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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My husband and I fell in love and adopted a pair of sisters last weekend. They are both extremely sweet, but we realize that them being a little older and us not knowing much of their history we have been a little cautious with triggering them. So far, they are loyal to us, listen very well and have mastered "sit" and seem highly intelligent. We introduced them to our families and they were both sweet and friendly. We tried to introduce them both to our neighbor's dogs and they totally flipped. Both sweet girls became hostile and luckily my husband had them both by the collar and was able to bring them back inside. Our assumption is that being shelter dogs they have not quite fully transitioned properly. I read the rest of your questions and found it very helpful! I guess I am really just writing this to see if you recommend the same training? They were in the shelter for 3 days if that helps at all. They both really are SWEET girls and we want them to not see every dog as a threat.
Hello Anabel, Congratulations on the new dogs. The type of training they need for the dog reactivity will depend on a couple of thing. It will depend on whether they are reacting out of fear and a lack of socialization, or have dominance related hostility, territorial aggression, or genetic rooted aggression. The details for treating it also depends on whether or not your girls are actually dangerous or just reactive. True aggression results in blood, puncture wounds, and happens consistently in fights. Reactivity looks scary but if the dogs were to actually fight there would be no real damage done, just lots of noise and controlled bites, or lots of threats but when the dogs actually meet the hostility goes away and does not result in a fight. You obviously do not want to find out though, so you will have to just use your best judgement on this unless there has been an actual fight that you are aware of. Fear related aggression or reactivity you can treat by making the appearance of another dog rewarding for your dog. Whenever your dog is calm, pays attention to you, or generally acts well behaved and non aggressive in the presence of another dog, you reward your dog. Start from a distance that your dog can handle, and as your dog improves you can decrease the distance overtime. Once your dog and the other dog get closer, if your dog is likely to cause real harm to the other dog, then your dog needs to wear a basket muzzle for this exercise. Spend time getting your dog used to wearing the muzzle ahead of time. Offering treats every time the muzzle is near, touches her, is put on, is taken off, and while she is wearing it, until she is comfortable with it. To reward her while wearing the muzzle you can poke a straw dipped in something tasty and dog safe, like peanut butter, through the muzzle hole while she is being good. A muzzle is also a good tool for safely assessing your dogs' level of aggression towards other dogs. If your dog is not dangerously aggressive, then look for what's called a "GROWL Class" in your area. This is a training class for dogs with dog issues, where the dogs all wear muzzles and are socialized together in a safe setting, to speed up the learning process. They tend to work great when led by an experienced trainer. On a side note, if you do use peanut butter, avoid the ingredient Xylitol. It is a sweetener that is EXTREMELY toxic to dogs and found in some human food products. If the issue is primarily fear related and there is no true danger from punctures and blood being drawn, then most standard training practices, like the ones described on Wag! for treating dog to dog issues should work well. If your dog has aggression issues not related to fear or a lack of socialization, but to other causes like genetic related aggression, dominance related aggression, territorial aggression, and especially if you believe that your dogs are truly dangerous, then I would recommend finding a trainer in your area with experience in dealing with reactive, fearful, and especially aggressive dogs. That issue is more complicated and requires a lot of management and training. Some of the same exercises for treating fear related aggression can be implemented but they are probably not going to be enough on their own. For this type of issue look for someone who is not only experienced but who also implements different methods and tailors the training to the dog. For example, look for someone who uses Positive Reinforcement primarily, but who also uses other training methods along with that, such as drive training, respect based training, balanced training, and generally has experience dealing with high drive dogs, like Belgian Malinois. You do want someone who values the role of dominance in training but not someone who achieves that by pinning your dog and biting its ear. You are a person and the best way to achieve respect from your dog is through your intellect and consistency, so look for someone who emphasizes building respect through your interactions, body language, consistency, and the use of training, rather than brute force. Your average Pet Store trained trainer will not have enough experience for this type of issue, although there are certainly exceptions. You need someone who deals with behavioral problems and understands the sensitive, intense, intelligent temperaments of Belgians. Belgians are not the same as some other, more common, breeds. They tend to be much more intense and sensitive, and need someone to train them as the intelligent, sensitive, intense dogs that they are. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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My dog definitely seems to have a case of over-excitement. He'll lung, bark, whine whenever we get close to the dog park/dog beach. We've been practicing patience by making him sit before we enter area, or making him sit if he starts to lung/pull as we approach.(we're going to start practicing at a distance as well. One thing he does display however, is an obsession with a particular dog. It's happened 3 times now, we go on golden retriever group hikes or beach meet ups and he always "imprints" or becomes obsessed with one dog in the group (different dog each time). He is friendly, seems like he only wants to play, even though the other dog shows no interest he still gets in their way and really won't leave the dog alone, he wont bite or growl or mount, but sniff and follow. If we leash him, we will pull, lunge, bark etc and won't listen to any commands. He's pretty good on walks about leaving other dogs alone, I can tell he gets interested but manage to re-direct him to keep walking.
