave my pup at home or find a way to deter off leash dogs from approaching.

A cattle prod is a bit extreme. I dont want to injure the other dog or cause a serious confrontation with an angry owner.
I just want to safely keep the dog away from mine.
 

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I happened to have an umbrella when 2 large straying dogs that turned out to be dog killers approached us. I didn't pop it in the dogs' faces, I used it to block them. They couldn't see and hadn't yet become aroused and looking for trouble so it worked. Once a dog is aroused then not much is going to help. Pepper spray in the hands of a police officer didn't stop an aroused dog from repeatedly putting my dog on the ground. We hid in his car until the dog wandered off looking for more trouble. This is really hard stuff, hope you come up with something that works for you.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks Kathyy for sharing your experience with an umbrella. Sorry to hear about the dog attack on your dog. It's one of my worst fears.
 

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I use a stun device. Usually just the snap and crackle is enough to run the stray dogs off. Cattle prod is not a good idea. First they really aren’t as powerful as you might think second they are illegal in many places. A stout walking stick works when it gets physical.

I don’t allow any strange dogs to approach. It’s usually best to avoid and retreat possibly just walk in a better area. I just got out of 6 days in ICU at the hospital and I just face planted in soft snow when an off leash dog confronted us. You can get hurt messing with big dogs but a small dog tangling your legs in a leash can do the same thing.

Just be careful and be legal.
 
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