“Black German Shepherd” by Charles Willgren is licensed under CC BY 2.0

What’s the best approach if you see a strange dog coming your way while you and your German Shepherd are on a walk?

First, make sure your GSD is on a leash. Whether the other dog is on leash or off, you can’t avoid an encounter with the other dog if you can’t control your dog, so call your GSD to you and snap a leash on.

Once the leash is on your dog, move out of range of the other dog if at all possible. If not possible, talk in a happy voice to your dog, laughing, singing if need be, and encourage them to keep walking with you. As much as possible, ignore the other dog. Feed your dog treats, offer him or her a favorite toy or stick, or break into a light jog.

If the other dog approaches and insists on greeting, keep your German Shepherd moving. Do not allow the greeting to turn into a spat. When possible, call out to the owner of an unleashed dog and ask them to leash their dog at least while you pass. This is polite etiquette, whether on trails, the street, or just out in the field.

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