3 Strategies For Safely Catching a Loose Dog

Posted by nhshnds on May 8, 2018 at 10:30 AM

I recently found myself in a critical situation trying to prevent a loose dog from being run over in heavy traffic.  The anxious pup was weaving in and out of traffic lanes trying to get across a median to the other side.  Traffic had come to crawl and we were three cars back before we saw the reason why.  Good citizens were stopping to let the dog get out of their way, but, unfortunately some not so patient (or good natured) were going around the slowed cars honking their horns and the poor dog didn't know which way to turn without seeing metal and rubber.  I had my daughter pull over to the side of the road, jumped out and yelled a hopeful "Come on, Come get a treat!"  in the hopes this pup knew the sound and spelling of the word  T R E A T S :)  Whether it was the word TREATS or the hopeful inflection of my voice, the pup turned, stopped and stared.  I squatted down and began to clap my hands and to my joy he came to me.  Now, how was I going to keep this HUGE, heavy pit bull mix with me and out of the road.  I had my daughter get out and open the door and immediately the big fella jumped in the front seat.  He was so big and my car was so small that I had to literally push on his butt to get the door closed.  I squeezed into the back seat to observe my daughter hanging half out of her driver window to avoid the slurps of thankfulness and drool from the thought of  T R E A T S.   It was a happy ending for this pup as we were able to get him to his owner almost within the hour. 

So....what to do if your pet is a runner or you run across another loose dog that needs your help?  The following article offers some good tips.

3 Strategies For Safely Catching A Loose Dog

by Amber Kingon May 02, 2018

Whether it’s your dog that slipped their leash or a stray running through traffic, catching a loose dog is never as easy as it sounds. Your first instinct is to give chase, but that rush of energy is rarely the right move. Dogs that are afraid, skittish, or simply overly excited will do everything they can to elude your grasp—even when that means putting themselves in danger. If you want to bring your flighty pup back home safely, you’ll have to resist the urge to run after them and try these safer strategies.


#1 – Stop, Drop, and Freeze

One of the best strategies for catching a loose dog is doing the exact opposite of what they think you’ll do. If your dog thinks they’re playing a fun game of “catch me if you can,” they’re expecting you to chase them down. It’s your job to remember the game is rigged, and their superior speed and agility means you’ll most likely lose. Take control of the game by throwing a curve ball. You’ll feel silly, but stop where you are and sit or lay down on the ground. Don’t call the dog’s name or pat your leg to get them to come over. They’ll either be intrigued by your strange behavior or worried there’s something wrong with you, and they’ll quit the game to investigate.

#2 – Use Calming Signals

If the dog you’re trying to catch is especially skittish—like a stray with few experiences with humans—your go-to moves will look like a threat. Walking directly toward the dog, holding out your hand, patting your leg, and making eye contact will only make them feel more afraid. Instead of overwhelming them with your eagerness, speak their language and use canine calming signals. Only look at them with peripheral vision and make all your movements lateral instead of direct. Yawning and licking your lips are translated to calming signals in doggy language, and kneeling to make your body look less imposing will also encourage them to come to you.

#3 – Appeal to Their Appetite

Few dogs can resist the temptation of a good treat. If it’s your pet you’re trying to catch, simply holding a treat in your hand could get their attention. But if the pup doesn’t trust you, start by tossing treats a few feet away. Let them approach the food on their own terms. Once they eat the first one, you can start tossing the good stuff a little closer to you. When they’re eating treats in your general vicinity without hesitation, sit on the ground and extend an especially high-value food item in your hand. Be patient and don’t make sudden movements or noises.

Doing the wrong thing when trying to catch a loose dog could send them running into traffic or threaten them enough that they lash out with fearful aggression. Panic is contagious, and if you yell, run, or act overly stressed, you’ll pass those feelings on to the dog. If you can stay calm and encourage the dog to do the same, you’ll have a better shot at a happy ending.

Written by Amber King

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