Please help, it can be embarrassing and painful at times. The bigger he gets, the easier he will rip my arm of one day :OOO
Hello Vivian, How old is Norman? I see that you put nine years but was curious if that was supposed to be nine months due to your reference to him getting larger. If he is young then the problem should get a bit better with age, so long as you also work on training also. The obsession with other dogs might also be due to his hormones if he is not neutered, so neutering might help that, but I have seen neutered dogs display the same behavior, so although neutering should help to decrease it, he will still need you to train him. Many dogs will become obsessed with another dog due to frustration if the other dog is ignoring him. Hormones or genetic obsessive compulsive tendencies can also be to blame. If the cause is genetic OCD tendencies and you feel like it is really bad then you can talk to your vet about whether or not there is a possible hormonal imbalance that needs to be addressed, but Norman probably just needs further obedience training. When you are training a hunting dog or herding dog for it's work, the ducks and sheep are extremely distracting. You have to train the dog to focus on you in the presence of high distractions in order to succeed. For Norman other dogs are that type of distraction. He will need to practice heeling in the presence of other dogs, starting from a distance like you mentioned. He will need to practice "Down-Stays", "Sit-Stays", and "Focus" on you. The best way to do this is to regularly take him to place with other dogs. Where he can see the dogs from a distance and work on his obedience in the presence of other dogs, gradually getting closer to them as he improves. Dog park parking lots are one of my favorite places to practice this once a dog has mastered the distractions of yards, neighborhoods, and parks. Start from a distance though and do not take him into the dog park fence afterwards. Your goal with him should be for other dogs to become boring. You want to continue to bring him around other dogs, like the hikes that you have been going on, but he needs more structure when he is around other dogs, opposed to being given freedom to run with several other dogs, until he can respond to you when loose around other dogs. When he can approach another dog calmly then allow him to meet the other dog if she is friendly and to sniff for no more than three seconds, then call his name, give him a treat, and move on. This will encourage socialization, calm behavior, focus on you, and help to prevent over-excitement. The three seconds is important. The interaction should not be long. Picture a Service Dog being around other dogs. A Service Dog gets along wonderfully with other dogs because she has been so well socialized from a young age, but when she is out with her owner, she does not expect to interact with other dogs. She is focused on her owner and bored with other dogs. If you were to take that same dog home and release her into your backyard with another dog she would probably have a great time playing, but she has learned when it is time to play and when it is time to focus. Work on Norman focusing on you around other dogs and having calm interactions with other dogs, instead of him expecting to play every time that he is around other dogs. Enrolling in a structured obedience class might also help him. Because that will give him opportunities to practice obedience and focus on you during the class. Make sure that the instructor knows about his excitement beforehand though, because not all classes will be a good fit for him. The right class could be wonderful though! Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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My dog is a very sweet dog who loves to be around people and other dogs. However, recently I brought over my friend's purebred German Shepherd who is very huge and Brownie started barking uncontrollably as if he was scared. He has never acted that way to any other dog or person before. I think it may be because he has never seen such a huge dog before.
