Dogs are pack animals. They are highly social animals that crave the attention and company of others, especially others of their own kind, so it is natural for your dog to get excited around other dogs. But what happens when your dog gets so excited he becomes completely out of control around other dogs? A dog that barks, whines, jumps at, or runs at other dogs may not be welcome with the other dog. This can put your dog in danger of being attacked if the other dog does not want their personal space violated. Another issue that can develop occurs when excitement morphs into aggressive behavior, especially where fear and anxiety are involved, as is often the case with hyperactive, excited dogs. Pulling back on a dog that is trying to reach another dog just creates further tension, which escalates the behavior, as does yelling, which just adds to a negative energy level and excitement. Punishing your dog can create a negative association with other dogs, and lead to unwanted behaviors. How do your stop out of control behavior and teach your dog to be calm around other dogs?
He barks whenever he sees another dog from the window or while on a walk. He is friendly at daycare and loves to play but seems to get aggressive and will pull and bark until the dog is out of sight. I can't even calm him down enough to get him to sit down.
Hello Katelynn, Many dogs that are friendly when they are actually with dogs but act aggressively while out on a walk are what is called "Leash Reactive". These dogs may have initially tried to get to other dogs out of excitement, but when they were restrained or corrected a certain way on the leash they became frustrated. Overtime that frustration grew until they become upset every time they saw another dog while on a leash on confined. A lack of early socialization could have also caused the problem. If your dog lacks confidence around other dogs, he may also have learned to act scary to "Scare" the other dogs away. It may not actually scare the dogs away but if the other dogs happen to leave because they are out walking also, then it appears to have worked to your dog, so he repeats it. If your dog has never injured another dog and is fine with dogs off leash up close, then you will need to deal with his rude behavior toward you and his lack of confidence or frustration. First, what you can do is to take him somewhere where he can see dogs from a very far distance. Keep him far enough away from them that he will not get upset. When he is calm and notices the dog from a distance then, before he has a chance to react poorly, praise him and offer him a treat. Do this anytime he encounters a dog before he has acted poorly. The idea is to make the presence of the other dog enjoyable again, rather than scary or frustrating. Expect this to take time. The problem was not created overnight likely, so the solution will take work. As he improves around dogs at the far distance, then very gradually decrease the distance between the dogs. Only decrease it to the point where he can still remain calm though. Be patient and work up to closer distances gradually. While doing that exercise, also work on teaching him a very structured heel. By structured heel I mean a heel where he is walking right beside you, not in front at all, and is focused on you and nothing else. Add in teaching him to sit when you briefly stop, and lay down when you sit for extra structure. Your dog needs to learn to pay attention to you on walks and to focus on you and not everything else. Have most of his walk be a structured heel, but you can also teach him "Go sniff" or "OK" to indicate to him when it is "OK" for him to take a break on the walk for a minute. Practice structured obedience in general to build his respect towards you. You want him to let you handle the situation, instead of him always trying to handle things that upset him, like dog encounters. For this to happen he needs to trust and respect you. If you have one in your area, you can also join a "Growl Class". This is a class began originally by the co-founder of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, Ian Dunbar. The class is for dog aggressive dogs that have never actually harmed another dog, to learn how to be around other dogs while on leash in a safe environment. This class helps to socialize the dogs and to rid them of their fear or frustration and rude behavior. If you feel like he is dangerous at all, or if you are struggling to train him yourself, please contact a professional trainer in your area. Whenever you are dealing with any form of aggression it is always good to have someone in person assess the situation and tailor the training to your needs, while also showing you how to keep everyone involved safe. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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When my dog sees other dogs, he pulls as hard as he can and tries to get to the other dog. He does this wherever: walks, parks, other's homes. We took him to a group obedience class and the whole time, he was whining as loud as possible, pulling, and barking. The class lasted and hour and that was all he did. The other dogs were completely fine. They barked only twice and never whined. It was so embarrassing. After the class, the trainer told us we might need private classes. I have never been so mortified. I need my dog to be calm around other dogs and not pull. What do I do?
