How to Walk Your Dog Safely

How to Walk Your Dog Safely | Tips from On Sutton PlaceI’ve been thinking about writing this post for a while now, but couldn’t make myself sit down and actually do it…until today. I am not an expert but I have learned a few tips that will help keep you and your dog safe while walking. I’ve shared over the past several weeks what happened to Kelly and me when we were on an evening walk. A large, loose dog attacked Kelly and tore apart her hind end.  She had 16+ staples and for a few days after the attack I wasn’t sure she was going to make it. She did though and seems to be back to normal. For that I am grateful beyond measure. I know that bad things happen to good people (and dogs.) I also know that when something bad happens it is our responsibility to learn from it and if possible, prevent it from happening again. So that’s what I’m doing.

I have gone over and over the 20 seconds it took for Kelly to be injured. Deep down I know it wasn’t my fault, but I feel responsible. She was with me and I know now what I could have done differently. That’s what I’m sharing today. If this post helps even one dog owner avoid what I went though, it will have served its purpose.

1. Keep your dog in front of or beside you. NOT BEHIND.

The night Kelly got hurt was beautiful and we walked further than usual. She was lagging behind me towards the end and I knew she was tired. That’s when she was attacked. The dog came at us from across the street and behind. If Kelly had been beside me, or better yet in front of me, I could have picked her up. I know the dog experts say your dog should always walk a few steps behind you. Respecting your authority and all that. Personally, I will never do that again and I hope you don’t either. Keep your dog close and always in your line of sight.

How To Walk Your Dog Safely | Tips from On Sutton Place2. Don’t use a retractable leash.

Since we brought Kelly home as a baby, we have used a retractable leash. I honestly didn’t know that it even mattered. When the dog grabbed Kelly, I held on to the leash but got tangled up in the cord when I was knocked to the ground. The cord wrapped around one hand and I had cuts on a few fingers. I am grateful it wasn’t worse because I could have lost a finger or two. If you use a retractable leash, throw it away and get a regular one. As soon as possible.

3. Always take your cell phone.

After the attack, I had to carry Kelly about 3 blocks back to our house. My husband was out of town and there was no one to call for help. However, I was able to call my Vet’s office and talk to the answering service. (The girl I spoke with was extremely nice. She told me to stop and take a breath so I could tell her what happened.) I was about halfway home when the Dr. called me back. She told me not to put Kelly down when I got home, but to get right in the car and go to their office. She was waiting for me when I got there. Her quick response and advice helped me so much. I am grateful I had my phone with me.

How To Walk Your Dog Safely | Tips from On Sutton Place4. DO NOT wear earbuds.

I know this tip won’t be popular but just hear me out. I was listening to music that night and because of that, I didn’t hear the dog come at us. The dog was barking but of course it was extremely muffled by my earbuds. It wasn’t until I heard Kelly’s yelp that I turned around and saw what was going on. If I had NOT been wearing earbuds, I may have heard the dog come across the street. I don’t know that for sure of course, but it makes sense.

kelly the blog dog july 20145. Look around and pay attention.

This is my most important piece of advice. My biggest regret from that night is that I wasn’t paying attention. I was walking along, listening to music, lost in my own little world. That will never happen again. Not only because I’m still a little afraid, but because I learned the hard way to look around and be observant. Scan what is ahead of you. Look around to the left and right. Just be alert.

A few good things came out of this experience. First, the attack dog no longer lives in our neighborhood. Kelly’s attack was that dog’s second offense. This will not be happening a third time to another family. Second, the whole experience made me so thankful that my children were healthy growing up and never experienced a serious injury. Believe me I am counting my blessings on that. Last, this brought our family closer together as we rallied around our little dog. My kids were texting numerous times a day. I think we broke the “send me a pic” record during the days following the attack. My husband was devastated, but true to form, he did what he does best. He took control of the situation, spoke to all the right people, and was the one responsible for having the dog removed from our neighborhood.

By writing this post, I am officially putting this whole thing behind me. Thank you all a million times for listening. I cherish each and every one of you. Happy Friday…hope your weekend is perfect.

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  1. That’s really adorable to see how the dog can walk safely infact I have my dog kennel to keep him safe and a few days ago I bring a dog fence to keep tracking what my dog is doing.

  2. Hi Ann,
    It’s five years later and I hope everything turned out okay with Kelly! Even though my head knew so much time had passed, my heart broke for both of you. I actually cried reading this. I was picturing that sweet little face and how scared she must have been when that big dog attacked her and of course you being terrified as well. I know I would have been shaking uncontrollably.
    Our little Chinese Crested Powder Puff is a headstrong little girl and always tries to walk ahead of us. I curb that on our walks because in our area, there have been coyotes that get into our gated community (even with six foot block walls, eeek!—they are great jumpers ) I always want her to be close to me so that no matter what I can grab her and try to keep her safe in my arms. I’d rather try to fight with my height and weight than have my 13 pound little girl attacked!

