What to do when off leash dogs charge at a puppy?

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Barked: Sun Dec 9, '12 7:56am PST 
I was walking in a local forest with my 20 week old Miniature Australian Shepherd. He was on leash as this is a bylaw in my area. Two middle aged ladies both with full grown Labs were walking with their dogs off leash. As we approached them the two Labs ran towards us, away from their owners. Worried of what the Labs would do i picked up my puppy. Both Labradors proceeded to jump on me, barking and trying to get at my puppy. The owners did little to control their dogs. One lady yelled at me to put down my dog insisting that their dogs we friendly and would not bite. I yelled back at her to restrain their dogs. Once they did me and my pup continued our walk.
My question is I've heard it's bad to pick up your puppy when another dog runs towards it because your dog senses your fear, is that true? Wouldnt it be worse to let 2 larger hyper dogs to run at and jump on a puppy? Wouldnt that make him more fearful?
I am really curiouse what others would have done in the same situation.
Side note: My dog and I attend socialization and training classes and he is well behaved around other dogs we meet on walks.

More Bored- Collies
Barked: Sun Dec 9, '12 8:13am PST 
I would recommend putting yourself between your pup and the oncoming dogs.
Lifting the pup off the ground is going to encourage the rampant large dogs to jump at you and potentially knock you over or knock the pup out of your hands.

I like to carry a "walking stick" for situations such as these. You can use them to ensure that you can block your pup as well as help keep a distance between yourself and the strange dogs.
(This is not for hitting the dogs obviously, but to create a barrier)

Admittedly I am guilty of breaking leash laws in wooded areas, however my dogs are kept under control around on-coming people. Especially when there is a leashed pup involved. The way these women reacted was appalling.

Whippy- The- Whipador
Barked: Sun Dec 9, '12 8:16am PST 
I remember when i took Ty out for his first ever walk at 13 weeks old. We went somewhere specifically quiet so he wouldn't be to overwhelmed by all the new experiences etc. But half way down the field a man and his three Labs were approaching. All three Labs zoomed in on Ty and proceeded to sniff him, circle him etc. Ty was unsure as you'd imagine, but i didn't do anything. I spoke to him in a high pitched kind of way just telling him what a good boy he was etc to keep the mood light and fun. The owner of the Labs didn't really do anything either but the dogs soon followed him once he walked by. In my opinion it's just experiences that a puppy will encounter, especially here because there are no leash laws so it's something that we have to expect.
As you experienced, picking a puppy up can make the other dogs more interested and the jumping up, trying to get at the puppy could make the pup more intimidated and/or fearful, especially if you yourself are acting worried. It's hard to weigh up these situations sometimes but my general advice would be to allow your pup to meet the other dogs and you act as normal as possible. Keep things fun and upbeat.

Sanka- I'll Miss- You

The ground is my- newspaper.
Barked: Sun Dec 9, '12 8:35am PST 
I would try to read the body language of the dogs first before assuming the worst.

Most pups that young would probably be a bit fearful of dogs approaching them too. I'd just try to greet the dogs myself and try to make the best of the situation. If the pup is really frightened, I'd call out to the owners and tell them so. I've found that most dog owners are usually quick to respond when their dogs are scaring puppies.

Most dogs will usually head to your dog first, but sometimes if you offer your hand or attention, they'll get distracted.

I've found the quickest way to get them to go away is to let them investigate. The less they get, the more they want.

It most certainly doesn't make it right for their owners to let them. And I'm not suggesting to always cave, but in my experience, doing so just lets things go over more smoothly and is much quicker too.

Most people who let their dogs off leash knowing their dogs are going to run over to other people don't care that much about other people in that regard. But being nice to them usually lets you become close enough to where they'll be happy to help out and get their dogs faster or grab them when they see you out too.

All in all, I try to put a positive spin on it.

