How to Stop Your Dog from Lunging at Other Dogs
1 February, 2017
When walking your dog, it is likely that your dog will become excited when seeing another dog. And sometimes your dog might bark at the other dog or just try to approach the dog. However, if your dog lunges at other dogs, this can be problematic. Most dogs will lunge at other dogs because they are scared or confused as to how to behave. It’s important to try to correct this behavior as soon as you see it happening.
Try to figure out what your dog’s lunge threshold is with other dogs
In order to change your dog’s response to other dogs, you need to first figure out your dog’s threshold is. Do the dogs need to be just a few feet away or is merely seeing a dog on the other side of the street enough to set him off?
When your dog sees another dog, give your dog some healthy treats and then stop the treats when the other dog is far away. This will help change your dog’s association with other dogs from one of fear to one of rewards. Continue this approach and see how long or far you can get to another dog. If you move too close too fast, you may see backsliding. (You can even practice at home with a friend and another dog).
Use each walk as a training session to reinforce the correct behavior
Use each walk as not only exercise for your dog, but as a training session. Keep up with treats or praise and keep your dog reacting to you and not to the other dogs. Shake it up a bit. The more unpredictable you are, the more your dog will focus on you, instead of looking ahead for what’s out there. And, always praise the good behavior but do NOT punish your dog if he does lunge at another dog or react. That will just set your dog back.
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. Our dog then feels the need to defend himself and will naturally lunge at another dog (and is then called aggressive). Try to walk 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.
Show your dog that good things can happen on walks
Come up with a new phrase or signal when walking your dog that something good is about to happen. We get anxious when we walk our dogs and alert them that something bad is going to happen (which can make them want to lunge). Change that energy by evoking a good phrase as you retrain yourself as well as your dog. At home, practice your phrase with sitting or any other command. Every time you say the phrase, give your dog praise or a toy. Your dog will look at you when you say this phrase and away from any diversion that might occur.
Switch up your route to keep your dog entertained and distracted
When you’re out on walks, try to shake it up a bit by switching up your route, pace and direction. Go slowly, speed up, cross the street and then start again. If your dog doesn’t know what you’re 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. Always be positive, always reward.
With daily practice and positive affirmations and distractions, you can get your dog to stop lunging at other dogs.