    Thank you so much for all the tips. And I just want to say I look forward to all your emails and I enjoy your blog very much!


  3. I’m so sorry to hear about your dog, I hope she has recovered well. I completely agree with getting rid of retractable leashes. My husband and I were walking our Labrador one night a few years ago when she saw a squirrel. She has been raised as a hunting dog, so of course she went after it! I was caught in between my husband, who was holding the leash, and the running dog. The cord of the leash wrapped around both of my legs, knocking me to the ground and creating awful, awful rope burn around my knees. The fall knocked my breath away, and when I was able to stand, we saw my legs were shredded because I was wearing shorts. It was a very painful experience and involved a few stitches, days of hobbling and sleepless nights. I am terrified of retractable leashes now and will not go anywhere near a dog being walked on one! I have three 6″ + scars on each leg. I enjoyed the features of our leash while walking our dog, but they can also be very dangerous!

    1. Oh my gosh Meagan…I am so glad you are OK but how awful for that to happen to you. I can’t believe I used a retractable leash for so long and had no idea how unsafe it was. Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment…Ann

  4. I just read this post and I am so sorry to hear about poor Kelly! I am glad she is better, I think your advice about the earbuds is great for everyone, not just if you are walking with your dog. You should always be able to hear your environment, this could keep you from being mugged

  5. Sarah Finlayson says:

    So sorry to hear your beautiful Schnauzer got attacked and hurt and I’m glad that she’s getting better. We have a Mini Schnauzer too called Gibbs (it was the eyebrows!!) and I will take note of your advice so we stay safe

    1. Sarah Finlayson says:

      ps. We’re all the way over in England. The Schnauzer love is being spread far and wide!!

  6. I must have missed this post. So sorry to hear this happened. What a relief she is ok! Great advice – and I agree with you on those retractable leashes. My neighbor cut her hand on hers.
    Take care, Shelley

  7. Great advice! Thank you for writing this post. I would also add that if you have multiple dogs, especially multiple large dogs that you cant pick up with both hands, take a partner. We were attacked while walking our dogs but fortunately there were two of us. My husband held the attacking dog while I hustled our three away. If either of us had been alone the final outcome would have been far worse than a few stitches and a sprained finger.

  8. I’m glad Kelly and you are recovering from this ordeal. Excellent tips for walking safely. I have two small Yorkies and safety on walks is a major concern. Staying in tune with my dogs and alert to our surroundings is vital. It’s sad that loose dogs are such a pervasive problem.

  9. Also, if you get bit by the dog, make sure you follow up with the owner of the other dog to make sure it has had its rabies shots, I know if it happens outside of your neighborhood, its hard to follow up and you definitely want to scream profanities at the owner, but make sure you keep your head long enough to get their email so they can send you shot records. If your dog is seriously hurt, then don’t even bother, just get them straight to the vet, but after they are well cared for, make sure you get your rabies shot just in case. If your dog is up to date on their shots, it isn’t a problem. But for sure if you get bit be sure the other dog has had its shots.

  10. I had my Aussie get attacked earlier this year by a boxer and she is too big to just be scooped up and out of danger. He hit her so hard it ripped the leash out of my hand. Luckily she wasn’t hurt, just a little scratch on her face. Another thing to add is to carry something that you can potentially make a lot of noise with, I have something called a Pet Corrector which delivers a big blast of air to startle the other dog, you could even carry an air horn if you wanted to. At the time of it happening, we had pepper spray with us, but it happened so quickly we didn’t have the chance to use it. If you do carry pepper spray, make sure its in your hand, and also don’t worry about spraying your own dog. Irritation from pepper spray is far better than what could potentially happen if you do not break up the fight quickly enough. Finally, always report it when it happens. You don’t want it happening to you or another family or a child. The threat of being punished usually encourages owners to be more responsible with their dog. I know that things happen so fast sometimes its hard to be able to use any techniques. Thanks for the tips! I hope your fur baby feels better xxx

  11. I was fortunate that my little Tamilu was at my side when a dog came out of nowhere and I, thank goodness, was able to scoop her up before she got hurt. I can’t remember ever screaming “NO” so loudly that I think I scared the big dog. Thanks for sharing your story and tips!!!

  12. Nanita Noonr says:

    Thank you for this valuable information. I have benefited tremendously from your tragedy and intend to share your advice with both family and friends.

    1. You are most welcome. I know this sort of thing will still happen but if we are alert and pay attention the chances are much less.
      Thank you for taking the time to comment!

  13. I mostly agree with your tips- however- having a dog walk in front of you is even worse than letting it lag behind! In order to have control of your dog and any situation that may arise, the dog should be by your side. It’s frustrating when other dog owners let their pups wander in front of them and give me an evil eye when their dog lunges and starts nonsense with my dog.