On the second meet they sniffed each other but Brownie started barking out of nowhere. I don't know if it is because he is scared of just unsure of what to do. I think such a large dog is too overwhelming for him. I want him to be more comfortable around the larger dog though so they can go on walks together. Please help.
Hello Alexandra, The issue might be other large dogs or it might just be your friend's dog. Some dogs just do not like each other, often because of temperament differences, body language, smell, or something else. I would recommend first finding out whether or not your dog dislikes all large dogs. To do that you can take Brownie somewhere with other large dogs, where you can stay at a distance if you choose. Great options are: large pet stores with spacious isles and not too many other dogs, dog park parking lots (not inside the fence with the other loose dogs though), and parks in general. If Brownie has issues with other large dogs in general then work on his confidence around other dogs by taking him places where he can see other large dogs, and whenever he sees another dog and remains calm or looks at you instead, and when he sees one but is still deciding how to react, then praise him in an upbeat, confident tone of voice, and give him a treat. If he is doing well enough to meet other dogs, then have him meet other large dogs who are friendly, calm, and well behaved, one dog at a time. When they meet keep the interactions very brief, only three seconds maximum, then call Brownie to get his attention and give him a treat, and walk away. Doing this will help him grow accustomed to other dogs without feeling as threatened and without having as much of a chance to react poorly. The treat and getting his attention afterwards will also help him to stay focused on you better during dog interactions, which can build his confidence. If Brownie is reacting to all large dogs, then getting him more comfortable with large dogs should help the interactions with your friends dog, but whether all large dogs are the issues or not you can also work on getting Brownie and your friend's dog accustomed to one another by taking them on "Pack Walks". They will need to work up to walking together. To get them to that point, check out this Wag! article and choose either "The Passing Approach Method" or "The Walking Together Method": https://wagwalking.com/training/greet-other-dogs Once the dogs are close to one another and doing well then walk the dogs together regularly. You and your friend can give both dogs treats for paying attention to you instead of the other dog, and for walking nicely and not pulling. When the dogs can walk together and are completely calm together, you can then work on having the two dogs lay down in the same room with you, then eventually work on the two dogs just being loose together while supervised. The dogs may or may not get to the point where they will want to play together. If they do not want to play together that is fine, as long as they can be together without feeling stressed. The goal during the walks and interactions while working on this is for the dogs to become so familiar and comfortable with each other that they are bored with one another. Picture Service dogs walking together rather than puppies wrestling. The calm Service Dogs just being with each other is what you want in order to see improvement. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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How do I get my dog to stop getting overly excited, wining and pulling towards when she sees another dog. This only started 6 months after my other dog passed away. I try to redirect her by giving her treats or a stick or something to get her focus off the other dogs but she won't listen to me at that moment. I don't know what else I could do. I don't have any friends with dogs. She's only getting stronger and it's harder for me to hold the leash when this happens. I used to take her to dog parks but after my other dog passed away. She won't behave there by not listening to me when I call her. She used to be good with it when my other dog was around but now it's like she misses other dogs so much that she refuses to listen to me. Besides when other dogs are around. She listens to me perfectly on and off leash. It's just when she sees another dog. I had strangers yell at me that my dog is aggressive. When that's not the case. She's friendly. She doesn't bark when this happens. Just sounds like she's dying by wining so much. Please help me fix this behavior.