Hello Michelle, When your dog is reactive towards other dogs it can feel very embarrassing. Please know that you are not alone though. I work with a lot of clients in person who have reactive dogs, and everyone feels embarrassed about their dog's behavior, especially when they are around calmer dogs. It's a very common problem. The first thing I would suggest is to take that trainer up on their suggestion of a private session, if that is an option for you. You may want to find a different trainer though, who will not make you feel embarrassed. I suggest Private training, not because you cannot solve it on your own, but simply because it will be significantly easier to work on those types of issues if you have some experienced helping you. If you choose to find someone to help you, I would suggest looking for someone with experience in dealing with aggressive and reactive dogs. Not because I think that your dog is aggressive, but because someone with that type of experience will probably be skilled enough to help you get the best results. Some trainers who only teach classes are less experienced than what you need, since they deal less with behavior problem and more with teaching obedience skills. With that said, there are a couple of things that you can do on your own also. First, work on teaching your dog general obedience, such as a structured Heel, like the focused type that you would see a police dog doing. Teach a long Down Stay, a Sit Stay, Attention, how to stay in Place for a long time, and any other obedience skills that you would like to teach, that require your dog to exert self-control or to focus on you. After your dog learns those commands, have him practice them to learn things form you through the day, such as sitting to earn his dinner, laying down before being petted, heeling to get to progress in his walk, paying attention before you take him outside. Teaching these commands will not only help you communicate with your dog when he is reacting to another dog, but even more importantly, it will build respect. He needs to build respect toward you. He is likely reacting to other dogs for some other reason, but the more he respects you, the more he will allow you to handle the interactions with the other dogs, and will follow your leadership and instruction. He is probably reacting for a couple of reasons. The first is excitement, the second is a lack of socialization. This is assuming that he has never shown any real aggression towards other dogs. I am guessing that he has not based on your description. Other dogs are probably exciting to him, but he may not have ever learned proper canine manners. When puppies interact with other dogs while growing up, in an ideal setting the other dogs will give the puppy feedback and teach him how he should act, and what is not acceptable. The puppy learns to control himself, and to be polite. In the wrong circumstances a puppy can learn the wrong things, such as how to bully, or if not around enough other social dogs and puppies while growing up, he may not learn how to behave around dogs at all. Most people with reactive dogs have this problem. If your puppy has never been around many other well socialized dogs, and not all dogs will properly teach this, then other dogs are also extremely exciting. If he is reactive because he never learned proper manners around other dogs while young, then it will be important to bring him around other dogs and make the presence of other dogs boring. To do this, go somewhere with other dogs, but stay far enough away from the dogs for your dog to remain relatively calm still. Work on having your dog do things for you while in the presence of those other dogs. Things such as a structured heel, a long Down Stay, Come, Sit, Attention, or a game of Fetch that is structured, meaning that your dog must Sit, bring the ball to you, drop the ball for you, and focus on you. When your dog looks at the other dogs and then looks back at you, praise him and offer him a treat. It is OK to discipline your dog in a fair way to interrupt poor behavior, but the goal should be to reward your dog for being calm, and to teach him an acceptable way to behave after you interrupt his bad behavior. Discipline does not have to be physically painful, the best discipline is simply something that your dog considers unpleasant, that interrupts his behavior long enough for him to be open to being shown what to do instead. Some dogs consider the word "No" alone to be discipline, others consider turning and walking away from something they want to go see discipline. Think of it like telling your dog "Don't do that" then "Do this instead". Lastly, if you have friends with calm dogs who will help you. Then work on teaching your dog how to approach other dogs calmly. To do this, have your friend go somewhere, such as the middle of a park, and stand still with their dog. Let your dog see them from a distance. If your dog remains calm, walk past them at that distance. Reward your dog for looking at you and for remaining calm. If your dog barks, stand in front of him and block his view until he stops, or turn around and walk in the opposite direction. When he is calm again reward him by moving closer again. Practice this until you can walk right past them. Expect this to take time and work. The idea is to get gradually closer, to reward your dog every time that he is calm or paying attention to you, and to stop or walk away whenever he reacts badly. This is to teach him that the way to get to where he wants, where the other dog is, is to act respectful and calm. When he can walk all the way up to the other dog calmly, then have the two dogs walk side by side for a while. After that you can let them stop and sniff for three seconds, before continuing your walk. The reason the interaction while standing is short is to prevent the chance of a dog fight if your dog acts rudely, and to keep your dog calm, so that your dog will learn that other dogs are boring. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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My dog has been snapped at twice at our new residence He always got along with dogs but we’ve had two encounters recently. The last encounter the other fog was very aggressive unleashed and biting my dog. I was able to step in and pick him up. Now we are both apprehensive around all fogs, what can I do?