  14. I’m so glad your girl is on the mend. I love these tips. I have a blind Peke mix, who barks at everything. I’m always on the alert when we walk, because we have several large dogs that roam our neighborhood. I actually didn’t start carrying the cell phone until my daughter’s dog started walking with us. He slipped out of his collar and was gone in an instant. I couldn’t drag my blind girl all around looking for him, and I didn’t have my phone to call my daughter. Luckily, I was almost home, so I dropped her off. I found him quickly, but the phone goes with me all the time now.

  15. Jennifer Christenberry says:

    First, I am so glad that she was ultimately okay. We have a schnauzer (and I have always had schnauzers) and therefore the picture caught my attention. I too have been out for a walk with my dog when he was attacked. Fortunately, he was not injured. It has been my experience that parents will allow young children to walk dogs that are larger than them and can not control. This was the circumstances of the attacks we have experienced. Please don’t allow your children to walk your dog unsupervised. You never know what may set off an otherwise docile dog.

  16. I am so glad you are both OK now. I can’t tell you the number of times my beautiful and very timid Golden Retriever has been attacked (usually by smaller dogs) while we have been walking around our wonderful neighborhood. I can’t pick her up but there have been times when I have straddled her so I could kick the attacker if it came too close. The worse time was when a corgi ran out at us while the owner stood and watched and I screamed at both of them. After the dumb thing went back into the yard, we proceeded down the street and it ran out again, still while the owner watched. I finally had to turn around and take a different route. I have warned everyone about the stupid owner and dog. I would never have a dog I can’t trust with other dogs or people. When we are walking and another dog starts lunging at the end of its leash, she totally ignores it unless it can get too close and then she makes a large arc away from it or clings to my side.

  17. Please never pick up your dog when it is being attacked! It will probably not save your dog, and now the dog fight will be happening with the large dog jumping on you and lunging at your face to get to your dog. The situation would be much much worse if your face was bleeding the way your dogs hind end was. I have been volunteering at my local shelter for almost 8 years and give a safety class on dog walking for volunteers. We cannot impress enough on volunteers to not get between or reach in to separate dogs that are fighting. years ago my husband’s dog was attacked while he was on a walk. the dog jumped the fence and came after them. My husband tried to grab his dog by the collar and his hand was severely bitten by his own dog. He had many stitches and excellent timely medical care but the wound became infected anyway. At one point he worried that he would lose the mobility in his hand. Dog fights are terrible, always protect yourself first. The fact that you were OK meant that you could get your dog to the vet as soon as possible.

  18. So glad your puppy is safe now. My two girls I walk in a puppy stroller for that very reason. After a friends Bichon was almost killed by a Lab. Mine are smaller than yours, but when I used to walk them I put them only in a sturdy harness just so I could pull them up quickly in my arms. We have kept them safe even with their own car seats with seat belts. Just wish we could keep them longer. We are losing our 13 year old girl in the near future. So love yours like crazy as give her tons of attention. They are the best part of my family.

  19. Hi Ann,

    I have two miniature schnauzers, Manny MacMurphy and Dolly Lama, and love them like my children. I can only imagine your ordeal with Kelly! It’s wonderful to hear she’s healed and I hope not too scarred, physically or emotionally, by the whole thing. That goes for you as well!

    I have walked my dogs all over in neighborhoods, parks, trails. We were rushed once, shortly after I got my Dolly Lama, by two large dogs that I know attacked a small dog in the neighborhood and hurt her so badly she almost didn’t make it. Needless to say, both my dogs and I were incredibly upset by that encounter, even though no one was hurt, except the other dog owner when he threw himself on his dogs and fell to the ground. We have seen so many dogs out loose, large and small. Normally, yelling and backing away helps but I’m always afraid it won’t. My little Dolly almost immediately goes into attack mode if she sees another dog, particularly larger ones. It’s been 2 yrs since that happened and I am FINALLY getting her to the point that she will SOMETIMES ignore the other dogs.

    We have been rushed so many times that now I carry a stun gun and a retractable walking stick or a full size walking stick. I also try to walk them REALLY early in the morning when not many other people are out. I hadn’t even considered the dangers of walking two dogs together and will make sure I don’t walk them alone if possible. Unfortunately, irresponsible pet owners have really spoiled a lot of the fun we used to have on our walks.

    I wish you and Kelly many happy, safe walks together!

  20. Debbie Esparza says:

    Just want to tell you how much I am enjoying your blog. Love, love your style!

    Thank you for the informative post. Hope your sweet baby dog is doing much better, what a doll. Scary what happened to you on your walk. I have two sweet doggies and walk them as much as possible. I keep them a few steps in front of me always, and am always on guard for lurking dogs, I never walk with my dog behind me, as I want to see them at all times. It’s their time to have a day out and enjoy themselves! (What is up with all this domination anyway) I get such great joy just watching them smell the ground and air and wiggle their cute little butts!

    Keep up the great blogs, and be safe out there!