Hello Christie, It sounds like Sandy needs to change the way she interacts with and views other dogs. Right now other dogs are a source of excitement and frustration, but she needs to learn to view other dogs as something boring and normal. Picture the way a Service Dog behaves around other dogs. He gets along well with other dogs but he never expects to play with them or interact with them while he is working, so he is not excited or anxious about their presence. To help Sandy get to this point, go places where you can see other dogs from a distance, but control how far away you stay from them. Great places to do this at are open area parks and dog park parking lots and grassy areas (but not inside the fenced in areas with the other dogs). Work on Sandy's obedience exercises with her with other dogs in the background. Practice "Heel", "Sit", "Down", "Stay", "Come" on a long leash, and anything else she knows. At first you will probably need to be very far away from the other dogs. Possibly over a hundred feet away. Pick a distance where she notices the other dogs but can still respond to your commands and is still interested in food. It might seem like nothing is happening when you work with her on her obedience from that far away from the other dogs, but the idea is for the other dogs to become something so familiar and boring that she begins to ignore them in general. When she becomes more and more focused on you and less on the other dogs, then decrease the distance between her and other dogs very gradually overtime. Whenever she glances at another dog and remains calm then praise her and give her a treat. Whenever she glances at another dog and then looks back at you, praise her and give her a treat. Have her perform a lot of heeling there, heeling where she has to walk right by you and watch you and follow you very, very closely. You want to be changing directions and speeds so frequently that she cannot focus on other dogs and you at the same time. When she starts to improve, work on a lot of "Down Stays" also. That position requires more commitment to be in one place than a sit does. It also encourages relaxation better. Reward her when she is laying down and does things to relax into the position even more, such as laying her head down, swinging her hips out, looking away from the other dog, and loosening her muscles. As she improves and you can get closer to the other dogs, practice heeling past them and laying down near them. Expect it to take time and a lot of practice before you can heel past other dogs with her though. Do not be discouraged if it does not happen very soon. I would discourage you from going back inside the fenced area of the dog park though. Those types of interactions with other dogs will likely make the problem worse or make it come back again, even after she improves because of your hard work. Instead go on structured walks with other dogs, or do three second greetings, where she is allowed to sniff another dog politely for three seconds, and then told "Let's Go", and rewarded with a treat for following you away from the dog. When she improves enough to be calm around other dogs, going on pack walks, doing three second greetings, and being in areas with other dogs around are very important for her ongoing socialization, so do continue to do those things. Right now she needs to be around tons of other dogs but only at a distance that she can handle while you are working on her focus on you and self-control and calmness. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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How can we teach our new puppy to leave our adult dogs alone? We have a new puppy with a very spunky and dominant personality. She can be very sweet and calm, but is more frequently very energetic, squirmy and a little crazy at times. Our two older dogs (8 & 10 yrs old) are very calm and more submissive in personality. The puppy is almost constantly trying to play with them and they have very little interest in playing with her. She will almost constantly and sometimes obsessively follow them around, nipping at their faces, jumping on them, bouncing and barking at them (in a playful way, but sometimes relentlessly). They generally try to ignore her (turning their heads away, walking away, but she usually follows) and sometimes they growl at her, but she ignores the growls and often ignores us when we try to intervene or distract her. Too regularly, she bites one dog's face and ears so hard that the older dog yelps, but the puppy seems to see this as play instead of pain. We're concerned about how to stop this behavior and don't know what to do. What are we doing wrong and how can we help her learn to leave the older dogs alone? The puppy is really trying to be the boss of them in other ways, too. If the older dogs are drinking water, she will run up and push them out of the dish; if they're playing with a specific toy, she will immediately want only that toy and take it from them. Since the older dogs are so laid back and submissive, they don't fight back or reprimand her. Your time and guidance are appreciated! Thank you!