Hi William, If you have any friends with calm, very well behaved dogs, that are trustworthy around other dogs, then I would arrange calm, non confrontational meetings using one of the methods in this article: https://wagwalking.com/training/greet-other-dogs After the two dogs have met and gone on a walk together, if you want, you can go back to one of your homes afterwards and let the two dogs interact there in a calm way, either playing with supervision, and intervention if they get too riled up, or simply laying in the same room together and ignoring each other. Being in the same room and ignoring each other is actually wonderful because that means that they are comfortable enough with one another to just hang out, and we want Bowie to feel relaxed around other dogs again. Do this with as many different trustworthy dogs as possible. Also avoid up close interactions with dogs that are being rude and reactive towards your dog. Always advocate for your dog. You do not have to let him meet another dog if that dog is on a leash with it's owner if you do not trust the other dogs. Do not be afraid to politely tell the other owner that you are "Training Bowie to be calm around other dogs, so cannot meet", or that "Your dog is frightened of other dogs, so cannot meet". Unfortunately off-leash dogs are out of your control, if off-leash dogs continue to be a problem then I would recommend talking to the other if you know where it lives, or reporting it to animal control if needed, or carrying pepper spray or another type of save deterrent if the other dogs are aggressive. While avoiding untrustworthy dogs, seek out friendly ones that you know and go on walks together, side by side, using one of the methods in the article link that I have included above. Reward your dog with lots of treats for calm, brave behavior as you get closer and closer to the other dog. Lots of positive experiences with other dogs should build both you and your dog's confidence, and help you both feel more relaxed around other dogs. You want your Bowie to feel like aggressive dogs are the exception and not the norm. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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My dog is a sweet rescue who absolutely loves other dogs, however I don't believe she was well socialized for the first year and a half of her life so when she meets new dogs she 'forgets' the hello stage and jumps right into playing. Its pretty overwhelming for a lot of dogs and has made a couple snap at her. I have tried snapping her out of her excitment but I also know that holding her back would just make her more excited. How can I calm her down enough to remember to say hello to new dogs.
Hello Victoria, To help Luna, practice going to a lot of places where she will be around other dogs but will not have much up close interaction. While in the presence of other dogs reward her for calm behavior. Practice commands like "Watch Me", "Heel", "Sit" "Stay", "Down" "Stay", and "Come". If you practice "Come" then you will need a long training leash, and possibly a back clip harness. Initially work on having her just interact with you, with the other dogs in the background, so that the other dogs will become less exciting and more normal to her, but not scary at all. Praise and reward her for focusing on you and obeying your commands so that this exercise is a positive one. Once she can focus on you better during these sessions, then allow her to meet trustworthy dogs, who you know will be patient with her. When she does meet them keep these interactions brief, about three seconds for the dogs to sniff one another, and make her approach the other dog calmly before being allowed to greet him. Every time that she pulls or acts overly excited or rude while approaching, have her sit or turn around and walk a couple of feet in the opposite direction with her. Another option is to have the other person and her dog stop or turn around when Luna acts rude. The idea is to show her that the only way that she gets to greet other dogs is by being calm. That polite behavior is rewarded with forward movement toward another dog. It is easiest to work on this with a friend or neighbor, who has a friendly, well behaved dog, and is willing to help you. Recruit as many people as you are able, who have well behaved, friendly dogs, to help you with this, one at a time. Do not let her meet reactive, aggressive, or rude dogs. Another great thing to do is to go on walks with other dogs, so that both dogs are focused on heeling and on their owners, and not on playing with each other. Check out this article on how to train polite greetings and get to the point where you can walk with another dog: https://wagwalking.com/training/greet-other-dogs Your overall goal with Luna should be to get her around lots of other dogs, but in a more calm, boring way, so that her focus is on you and not the other dogs. Think about how a Service Dog interacts with other dogs. He is very well socialized and friendly, but he has learned to expect other dogs to be boring and calm. While he is out in public he is not expecting to play with every dog he meets, even though he does play with certain dogs when off duty at home. Most of the time he simply hangs out with other dogs, sitting or laying down near them, without getting overly excited. That would be a great goal for Luna with most dogs, it would help to teach her manners while maintaining her socialization, and preventing dog fights that could lead to fearful behavior. If you have a friend with a well socialized dog, that has good control, will take turns being dominant during play, and knows when it is time to take a break from playing, then set up play dates at one of your houses for Luna and that dog to play together. Look for those types of dogs for her to interact with. Things that you want to watch for, to make sure that it is a beneficial encounter, are: the two dogs taking turns chasing each other or being on top of one another while wrestling, and both dogs allowing each other to take breaks when one of them is tired. A dog that plays this way with Luna is healthy for her to be around, and can help her learn better social behaviors. That type of dog is less likely to teach her bad manners such as bullying, rudeness, or fearfulness. Right before you let her go over to the friend dog, have her sit for you and then give her a release word such as "Say Hi" or "Free", so that she knows that she is only allowed to greet other dogs when she has been given permission. If you can practice calling her away from the other dog, rewarding her, then letting her go back to playing, then that is even better. Monitor the playing, and if one dog is overwhelming or being rude toward the other dog, call the dogs apart and have them both calm down for a few minutes before allowing them to play again. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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