  21. Your dog should be at your left side, at your heel, anytime they are on leash. I also suggest that you always carry either a taser, a can of wasp spray (has a long stream and works better than mace) or a small air horn. Don’t hesitate to use them when a larger dog is threatening. I know this sounds crazy but picking up your dog will not deter a larger dog and could possibly get you bitten.

  22. Leslie Agramonte says:

    I feel so bad for you and for your little fur baby! The same thing happened to my little dog when she was only a year old. I was devastated! I was using one of those horrible retractable leashes, too. Cut my fingers up really bad! My poor little puppy was grabbed from behind and shook by a dachshund that broke loose from a rope that it’s owner had tied up to a tree at our neighborhood pool! I screamed and kicked at the dog until someone came running to help. My poor little dog Gracie was cut open on her stomach and was just shaking. I think if I had used a regular leash, this would never had happened to her. Thank goodness your puppy and my Gracie are ok!

    1. Leslie Agramonte says:

      The owner of the dog that bit my Gracie did not even pay for the vet bills! He did not even offer!

  23. How scary! I’ll pass on these tips to other fur parents. I hope Kelly is all better and that you can enjoy your walks again.

  24. I carry pepper spray when I take our dog for a walk. My husband was attacked while out walking the dog. He was able to pick up our dog and get away, but he’s a big guy. I don’t think I could have picked up North. Pepper spray is non-lethal and will by you time to get away from any attacker…animal or human.

  25. Kelly Fleming says:

    Great tips Ann thank you .One other thing I would do is not walk both my dogs together.I have a Cairne Terrier and a 5 lb Cockapoo .I would be able to carry the Cockapoo (,Biscuit) but my Cairns ( Rocky) is almost 30 lbs not able to carry him.If I walk both they are harder to manage.Thankfully I only walk him around our property and to the one neighbors .They both want to go in different directions. I also had a friend who walked a lot with and without her dog and used a large walking stick .It came in handy one day when a large dog charged her.She used the stick not to hit the dog but to keep his teeth from biting her.

  26. Love to go for walks with our dog. He is my nephews service dog. And he could walk off leash just as easy ason leash. We were told a big no with retractable leash. Some advice we were given was walk with an umbrella and when an attack seems possible open the umbrella and you have protection and the noise may scare dog off.

    1. Hi Tierney!
      Yes an umbrella is a good idea. One reader said she walks with a cane which is along the same lines. Thanks for your comment!

    2. Kelly Fleming says:

      That sounds better than a walking stick.

  27. Thank you, Ann, for sharing such practical tips from your awful experience. My daughter is dog sitting a dog for 4 months and I will pass this along to her. I am so sorry that this happened to you and your sweet dog.


  28. Ann, I’m so behind in my visiting that I missed this post! So glad that Kelly is on the mend physically, and I guess you’ll both have to take little “doggie” steps to get back to your walking routine. Our dog Lucy is always on a leash unless we turn her loose in the garden. I hate to admit that we sometimes have her on a retractable leash, and after reading your post and what others have said in their comments, I will throw that thing away! So glad your husband got the other dog removed from the neighborhood. Lucy sends hugs and kisses to Kelly!

  29. Karen On Bainbridge Island says:

    I agree those retractable leashes are not suitable for any dog. You cannot control your dog if need be, and then there is what happened to you.

    Your dog has better instincts than you do. Some advice I received long ago was that if your dog is attacked the first thing you should do is release the leash altogether. Your dog needs to be able to turn and fight his attacker or run away, both of which he/she cannot do if you hold on to the leash.

    Also, never pick up your dog, or both of you can be the victim of a dog who jumps up and lunges. Your dog will know if it’s better to heed the old adage fight or flight.

    I am very glad you and your pup are recovered.

    1. Hi Karen!
      My little dog was no match for the dog that attacked her. It was a greyhound shepherd mix. She could not have fought back. Flight would have been the only option for her but she really didn’t have a chance. Thank you for the advice and for stopping by!

  30. Marilyn Kinkel says:

    Poor little baby! We have been approached by larger dogs and have had to pick our little ones up immediately. We have mini dauchunds and they are so afraid of large dogs while being walked! So happy your little one is ok!

    1. Hi Marilyn!
      I so wish I could have picked Kelly up…but it all happened so fast. Thanks for your comment and for stopping by!

  31. Thank you for sharing Ann. I know that this was hard to write. Our sweet Izzy had an accident that I feel terrible about too. Even though it wasn’t my fault I still feel badly because he was with me. I am like you and no longer let Izzy walk behind. I always have him by my side or in front. I hate those retractable leashes they are awful.
    Big hugs and ear scratches for Kelly!

    1. Thanks Katie!
      Thanks for your sweet comment. Hope your little dog Izzy is OK!

    1. Thank you for stopping by Leigh…hope Jack is doing well. I try to keep up on Facebook but miss quite a bit. Have a great school year!