Hello Sharon, Some of the behaviors that your puppy is exhibiting are normal and she simply needs consistency and time to grow out of them, such as her excitability, energy, and playfulness. Since your older dogs are not addressing her rude behavior and pushiness though you will need to make the rules very clear for her and work on building her respect toward you, so that you can enforce the rules and not be dependent on your older dogs to. I would recommend starting what's called the "No Free Lunch" protocol with her. Essentially she needs to be working for every single thing in her life until her attitude becomes more respectful. Teach her a couple of commands, such as "Sit" and "Down" and "Out", and whenever she wants something make her do a command before giving it to her. For example, tell her to "Sit" before you feed her at her meals. Tell her "Down" before you pet her, and do not pet her if she is shoving another dog out of the way or demanding your attention by barking, nudging you, or generally being pushy. Make her leave instead. Tell her "Sit" before you take her outside. Tell her "Down" before you toss her a toy. Generally make her work for what she gets. This should help to build her respect for you in a less confrontational way. After you have started that, then also teach her the "Out" command, which means get out of the area that you are in. To do this, first call her to you and toss a treat away from yourself while also pointing the finger of your throwing hand. Tell her "Out" while you toss the treat and point. After she eats the treat tell her "OK" and encourage her back toward you again. Practice this until she begins to run away from you whenever you say "Out" and point, before you have tossed the treat. When she will do that then tell her "Out" and point away from yourself. If she does not move any of the times then walk toward her and herd her out of the area with your body. Be calm, firm, and boring while you do this. Praise her and give her a treat when she gets to the area that you were telling her to go to while she is still learning this. Later you will not reward her unless she went willingly. After you have herded her out of the area then walk backwards, returning to where you were before, and if she follows you back without being told "OK", then walk toward her again and block her way until she stops trying to get past you. Repeat this until she will stay back when you back up until you tell her "OK". If you tell her "Out" and she leaves the area on her own, without you tossing a treat or having to herd her out of the area, then praise her and toss a treat over to her when she gets far enough away. When she moves out of an area when told "Out" she does not have to sit, lay down, or stay right there. She simply cannot come back into the area that you told her to get out of until she is invited back. You can use this command to teach her to get away from your other dogs, and if she does not listen then use your body to herd her away from them firmly until she gives up and goes away. You can also use this command to get her out of your own space if she is being pushy and rude. When she gets really riled up and is struggling to listen, even though you are being firm with her and consistent, then give her a time out to let her calm down. To give her a time out you might need to install a baby gate to block off one room that has been puppy proofed, or utilize a crate, or utilize an exercise pen. Place her in one of those areas with a chew toy until she calms back down. Puppies often need time outs when they get over stimulated and excited. The time out does not have to be scary or bad, but simply a safe place that she can go to encourage her to calm back down. After you have built her respect for you and taught her "Out" then you will need to be the one to create and enforce all of the rules between the dogs. Do not expect the older dogs or her to decide or enforce the rules. Decide what your house rules are for the dogs. Your rules might include: "No biting another dog no matter what they do", "No stealing what another dog has", "No being possessive over anything, including people", "No bothering another dog when he is eating", and "No shoving another dog out of the way when he is receiving affection". Enforce the same rules for all of the dogs, and when one rule is broken then you be the one to intervene and set things straight so that a dog does not have to. This will help to prevent fights and bullying as she grows, and eventually she should begin to respect the rules more to as an extension of her respect for you. She will probably never respect your other dogs but her respect for you can help the way that she interacts with them. You will need to be firm and very consistent with her. Expect this to take time and be on going until she matures more mentally and emotionally as well. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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Just last week I adopted a 6 month old Basset Hound who had previously socialized with only one other dog. When we tried to take him to a training class, he barked incessantly (for an hour) while he was surrounded by other dogs. He didn't pull on the leash or approach them aggressively, he just stood or sat and barked (and barked and barked and barked), and would give other dogs space when we passed by them. The same has happened when we take him to a location where other dogs are present (like a park or a pet store). If strangers are around and they approach him, he is immediately friendly and quiet after initially barking. Since he isn't lunging, snapping, or getting in aggressive in any other way but being Loud, how can we get him used to--and comfortable with--larger groups of dogs?
