As someone who walks dogs in a large pack, people often ask how we deal with off-leash dogs and other oncoming traffic. First of all, I stay away from off-leash areas. Simply put, I set up our pack for success and choose environments where I know my pack will thrive. But, of course, there's always that one guy who chooses not to abide by the rules and selfishly takes their dog off-leash and the dog has little to no recall... ugh. Here we go.
With oncoming off-leash dogs or with owners who can't control their on-leash dogs, I check my energy, I stay calm, and I keep walking. If the charging dog is coming in hot and I have space to step aside with my pack, I choose a safe area where I can protect them behind me and direct the dogs in front of me. If they come close, I make noise and interrupt the aggressor's behavior before they can make contact. It's instinctual for your dog to go into fight or flight mode in stressful moments, so it's important to have a level head and take charge of the situation before it escalates. I have never had a dog come up to my pack and make contact before as I create a calm environment of trust with each of our dogs individually. They know that I'll protect them, so they may respond, but won't react. My philosophy with dogs is simple. You have to advocate for your dog or they will advocate for themselves. Be responsible. Be the adult. Please leash your dogs for your own safety and the safety of others.