  32. Some really good advice Ann! I hope all take it to heart. So sorry to hear about your little baby dog and glad to hear Kelly is much better. Although I work in a safe community I always make myself aware of my surroundings, when at work, shopping etc. You just never know. For your safety as well as any pets that are with you.

    I remember years ago, I was shopping, alone, at a local mall. No reason to be afraid in this area, but I noticed a man following me in the stores and watching me. Luckily one of the store owners was a friend of mine so I went in that store and talked with the owner. In the meantime the man slipped into the movie theatre, next to the store that was in the mall. I’m sure he got nervous when I started talking to the owner.They walked me to my car, but it was scary. Who knows why he was following me and I was just glad to get out of there unscathed. And to top it off this was before people were carrying cell phones wherever they went.

    Thanks for the great advice!

    1. Hi MaryJean!
      I think the bottom line is we just have to pay attention. You were lucky to notice that man following you. Thank you for stopping by and for your comment!

  33. Thank you for sharing your experience with us. This is how we learn to take better care of our pets, by sharing valuable knowledge. I am sure this wasn’t an easy post for you to write, and to re-live through your words. So thank you for writing this post, and helping perhaps one of us to avoid this same situation in the future.

  34. I’m so sorry about the mishap with your little dog. There is no excuse for people having there dogs run loose, although there are to many dog owners who do not abide by that rule. I walk my two dogs together all the time and we have been approached by dogs occasionally. Thank goodness the dogs have never been aggressive. I hope your dog heals up and is good as new and the experience will never happen again.

    1. Thanks Marijean!
      I think for a while if we are approached by other dogs I will pick Kelly up. I am just too nervous still. I hope we can both get over that and not be afraid. Thanks for your kind words.

  35. Thank you for putting this post on the web. I am grateful this hasn’t happened but I have been thinking of using ear buds and listening to music. Not now.

    My little dog has been bitten by the neighbor dog and I had to kick it out of the way. Gave it a push with my foot so I could get Abby away from her.

    Again Thanks

    1. 99% of the time you would be OK with earbuds but it’s not worth it for that other 1% when something could happen. Thanks for your comment!

  36. I’m so sorry this happened to you and Kelly, but thank you for sharing what you’ve learned. I’m sure this will help many of us with our fur babies.

  37. Also important to use a harness that fits snugly so your dog can’t back out and get loose.

  38. valerie tower says:

    I’m so sorry that this happened to you and your dog. It must have been terrifying. I’m glad you both are okay. It was not your fault.

  39. Thank you so much for sharing this Ann and I am praying that all is well now with your “furrbaby”…I have just recently adopted a rescue beagle named “Bandit” and we take walks several times a day in our neighborhood….Your thoughts have helped me quite a bit because this is all so very new to me……I have not owned a dog in over 40 years but I must say “Bandit” is just what this old widowed (22 years) “gal” needed to bring sunshine & happiness into her life….

    “Bandit” and I will be praying that Kelly will be just fine and be able to enjoy taking her Mom for a walk again in a safe neighborhood……..That is always my fear that some big unleashed dog might come out and hurt my “Bandit” because I will admit he does have that “little man syndrome”..He thinks he is fierce and can handle the biggest one….I am trying to teach him he can’t but sometimes I feel my words are landing on deaf ears….

    Thank you again for sharing and may God Bless you & yours…….Teresa

    1. Thank you Teresa! I’m so happy you have Bandit. Kelly can be fierce too…she barks at everything! Just keep him close when you walk and be alert. You will be fine!

  40. Ann…I walk my “best friend” everyday and I would be broken hearted if anything ever happened to her. Thank you for this post and I’m glad Kelly is better! Happy weekend!

  41. Great tips Ann! I too, have had experiences with attack dogs. Once when I was little while I was sledding and another in my 20’s while I was riding my bike. You can’t trust them, even when people say that they are friendly. I need to check into the dog mace, I’ve never heard of it. We also have retractable leashes. I’ve been burnt by them many times and they have frayed on us. Ann, what is the brand name of the leash and collar that Kelly has? They are very cute! I also think we need to get harnesses because our Jack Russell’s, Sonny and Cher, have slipped out of theirs numerous times. Glad to hear that Kelly has recouped well. It takes time. Take care!

    1. Hi Jen! I am going to get Kelly a harness too after reading all these amazing comments. Kelly’s collar and leash are Martha Stewart and I got them at PetSmart. They have the cutest stuff. Definitely get rid of your retractable leashes…no more burns!

  42. I’m so sorry to hear what happened to your beautiful, sweet dog. My heart truly goes out to you. As a dog owner, my dog Cocoa, is my most beloved best friend. I can’t imagine what I’d do if he were injured. You are so kind to share your heartbreaking story with us, and I truly appreciate it. Thank you! I hope your dear dog has a wonderful recovery.

    1. Thank you Karenann! Kelly really is fine now. I’m so thankful she came through it OK. These dogs of ours are such important members of the family!

