How to Stop Your Dog from Barking or Lunging at Other Dogs
28 July, 2015
Some of our dogs will bark at other dogs for fun or just as friendly ‘hello’ and have no problem playing with nicely other dogs. And then some other dogs need to learn how to get along with other dogs and not bark or lunge at them. If your dog does bark or lunge at other dogs, it is usually rooted from fear or lack of socialization. However, with time and practice, you can help curb this behavior.
First, work at home or just outside your home to change how your dog reacts to other dogs
As mentioned above, your dog will typically bark or lunge at other dogs because he or she is scared. In order to change your dog’s response to other dogs, start working with your dog, standing still, at the distance where he can see another dog without reacting. Give your dog extra-special treats the moment he sees the other dog and stop the treats when either the other dog leaves or you and your dog walk away. This exercise will help change your dog’s association with other dogs from one of fear to one of rewards.
Practice with me at home first!
If your dog starts to bark and lunge, you are too close and need to move back. When your dog is reacting, he isn’t thinking. When your dog becomes comfortable at a given distance, you can try getting five feet closer. If you move too close too fast, you may see backsliding. Since you will be using a lot of treats during this process, break the treats into tiny pea-size pieces. Feed your dog one tiny piece after another, and remember to reduce what you give him for meals. We don’t want overweight dogs!
Repeat above and when you feel comfortable, take your dog out on a real walk.
Practice taking your dog on walks
Use each walk as not only exercise for your dog, but as a training session. Try to use some to the below, not just when you see other dogs, but all the time to reinforce the behavior. The more unpredictable you are, the more your dog will focus on you, instead of looking ahead for what’s out there. And, always bring treats along to help reinforce the behavior you have been practicing.
Avoidance is the easiest way to avoid barks and lunges
The easiest thing to do is, of course, is to avoid other dogs and try to take your dog at different times. While this isn’t addressing the issue, it can be used if your dog isn’t responding the way you would like on a particular day and you want to get a quick walk done. But, still practice, saying his name and giving your dog treats.
You need to train your dog that good things can happen on walks
You need a new certain phrase or signal when walking your dog that something good is about to happen. We owners can get anxious when we walk our dogs and alert them that something bad is going to happen when we see another dog on our walks. We panic, raise our voice, tighten or yank back on the leash. Try to change that into a positive by practicing a good phrase as you retrain yourself as well as your dog. At home, practice your phrase. Every time you say it, give your dog treats and attention (even a toy). Your dog will looks at you when you say this phrase and away from any diversion that might occur.
Be ready to turn and walk in a different direction
There are times when you need just need to get out of the way. When you are walking and suddenly encounter something that is way too stimulating for your dog (a very big dog our maybe a group of joggers), you need to turn the opposite direction quickly. Walk your hands up your leash (without pulling) toward your dog. When you get to your dog’s shoulder, turn into your dog with your legs and hip to help turn him around. If your dog is on your right, you turn into him on your right. If your dog is on your left, you turn into him on your left. Talk the entire time you are turning him around and treats are handy at this point.
Try to avoid walking directly toward another dog when out on walks
A dog that walks directly toward another dog is considered rude, or even a threat, in the dog world. However, we put our dogs in this position all the time by walking on sidewalks. Our dog then feels the need to defend himself and humans label our dog as aggressive. Try to practice walking on an arc away from the other dog as though you are walking along a curve. There is also no rule that says you have to walk on sidewalks, streets, or paths and if you can walk in an on open area, that works great too.
Shake it up on your walks to keep your dog entertained
When you’re out on walks, try to shake it up a bit by changing your pace and direction. Go slowly, speed up, cross the street and then start again. If your dog doesn’t know what you about to do next, his or he focus will be on you and not what is coming down the road. And try a different route which will feel new to your dog, but keep up with the training.
As always, practice makes perfect (or almost) as does repetition of the lessons learned. If you have treats handy, shake up the walks and know what to do when there is a real oncoming threat, you and your dog will learn how to teach your dog to avoid barking or lunging at other dogs.
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