Protecting Your Dog with an... Umbrella?!
During a dog trainer round table that I attended recently, famed dog trainer and behaviorist, Trish King, described her favorite way to keep unleashed, out of control, dogs from getting to close. I was all ears as my previous dog was attacked twice, resulting in lasting psychological damage. For those of us with small dogs, a large aggressive dog can be deadly so the more ideas we have to protect our precious dogs, the better!
She recommended carrying an umbrella in a small back pack along with your other dog walking supplies. When a dog approaches that you want to keep away from you, just open the umbrella towards the dog. The movement of the umbrella opening will generally startle the dog enough to make it go away so you can continue on your merry way (after feeding your dog a treat for tolerating these strange goings-ons). This method would be helpful for keeping dogs away from your fearful or aggressive dog as well as keeping unknown or aggressive dogs from approaching your friendly dog.
She added that for an even more effective deterrent, you can paint large eyes on the umbrella (also a fun craft project!).
I have not tried the umbrella method yet myself, but I have successfully used Spray Shield, citronella spray to keep dogs away and have found that to be very effective. However, I can see where the umbrella might be a more powerful deterrent in some cases since it is more visually obvious to the approaching dog and is a physical barrier as well.
If you are ready to try this out in your neighborhood walks, be sure to first teach your dog that a quickly opening umbrella is nothing to worry about. You can practice this in your home by first teaching your dog that the closed umbrella is a wonderful thing that makes tasty treats appear. Then open the umbrella a tiny bit and have more treats appear. Continue this process until you can open it all the way with your dog looking expectantly for the treat "rain".
As Trish quipped, one of the best things about the "Defend-a-Brella" is that if it rains, you are ready for that too!"
Please feel free to leave a comment below and let us know what you think!