  43. Cathy Lattus says:

    Somehow I missed this news about your sweet dog. How awful and it hurt my heart to read this. I have a Maltese and would just panic if something happened to him. I will go back and read your posts. I hope you reported it and the responsible party pays your vet bill. We have a leash law here and dogs can’t run around town, but it happens. You have a precious dog and I live seeing your pictures.

    1. Yes Cathy our vet bills were paid by the dog owner’s insurance company. We reported it and went through the proper channels to get the dog out of our neighborhood. Take good care of your little Maltese!

  44. I do not have a pet, but almost all of your points would apply to human safety against an attacker on the street, except for the leash, of course. As far as keeping the dog in front of or beside you, you would want to do the same with a purse. It would be better not to have a bag thrown over your shoulder, but one in front or secured in some way. When my daughters and I used to get out of the car at the supermarket, I always went through a routine of saying that I was looking around to see who was in the lot with me and behind me and in the cars nearby. Just checking. Hopefully, they do that today.

    1. Good advice Wendie and food for thought. Thank you so much for your comment!

  45. It broke my heart and brought I tears to my eyes to read about Kelly being attacked. I am so happy that you sweet doggie is OK. I also have a schnauzer, named Buddy, in my book they are the best breed of dog. Thanks for the dog walking tips.

  46. Ann, my husband and I have two pit bulls. They are the sweetest dogs you have ever met. They are afraid of our 15 pound cat. My dogs are ALWAYS on a leash and always under control. They have had their shots, are licensed and would jump on you to kiss you only. Our neighbor has a “regular” dog who attacked our dogs approximately 10 times until I finally went to Animal Control. After the first attack I told them I didn’t want to do anything but if forced, I would. The Animal Control people wanted me to swear out an arrest warrant but I told them I had to live here. They came over and apologized AGAIN but the next time I saw them they turned their back on me. I now take a cane outside with me and if this dog comes near mine again I will beat within an inch of his life. I don’t say that with no consequences but I love my dogs and this dog has ruined mine. When they are out they look at other dogs as attackers where they used to be friendly. I thank you for your suggestions and I am so glad your dog is okay.

    1. Hi Patty! A cane is a very good idea! Thank you for sharing about your dogs. Kelly is very timid outside especially when she sees or hears another dog. Hopefully time will take care of that. I sure hope she forgets what happened!

  47. Farmer Susan says:

    So very glad that things have turned out well. You ar so right, paying attention is the most important thing, so much can happen in just a few moments. A dog can just lick up something on the street, and you are at the emergency vet’s.

  48. I too have a retractable leash which I will no longer use thank you for the info.we really have to be alert when we are out walking our pets.thanks for sharing with us.rose

  49. Diane Rich says:

    Just want to mention Dog Mace. Pepper spray is illegal in MA, but Dog Mace is not. I order it online and thankfully, have never had to use it. I attach to my small bag or on a lanyard.

    1. Farmer Susan says:

      Thank you for the tip, I had not heard of Dog Mace.

    2. Thank you for sharing about the Dog Mace here in a comment. My readers appreciate it and so do I!

  50. Thank you so much for this post. I know it was probably very difficult to write but believe me
    it is very much appreciated. Will pass it along to my children and friends but most of all
    I will follow all the advice you have given.

    1. You are welcome Mary. Writing this actually helped me sort of put closure to it all. I need to put it behind me and move on. Thank you for your nice comment!

  51. I’ve been very neglectful in reading blogs this summer…I hadn’t realized this had happened. I’m so thankful your precious little pup and you are alright. Great tips by the way….whether you are walking your pet…or just walking! ;)

    1. Hi Donnamae! Glad you are having a good summer. There is time to read blogs when we can’t get outside. Hope all is well with you!

  52. Thank you so much for sharing these tips, Ann! I am so glad that you and Kelly are recovering well from this attack but I know it is something that will take time to heal. Your tips are lifesaving and I will write them down and remember each one! God bless!

  53. I’m so glad your little girl has recovered from such a vicious attack. This happens so often, and most of the time the attacker’s owner doesn’t think they are responsible. I’m glad your husband knew who to call to get that dog out of the neighborhood, but don’t be surprised if the owner gets another aggressive dog. Isn’t it amazing how fast these little ones heal and bounce back, they are just amazing little creatures. Thank the good Lord the dog didn’t attack you. That was a horrible thing to go through, and I think your little girl has healed faster emotionally than you have. It takes a long time to get over something like that, but you and Kelly had a lot of prayers sent and I’m sure we are all grateful for her recovery. Thank you for your helpful tips for walking our dogs safely.

    1. Hi Patty! My husband was driving by the dog owner’s house recently and saw a dog in their back yard. So you are right. They already have another dog. Hopefully this one won’t be a predator. Thank you for your kind words and prayers!

  54. It took a lot for you to re-live and write this tip sharing blog. Thank you. Kelly is now well due to your quick thinking and you can both move on.

