First, double-check the dog’s body language to gauge whether they seem friendly or aggressive. If it is an aggressive dog running loose, it is something the police, or animal control should be taking care of. If they have already looked into it, they have either given the owner’s a warning, or decided it was not an issue.
Are there leash laws where you live? If not, you could start the process of putting one in place (to have fines for owners who let their dogs “run at large” in town).
Something you should be working on if you have a small dog, is getting your dog comfortable with larger breeds. Take him to some dog parks, doggy day cares, or training classes to get him socialized. Whatever you do, don’t panic.
If at all possible, the best thing you can do is to talk to the dog owner. Ask them if they could keep their dog from running up to you as you’re not comfortable with it. Don’t get angry or accuse them, as they’ll get defensive and dismissive.
You could offer to buy them a leash so they have one to walk their dog with, or I would ask them if they walk their dog on a schedule, so that I could avoid crossing paths.
A few more pointers include:
–Introduce yourself: Go to your neighbor’s home without your dog. Let the dog see that you’re in his place. Let him see you with his owner. Go and play with the dog. Simply: make a connection. Go and love that dog, don’t hate him, he is not doing anything wrong deliberately and he can be so fun and loving within a second.
–Introduce the dog to your place and your dog: Now invite your neighbor to your place. Ask them to bring their dog as well — preferably with the leash on. The other dog likely won’t be aggressive because it’s a new place and — based on the smells, knows it belongs to another dog. Now you can let the dog your neighbor make the connection.
Let them play with your dog for even a few minutes, while you’re holding their dog — preferably touching him as well, and the dog also should be aware — probably alerted, and see how his owner plays with your dog.
–Let them be friends: Walking is such an important activity to a dog. At least from their point of view. Sometimes I think they like it even more than eating.
Get one of the leashes in your right hand and the other one on your left hand. Start walking from your place — preferably without your neighbor accompanying you, and also to the opposite side of your neighbor’s place.
After a few minutes change your direction towards your neighbor’s place and end it by letting the dog go home to his place — after finishing the walk and while your dog is still with you. You might want to have some small treats with you as well.
Finally, if the dog is not running up to you in an aggressive manner, the problem is that the dog is untrained. It’s up to you to understand dog’s body language, almost as much as it’s up to the owners to train their dogs and walk them on a leash.