10 polite things to say to people that let their off-lead dog approach yours

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone popped their dog back on a lead when they saw your dog was on their lead?

Unfortunately, not everyone is aware that they shouldn’t let their dog run up to a dog they don’t know. Especially if they are on the lead.

If you have a nervous or anxious dog, the impact on your dog may be small or significant. In the moment, it can be hard to know what to do. Perhaps we want to avoid confrontation or gets flustered and go blank.

If you feel awkward or get stuck on what to say, why not plan what to say and practise saying it. I’d recommend keeping it polite, if at all possible, no matter how frustrated or upset you’re feeling.

It might sound silly, but when you are feeling worried, you can shout it out with confidence as soon as someone is in earshot.

You are your dog’s advocate – you can speak out for them with confidence. Feel empowered to say what your dog needs in that moment.

Tackle the awkwardness of what to say to someone when their dog is too close or too much for your dog.

In this blog I’m going to share with you some assertive but polite ways that you can handle off-lead encounters and communicate what your dog needs. I asked my community for their suggestions of what to say and included some of their suggestions for you.

Get prepared

What you could to say:

“My dog’s nervous can you come and get your dog please.”

“She’s really scared – she was attacked when she was a puppy.”

“My dog is in-season – can you put your dog back on a lead please.”

“My dog has an eye infection – it’s probably contagious!”

“My dog’s got fleas.”

“He’s injured and can’t play.”

“My dog has got kennel cough.”

“My dog is in training as a service dog… he’s learning that people/dogs/whatever are none of his business. Thank you so much for helping me with this.”

“My dog is very nervous and may snap or bite if approached!”

“I am sure it is not your intention, but your dog is causing a great deal of distress to my dog by not keeping your distance.”

I think this can work well if you’re getting into a conversation with someone. Most people are unlikely to be unkind to animals.

Some of these might not be true, but the medical/contagious reason will probably mean most people will get their dog away swiftly. It can help to combat the “don’t worry, he’s friendly” brigade!

You could simply put your palm up to people to say “Stop!”

And then say she’s in training to ignore people/dogs at the moment. Thank them for helping out.

Pick whatever feels most comfortable for you. The reason you give doesn’t need to be accurate!

Be polite, clear, and as loud as you need to, for the distance someone is to you.

Yellow space awareness products

It’s also helpful to use yellow ‘space awareness’ products. They are being more and more recognised and

My Anxious Dog has a brilliant range of collars, leads, harnesses, and accessories for your dog, plus clothing for you. They feature different messages, like DO NOT TOUCH and ANXIOUS to help support you.

It can help people quickly understand what your dog needs and goes really well with your rehearsed message asking people to give you space.

These are a small selection:


Yellow Padded Y “Anxious” Harness – (size 5) Large

Yellow Anxious Lightweight Raincoat – Small

Muzzle up

Some people find their dog wearing a muzzle has a number of benefits.

If your dog is worried to the point of snapping or biting if approached, wearing a comfortable, kind and well-fitting muzzle will keep everyone safe. Make sure they can pant, drink and eat food through it.

Wearing a muzzle also sends a clear signal to others that other people and dogs shouldn’t approach your dog.

Muzzles are also great if your dog is prone to picking up or eating rubbish, sticks, or poop that they find!

You dog might not need to wear a muzzle, but it could be paired with a yellow space awareness product to help people give you some distance.

Always introduce equipment like muzzles with positive training games like the Cone game. Watch how to teach this to be fun with my YouTube video here  – https://youtu.be/N_BsWuK-rSY

If you would like some more support right now, you can book a free Discovery call with me. Click here to go straight through to my diary. https://app.acuityscheduling.com/schedule.php?owner=18730091&appointmentType=17828172

You can also get training ideas, accountability and emotional support when you need it in my membership. Join a community of dog-lovers that know what it’s like to have a dog that struggles. Pup Talk The Pack membership is for dog and puppy parents, who want to give their dogs the best life possible. https://pup-talk.mykajabi.com/the-pack

For more help, you can download my free guide 10 TIPS TO HELP YOUR DOG BOUNCE BACK FROM BEING SCARED BY ANOTHER DOG https://go.puptalk.co.uk/10-tips-to-help-your-dog-bounce-back-from-being-scared-landing-page/


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