What To Do When An Off Leash Dog Attacks

What To Do When An Off Leash Dog Attacks

Unfortunately, there may be times when your on-leash greyhound is rushed by an off-leash dog. Even the friendliest of greyhounds in such a socially unequal situation may not appreciate this forced interaction.


Be observant - and avoid a potential situation. Stay calm.


Walk with a contact leash as opposed to a long leash. If you get nervous and start shortening your leash, your greyhound may sense any tension or fear you may have. This may change their body language, which can become a stressor for the off-leash dog. 


When you see an off-leash dog, assess the situation. Can you make space? Cross the street? Can you walk up a driveway? Can you put your greyhound on top of a parked car? Can you put a parked vehicle between you and the off-leash dog? Try not to turn your back on the off-leash dog. 


Be vocal! Call out “Whose dog is this?!” Make it known that you are not safe and possibly in danger. If the owner is identified and lets you know their dog ‘is friendly’ - DO NOT BELIEVE IT. Call back that you are training, or that your greyhound was recently attacked by an off leash dog, or that your greyhound is sick and possibly contagious. 


Protect your on-leash greyhound. Take a stance between your on-leash dog and the oncoming off leash dog. Be still. Push your shoulders back, stick your chest out and square your hips. Hold your hand out in a “STOP” motion. Use a strong, deep, confident and authoritative deep voice to shout out firm commands like ‘NO!’, “STOP”!, “STAY!”, “GO HOME!” or even “SIT!”


What not to do:

  • Do not be fooled by a wagging tail. Not all wagging tails are happy go lucky tail wags! Same with yawns - they are not necessarily because the dog is tired! 

  • Do not look the dog in the eyes. Do not reach out to touch the dog. Do not show your own teeth. You can try yawning and lip-licking to signify deference or avoidance. 

  • Do not wave your arms or kick your legs. The off leash dog may perceive these actions as threatening

  • Do not run away. Now you really ARE a toy. 


Decide whether your on-leash greyhound would be safer if you dropped the leash. This is a HARD decision for the flight and loss risk that can happen. However - there are times where your greyhound will be better off not being restricted by the leash and to run away. 


If a dog fight happens, 

  • DO NOT SCREAM - this can often escalate the situation 

  • Do not reach in to try and pull them apart. Not only will you likely get bit, you only have two hands - and there are TWO dogs. 

  • Grab the off-leash dog by the tail or rear legs and pull it up and away towards you, trying to lift his back legs off the ground. 

  • Kick the softest parts of the off-leash dog, generally their underbelly - NOT the rib cage. You may need to inflict injury on the off-leash dog to save your own greyhound. 

  • Unleash your dog and use your leash to choke out the off-leash dog. 


Make sure to protect yourself as best you can. Judge the weight and height of the off-leash dog. Can you hit or kick the off-leash dog in the throat, nose or back of the head? If the dog jumps, lift your knee as high as you can to keep the dog from reaching your face. Cross your arms. Try to keep your fingers together, curled into a ball. If you find yourself on the ground, tuck your head under your arms and roll into a ball. Try not to move. Try not to cry out. If the dog latches on to a limb, do not try to pull it free. Go with the motion. The dog may bite and struggle harder, causing more injury. If you can, get on top of the off-leash dog and use your body weight to immobilize the dog. Concentrate weight pressure on the back of the neck and throat. 


How to prepare?

  • If you know of a persistent leash law violator, report them! 

  • Carry a Fox-40 whistle or a whistle in the 67-45,000 Hz level.

  • Carrying a collapsible umbrella. 

  • Avoid walking by houses where there is a territorial or aggressive dog. Or - even walking by houses that have dogs and yards with fences that are unsatisfactory or not secure. 

  • Train your dog with serpentines leash work to get them used to not reacting should you suddenly change direction. 

  • Practice purposeful stances on your walks, and having your greyhound come in behind you. Follow this up with walking backwards with your greyhound behind you. 

  • Wear sold shoes when walking - not flip flops which can be easily tripped over or slip off. 

  • Make sure that your dog is licensed with the local animal control. 


What to do afterwards?

  • Write down as much information as possible - date, time location. 

  • Take photos of the area. See if there are any surveillance cameras. 

  • Try to get witness information.

  • Call the police. Call animal control. 

  • Try to determine if the off-leash dog is up to date on rabies. 

  • Seek medical attention for yourself and your greyhound.

  • Get your greyhound out with other dogs. This will help prevent shut down and help them move past the incident. The sooner the better - obviously after medical care. 


GGA does not advise carrying bear spray, pepper spray or other items that are deemed prohibited or restricted weapons under the Criminal Code. This includes a knife that opens automatically by gravity or centrifugal force, as well as any device designed to be used for the purpose of injuring, immobilizing or otherwise incapacitating any person by the discharge of tear gas, mace or other gas, or any liquid, spray, powder or other substance that is capable of injuring, immobilizing or otherwise incapacitating any person. Aside from the straight illegalness, there is a potential risk of blow-back into your own eyes or your own greyhound’s eyes, as well as trigger a further attack.



Gillian Lee