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What should I do if a dog approaches me off lead?

Column by Sara Barnes, of Who Lets Your Dog Out?, Grantham

The pandemic has seen an estimated 5,000 new dogs become residents in Lincolnshire, which for dog lovers is not a concern, but for those that don’t like dogs this can be a real concern.

There is an argument that only dogs that have perfect recall should be off lead, but even the dogs with the best recall have a mind of their own and decide to ignore the call from their owner/walker to come back.

Sara Barnes, of Who Lets Your Dog Out? in Grantham. (44219425)
Sara Barnes, of Who Lets Your Dog Out? in Grantham. (44219425)

When this happens there are a number of dos and don’ts that even as a non-dog lover you can do to stop the dog harassing you and making you feel uncomfortable.

Please remember in most instances the dog is just interested and wants to play and say hello.


  • Don’t flail your arms, just keep your arms to the sides of your body – the dog will interpret you waving your arms around as a signal to play
  • Don’t shout at the dog, especially in a high pitched tone – a high pitched tone will make the dog think you are excited and again want to play
  • Don’t run away from the dog – again they may take this as an invitation to play.
  • Don’t put your hands in your pockets – hands in pockets is often a signal for dogs that there are treats in the pocket and they may jump up to try and get the imagined treats.


  • Remain calm – the dog will be able to sense this.
  • If the dog does try to jump up or get too close, push away with a flat hand, turn your back and if you are confident to say a firm ‘no’ or ‘off’ in a low commanding tone.
  • Either stand still or slowly walk away from the dog, ignoring them as much as possible.
  • Listen to the person in charge of the dog, they might ask you to do something specific to help them get the dog back under control.

If you are genuinely being attacked, please defend yourself.

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