Hello Lauren, To help Melvin get used to other dogs contact several friends who have well socialized dogs that you trust. Set up play dates with these dogs in fenced in areas. Let him spend time with other dogs, one at a time, but do this with multiple different dogs as often as possible. Letting him meet one friendly dog at a time will help him to get used to other dogs without overwhelming him as much. If you do this with lots of different dogs over time then he will still learn to like multiple dogs. I would also recommend doing three second greetings with him. To do three second greetings, when he is not pulling on the leash, tell him "Say Hi" and allow him to greet and sniff another, well-behaved, friendly dog for three seconds. During the three seconds keep the leash loose and let the dogs sniff each other, but as soon as the three seconds are up tell him "Let's Go" and walk away while giving him a treat. Keep the greetings short to decrease the chance of dog fights and to keep the interactions boring, which will help with his timidity and excitement. Because he is still getting used to other dogs avoiding dog fights is extremely important, so follow the three second rule unless the dog is a dog that you know is completely safe, that you have set up a play date with. Do not simply avoid other dogs completely though. You are right to want to socialize him, and at this age the more socialization you can do the better off he will be for the rest of his life. Being around other dogs will help. Also bring him to places with lots of other dogs, where he can see other dogs from a distance, such as dog park parking lots (but not inside the fenced area yet). Praise him and give him treats for performing commands for you in the presence of other dogs nearby, and for acting calmly and being quiet. This will also help with the barking. Last, take Melvin on pack walks with other friendly dogs. Follow the instructions in "The Passing Approach Method" or "The Walking Together Method" from this article bellow: https://wagwalking.com/training/greet-other-dogs Once the dogs have gotten a couple of feet from one another, walk the dogs together, parallel to one another. At the end of the walk, if the dog is a trustworthy dog and they are getting along well, you can allow them to play off leash in a fenced in area, under close supervision. Interrupt their play if one dog seems tired or scared, and wait until that dog is ready to play again before letting them go. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin is giving good advice here. I just wonder if this isn't partly breed characteristics as well. Hounds communicate with their pack by barking - I've encountered a number of Beagles that bark and howl when they see another dog (or a person, or a bus, or a bin lorry or....). Again, no aggression,not even really mad 'over threshold' excitement, just 'BARK, BARK....' (Look what I've found).
The solution was lots of very ordinary exposure to other dogs (make them just part of life), reward calmness, acknowledge the first bark (OK, Thank you), use lots of distraction techniques after that, and not get worked up yourself.
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Every time I take Duke for a walk now he tries to pull me towards other dogs when they bark or leave their yard to come towards us. Duke weighs 90 pounds to 107 pounds right now so I have a hard time walking him but I did train him to walk by my side and on a loose leash but one of my other dogs taught him to be a little mean towards other dogs.
Hello Stacey, Because Duke is so strong I would recommend that he wear a no pull training device until he learns not to pull around other dogs. Something designed to give you better control will help you to control him when he does pull. This device isn't mainly for the purpose of training him, but more for your own safety so that you can practice what I am about to suggest. Training will deal with the root of his problem better than a device alone can. If you believe that he is safe around other dogs and will not actually harm them if they meet, then use the device to keep him from pulling you over and take him to public locations with open space areas. Practice his 'Heel" command, and any other short distance obedience commands that he knows, such as "Sit", "Down", and "Stay", in the presence of other dogs at a distance. He should be far enough from the other dogs to be able to listen but close enough to notice the dogs. Reward him for paying attention to you, for looking at the other dogs but then looking back at you right after instead of reacting, for being calm, and for being obedient. As he improves, decrease the distance between him and other dogs slowly over time. Practicing his obedience in a structured way and rewarding him for calm behavior around other dogs should teach him to be more respectful toward you and also to like other dogs better and become more bored with them. If you feel like he would hurt another dog if he were to reach one, then I would highly suggest that you hire a local professional dog trainer who has experience in dealing with reactive and aggressive dogs. I would also suggest desensitizing Duke to a muzzle, so that he can wear that without anxiety, and you can safely train him around other dogs still. To desensitize him to a muzzle grab lots of treats, and over a several day period, have frequent training sessions where he is rewarded for: touching the muzzle, allowing you to place it on him and take it off again, allowing you to hold it onto his face, and then tolerating it staying on eventually. Use a basket muzzle for this so that you can still give him small treats through the holes. You can also use a straw dipped in soft cheese, peanut butter, or something else dog safe and sticky. Do not use other nut butters besides Peanut Butter though because many nuts are toxic to dogs. Also avoid food products that contain Xylitol, because Xylitol is very toxic to dogs. I would also suggest training your other aggressive dog if possible, so that neither dog will undo the other's training. Make sure that you train the other one in a safe way as well though, using a muzzle during the training or hiring a trainer to hep you. A private trainer who will come to your house and meet you at public locations where dogs can be found, or a GROWL Class if your pup is not truly dangerous, or a board and train program that specializes in aggression and can do rapid desensitization, socialization, and management training would all be good forms of training for this type of problem. The GROWL Class will be the least expensive option if you can find one and your dog has never drawn blood on another dog. That class requires that each dog wear a muzzle, and then typically rapidly socializes the dogs together while also working on obedience and control during the class. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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We want our dog to be able to socialize and play with other dogs. We adopted her from the SPCA and they had her in a kennel with two other dogs with no problems. She starts barking and tries to lunge at other dogs when we take her around other dogs. We don’t have any friends with dogs and we were wondering what to do to train/help her.