  55. Ann,

    What a horrible thing to happen to your precious dog. The same thing happened to my husband when he was walking our German Shepherd. Three dogs came running out of the woods towards him (our dog was the only one on a leash) with a woman lagging behind. The one dog was trying to fight our dog and my husband didn’t realize until he got home that the pit bull had bit our dog in the chest. Unfortunately the woman grabbed her dogs and took off & my husband didn’t even get her name. Nice vet bill for us but our dog is now fine. Some pet owners need to be more responsible.

  56. What a terrifying experience! I LOVE dogs but I do believe there should never be a second chance for any dog to attack twice. I am so glad Kelly and you are both recovered. Thank you for sharing the dog walking advice.

    1. Well here in Ohio every dog gets a second chance. It takes 2 attacks to get the dog declared “dangerous.” That is dog on dog. If it’s dog on human I think the law is different. Anyway, I agree that a second chance is one too many!

  57. Great tips Ann, I walk my dog alone at night and often forget my phone and wear head phones. I won’t again. I am so glad to hear that your dog is doing so well. What a horrible experience. I can imagine how awful it was for you. Our pets are our family. Please try and remember the responsibility of this attack was the owner of that loose dog completely. My dog has been bitten before and it happened so fast and there really was nothing I could do to stop it. And the owner of the dog was there as well and he was practically on top of his dog when it happened. He had him off of my dog in seconds. Still my dog had a huge gash in his hind leg.
    Thank for sharing, Kerry

    1. Oh Kerry please be careful! Always remember your phone and don’t wear those earbuds!

  58. Mary Carlson says:

    So so happy and relieved to know Kelly has recuperated and you are able to move forward. Thanks for the safety tips and reminders….I know it will help me be more cautious while walking my dog in the neighborhood.
    Embrace and Enjoy the sights and sounds of your walks again!

  59. Oh Anne – Im so glad your baby is doing better. As I write this I am on vacation with my family and of course we brought our beloved dog. Just today on our walk, with a retractable leash, she was lagging behind. It made me nervous but I didn’t know why. Thank you for your safety tips. I’m glad that you are moving past the guilt. She is one lucky pooch to be loved so dearly.

  60. I’m not a dog parent, but as a new grandparent I’m a little wary of him being in the stroller when dogs are loose. I’m going to suggest his parents carry pepper spray or another repellant. A teenage girl in our area was attacked by a loose dog this summer while she was out running. Thankfully she was rescued by a passing driver, but she had to be taken to the hospital by ambulance & received several stitches in her lower leg & thigh. The dog had gotten out of his pen & attacked people twice before, so the owner is facing legal charges. It could’ve been much worse if the victim had been a child or older person who couldn’t fight back. You made some good points for anyone who walks or runs, with or without a pet or child. Thanks for the advice, & I’m glad to hear your little Kelly is recovering well.

  61. First, I am so glad that you and Kelly survived the ordeal. That would have been so very scary for me and I know it was for you. (Thank heavens you had your phone with you.) We don’t have a dog but plenty of the people in our neighborhood do have dogs. I will share your tips with them, Ann. I am so sorry you had to go through this ordeal and that Kelly suffered so much.

    1. Thank you so much for your comment Mary! I love my neighborhood and am trying hard to feel safe again. I’m not quite there yet but hopefully soon!

  62. Oh Ann I’m so sorry that this happened. I’m so glad Kelly wil be ok and that you were’nt seriously hurt yourself. I was bitten several times by a dog as a child and I still have memories of it. I’m so glad that dog is gone- how awful. Your ideas about walking a dog make sense. Isn’t it shocking how fast your life can be changed in a matter of moments! Stay safe, Liz

    1. Thanks Liz and you are right. In 20 seconds my whole summer took a whole different path. I’m happy to hear from you…hope you are well!

  63. Ann this is fantastic advise! We have the retractable leash and I have been thinking we need to change that as well. I watched the dog whisperer and I remember him saying to have your dog beside you never behind and I have always done so. This was so scary and could have wound up tragic. Actually it was tragic enough but in the end Kelly was Ok. Thanks for sharing such a fantastic post!

  64. Jill Jones says:

    Ann – Great post and good tips for all dog owners to consider when out walking the family dog. Please don’t agonize over what you could have done differently that day when Kelly was attacked. I am so sorry that she was hurt so badly.

    I have and continue to do all of the things you recommend and still have had two of my small dogs attacked by larger dogs. It all happens so fast and it’s next to impossible to react quickly enough to pick up the dog and prevent any interaction between the two dogs. Plus, when other dogs are in attack mode, they are often silent as they sneak up on their prey thus catching everyone off guard. The only thing we can do is stay alert. I also carry a can of pepper spray when I am out on walks (with or without my dog) as it will repel any dog better than I would be able to do without it.

    May you have many enjoyable and safe walks with Kelly in the future!

