Recently a co-worker of mine was walking her sweet dog when a car passed by with a dog in it. The dog wasn't secured with a leash, or a seat belt, and jumped out the open car window and attacked her dog. Being an experienced dog handler, my co-worker was able to slow the dog fight from progressing to the worst result, but unfortunately, her dog had to be rushed to the emergency room and received intensive care for all the puncture wounds to her neck.
When she was ready to talk about the incident, she commented that she always felt safe walking her dog, as she used a secure, easy-walk harness and leash, and is constantly paying attention to the environment around her. She felt helpless when the attack evolved, since her dog was on leash, and the attacker was not (it took a few moments for the owners to pull their car over and get across the busy street).
My only defense in this situation would have been dog treats. I've watched countless videos, over and over again, and have watched, stunned, on how many dogs will be in full sprint, after a squirrel, another dog, or their master, and low and behold, some magical treats are tossed on the ground, in the dogs' path, and they stop dead in their tracks to sniff them out, and of course, enjoy them.
I'm writing this post to remind all of you, whether you have a reactive rover or not, that the benefit of ALWAYS having treats with you can really save you from a lot of threatening scenarios. Treats are a great distraction tool, I think we all know this. They are great for lowering high-arousal situations, such as meeting new people on the street that insist on ooo-ing and awe-ing over your pup, causing them to abort everything you have trained them thus far. BUT, if you bring treats into the equation, ask for a sit, and dispense a few treats while the newbies start to pet, and ooo and awe over your pup, suddenly they are much less likely to act like the puppy you once brought home!
On walks, I always bring an abundance of dog treats, especially since I walk my two dogs together, a lot, there are some situations that can get uncontrollable, quick. I also like to bring a water bottle if I'm ever going to take my dogs off leash, in case of high-arousal situations like humping, occur with unfamiliar dogs, or inappropriate barking at the gate, or fence. A water bottle and small bowl is always helpful as the weather starts to get warmer, and of course, a secure harness and leash...it's so important these fit properly, you'd be surprised how quickly these guys can wiggle out when they're stimulated or highly distracted!
Being more prepared is always in our best interest, because no matter how well trained our dogs are, and how educated we are as dog owners, there are always going to be those that just don't know any better, and it's our duty, as dog owners, to make sure we provide a safe environment, no matter what obstacles come our way!
Happy and safe adventures with your pups!