It ain't over- till the fat- kitty sings
Barked: Sun Dec 9, '12 10:19am PST 
I agree with Sanka. Sophie and I walk offleash at a nearby reservation regularly. We often see the same people and dogs every week, a circle of owners who are comfortable and confident about their dogs social skills. It's quite possible the dogs you meet on the trail can be an enriching experience for your pup. But you just try to stay calm and read the body language. Happy Trails!!!snoopysnoopysnoopy

I dig in mud- puddles!
Barked: Sun Dec 9, '12 11:57am PST 
My actions would depend on several factors:

-my ability to accurately read the body language of strange dogs (are they just socially awkward and/or rude or are they actually out to start trouble?)
-my puppy's comfort level with greeting rude dogs (and the potential for my puppy to be overwhelmed by the approaching dogs)
-the behaviour of the approaching dogs' owners (will they call their dogs back when you ask them to?)

My immediate, knee-jerk reaction whenever I see loose dogs approaching us is to call out for the owners to call their dogs (I walk in on-leash areas).

As Cobain has suggested, I would start carrying a walking stick to block approaching dogs. Friendly or not, dogs charging towards another dog are being rude, and I personally would be cautious about your pup potentially having a really negative experience with strange dogs.

Beauty and the- Beast
Barked: Sun Dec 9, '12 2:52pm PST 
I am glad you puppy did not have a negative experience. I think anyone's first instinct reaction would be to pick up their puppy. Two dogs running at you, you certainly have no time to assess the dogs temperament or intent.

Some dog owners are so irresponsible with their dogs. If an area says "on leash only", that is what the rules are in order for you to enjoy the land with your dog without worry or harm to the rest of the public enjoying the woods/park also. People who let their dogs run loose at a "leash only" area is just going to ruin it in the future for people that do walk their dogs on a leash.

I have a older rescue dog that has issues with dogs running at her. She will stand her ground but will be like a wolverine if they get within an inch of her. I get pretty ticked when I walk on a "leash area" and have to deal with dogs running loose at her. She is really good with dogs that do approach slowly or on leash.

Anyhow, end of my rant. Please be considerate to other people and don't let your dogs run loose on a leashed area - it is just being selfish.

Fritz, cats are- fun when they- run
Barked: Sun Dec 9, '12 9:14pm PST 
I would pick up my puppy just as you did. As long as you didn't yank him off of the ground and scare him, it should be fine. The people with the off leash dogs were jerks.

As a matter of fact, we have two small dogs in our pack. If large dogs are coming our way, they get picked up just to be safe.

High-flyin' Pup!
Barked: Mon Dec 10, '12 1:00am PST 
If we're in an area where dogs are supposed to be leashed and people let their dogs(on or off leash) approach mine without asking me, I say "Oh, he's got kennel cough/ringworm/giardia, you might want to keep an eye on your dog because it's contagious!".

People letting their dogs greet mine without talking to me first is a HUGE pet peeve. When she had teeth, Star was likely to take a piece out of any strange dog or person who approached her! Wilbur is also unpredictable. Jasper is the only really social dog of the three, but people should still have the common decency to check with me first.
Charlie- Brown Cocoa- Puffs

Barked: Mon Dec 10, '12 4:10am PST 
lol. jasper thats awesome. i've been in dog fights with just about every breed of dog there is. thats better then anything i've done. i'm using it next time. 90% of the reason i have been in so many dog fights is because of irresponsible pet owners who think it's just fine to let their dogs run loose. it's not fine, ever! it doesn't matter if it's a pug(my worst bite was from a pug) or a bull mastif, they need to b on a leash. as far as picking the dog up. in some cases that is the right thing to do. however, where people make mistakes is they end up holding lil fluffy between them and the dogs. so like a chew toy. granted if you know how to read a dogs body language (however annoying it is) 9 times outta 10 loose dogs just wanna play. so, back to the original question. if loose dogs come up to you don't rely on the owners to take control of their dogs. they have allready lost control. you have to control the situation wether it is a playful one or an aggressive one.
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