Are you afraid of dogs? Do you walk in a huge bow around them when passing or do you panic and start to run or scream?
People are afraid of different things and have different ways of handling them. Walking in a huge bow around is one way of handling it, but wouldn’t it be nice if you could stop being afraid and get rid of your fear of dogs?
What are you afraid of?
My dogs are not scary. They are both fluff balls sniffing their way through the walk. They are not very interested in what goes on around them unless another dog is in sight. I obey leash laws, and always call them next to me when we pass people, only letting them greet if a person directly asks me if they can say hi, and sometimes I even say no to that. In other words we mind our own business when we walk. I think that many dog owners are like this and many dogs just want to explore their surroundings and do not have time to pay attention of people passing.
I realize that not all dog owners are like that which might have caused you to be afraid and react in the ways that you do. Therefor I have created some advice and actions you can take next time you meet a dog. This will hopefully both help you with your fear but also help the dog you are passing.
Steps to tackle your fear and stop being afraid of dogs
Ignore the dog. When you pass try to ignore the dog. Do not stare at the dog or even seek eye contact as that might make the dog interested in you.
Be calm. Stay calm. Take deep breaths and continue in the same walking pace. If you start making abnormal movements or sounds you will not only become noticeable but also interesting for the dog, possibly even making the dog nervous and causing a reaction from the dog. Pass normally and most dogs will hardly even notice you.
- No sudden movements or outbursts. Do not kick towards the dog, or yell at them or act in any other provocative way. An incident happened to me once. Chester and I were crossing a street. Chester was walking nicely next to me, not caring about the other people when a lady passes and suddenly kicks at him, luckily not hitting him, where after she says – I’m afraid…definitely not the right way to handle your fear lady!
4. Respect the dog and owner. Don’t ask me to move away from the street. Don’t ask me to wait and do not tell me to hold my dogs. We have as much right to walk here as you.
5. Learn to speak dog. Knowledge is power and if you spend a little time teaching yourself the basics of dog body language it will also make you more secure when you meet a dog as you can now read their intentions.
How to handle being afraid when meeting an off leash dog
If the dog’s eyes are almond shaped and shows no white, have a relaxed body with a loosely wagging tale (NOTE! Just because a dog is wagging his tail does not mean he is friendly as a wagging tale can mean many different things depending on the wag), mouth slightly open, drooling tongue and just mind his own business then you can just pass normally.
If the dog starts to follow you, you stop, sit down and turn away from the dog and ask the owner in a calm voice to call their dog.
If the dog displays a tense body, growls, show his teeth, barks (a bark does not always mean that the dog is unfriendly, it can also be from excitement) and the hair is raised then you immediately stop and slowly move away from the dog as calmly as you can, again asking the owner to call their dog.
It goes without saying that responsible dog owners would never just let their dog run up to strangers but always call them and have them under control both unleashed and leashed but sadly not all dog owners acts this way so use these tools should you encounter a…let’s call them free spirits 😉
Don’t make your children afraid
The final thing I would ask you is that if you have children don’t pass your fear on to them. Either by dragging them away from the dogs or telling them how dangerous they are. Instead teach them how to act around dogs in a safe and nice way.
If you have children and dogs read this blog about safe interaction between dogs and children.
Let’s all be allowed to walk peacefully among each other by all taking responsibility and giving each other the space that is needed by making informed and educated choices.