    1. Thank you for your kind words Jill. They helped me find the perspective I’m looking for!

  65. Oh Ann, I’m so sorry this happened to Kelly. It just isn’t possible to blame yourself. Too many ‘ifs’ from all directions but your dos and don’ts are excellent. Because we’ve always had large dogs, Great Danes, super big Great Danes, golden and black labs and I have asthma the dogs have had to be obedience trained. It isn’t an option. But just because your dog walks on your left and keeps in contact with your leg doesn’t have anything to do with another dog’s actions. Mine have all heeled without a leash and people ask why we use one……for their protection! Thanks for the advice about the phone. Give Kelly a gentle pat from us. Dolly (the black lab), Maui (kitty #1) and Jombie (kitty #2).

  66. Judy Acker says:

    Ann, I am so sorry you, Kelly and your family had to go through such a horrible experience. I remember praying for you and I am so glad Kelly is doing good.
    Your blog is so good. It is also good advice for walkers.

  67. GREAT POST. Another bad thing about those retractable leashes…I met a man one afternoon who saw me using a retractable leash. With tears in his eyes he told me how he had been using one with his dog that morning, when the dog took off after a bird. The leash was frayed inside the handle and snapped. The dog ran into oncoming traffic and was killed. I threw away that leash that day.

    So glad Kelly is ok!

  68. Princess Pindy says:

    I am so sorry this happened!! My daughter was walking our two little dogs and was attacked. She was able to get up a bank and get away in time for the owner to get the German Shepard. I called Animal Control and it turns out this dog has a child bitten before. We bought an armband for her phone so that her hands are free and phone is secure. It happened so fast, the dog just charged out of their yard and across the street! All my babies were safe that day but it could have been horrible. I am so glad your baby is healing. That must have been so frightening. (((Hugs)))

  69. I have read many times about the retractable leash but never changed it. I will change it now. I, too, almost lost a couple fingers when I couldn’t pull it in quick enough when I needed to and grabbed the line as I was bringing it in. However, I think it’s also a good idea for everyone to use a harness instead of hooking the leash to the collar. I have those for both my small dogs plus they still wear their collars with id, rabies info., etc. I’ve seen dogs pulled by their necks and it could injure them, especially the smaller breeds. Why not use a harness for all breeds?

    1. Diane Rich says:

      You are so right Donna re: the collars and harnesses. My 2 little ones wear a collar and a harness. At least your dog could be pulled up out of harms way and no risk of breaking a neck. Retractables are very bad. The collars with your phone # embroidered on are best and the tags are on the harness.

    2. Amy Pinney says:

      I agree! Our Dorgi wears a harness with his license attached. His collar has his name and number engraved on the buckle. More comfortable, safer, better!

  70. Great tips, Ann. Bailey always walks in front of me because she pulls. When we went to dog training they said she should walk beside you. Well that never sunk in to Bailey so she leads and I don’t care. I am so glad Kelly is okay. That had to be a frightening experience!

  71. Kathy Needler says:


    I commend you for putting these tips on your blog, however, a couple points you raised did not help me and Riley in our attack, and I don’t want you to feel responsible for Kelly’s attack because of them. Riley was in front of me by about 5 feet. I was not wearing earbuds so I was not sidetracked. This dog was so stealthy I never heard a thing — he wasn’t snarling or barking or anything. I saw him in my peripheral vision running across the street. I reeled Riley in close preparing to pick him up, but the dog snapped him up so quickly before my very eyes I was stunned! No one can prepare for that! I regret that I did not have my phone, and I never leave home without it now. I suggest you add walk with Mace . . . I never am without that either! Anyway, you have some very good points and suggestions, and I’m glad Kelly is doing well!

    1. Thank you Kathy…for your comment and also for your support after Kelly’s attack. It was so helpful to hear your story. Tom and I appreciate your time so much. The best thing is that the dog is gone. Thank heavens for that!

  72. Excellent tips! So thankful Kelly is doing well.

    1. Hi Katie! I am so happy to hear from you…hope all is well with you!

  73. Penny @ The Comforts of Home says:

    This is really great advice Ann. I am so glad to hear that you sweet puppy is all better too.

  74. Kathleen G says:

    Very good advice Ann. We stopped walking our MinPin/mix Zoe in our neighborhood because of loose dogs. Fortunately we have a big yard. But even so, there are predators to watch out for, like raccoons, owls, coyotes to name a few. Just want to hug the both of you! Walk on Ann! Kathleen in Az

  75. I am so sorry this happened to you and Kelly, and I’m glad you’re both ok!

  76. Great tips Ann. I grew up in a family that bread show dogs. I like my dogs next to me like they are in the show ring. Your tip about the retractable leash is my favorite! I admit I cringe everytime I see one. Because the truth is if your dog is on a lead that’s all the way or even half way let out you are NOT under control of your animal.
    Don’t beat yourself up, you’re a great dog mommy!

  77. I hope she knows how much we all love her!