Hello Hanna, The first thing I would recommend is to see if there is a G.R.O.W.L. class anywhere in your area that you can join. A G.R.O.W.L. class is a class for aggressive or reactive dogs where all of the dogs ware basket muzzles to keep everyone safe, and then work on socialization and behavioral modification up close with many other dogs so that you can speed the training time way up. These classes are by far the quickest way to see results in most cases and you do not need to know other dogs ahead of time. If that is not an option, then I would recommend teaching Bella a very structured "Heel" command, where she is required to walk right beside you and to keep her focus on you and sit when you stop. When she knows that command, then practice her obedience, especially "Heel", somewhere where she can see dogs at a distance. Reward her for focusing on you, heeling, ignoring the other dogs, remaining calm, or for looking at the other dogs but remaining calm, or looking at the other dogs but then looking back at you right afterward. Both her attitude and her manners need to be addressed. She needs to learn to respect and pay better attention to you around other dogs, and to feel calmer and less stressed around other dogs. By working on her obedience commands in a firm, calm, no nonsense sort of way, and rewarding her for the correct response and emotion, you can improve her respect and attention toward you and make being around other dogs more pleasant for her. Start far enough away from other dogs for her to be able to look at them and hear them and be a bit distracted but still respond to you when you start walking her around quickly in the heel position and changing your directions frequently. As she improves, decrease the distance between her and the other dogs, until she can walk past them without reacting one day. Expect this to be a gradual process and not an instant fix though. Because this can be a difficult issue to resolve on your own, if you feel like you need help and cannot find a G.R.O.W.L. class to attend, then I would recommend hiring a trainer with a tract record of experience in this area to help you Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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My dog acts very nice around my family.He rarely fights with my two other dogs and always behaves.However, if my dog sees a random dog or cat inside or outside the house, he always acts very aggressive to the dog or cat that he saw.Therefore, whenever we went to a dog park, I always feel embarrassed because my dog would always bark and couldn't stay calm all the time.This resulted my other dog to feel anxious as well and starts to whine constantly.What should I do?
Hello Amanda, It sounds like the unstructured environment of the dog park might be causing the problem. Dog parks can make some dogs feel defensive, or can encourage rude or dominating behaviors. I would recommend changing his interactions with other dogs first. Instead of going to the dog park with him, at least for now, take him on walks with other dogs where he has to heel and focus on you during the walk. See if you have any neighbors or friends who would like to walk all the dogs together or if there is a group in your area that does dog walks together regularly. Meetup.com will sometimes have dog walking groups. If you have a G.R.O.W.L. class offered in your area, then I would recommend attending one of those with him. That class will provide up-close socialization and manners practice around other dogs who are struggling with the same issue. All of the dogs wear a basket muzzle during the class to ensure that everyone is safe and to allow the owners to have the dogs close together to speed up the training process. I would also recommend working on his obedience skills, such as "Sit", "Heel", "Down", "Watch", and "Stay", and then take him to the parking lot or outside area of the dog park (but not inside), or to a normal park with dogs, and work on his focus on you and obedience around other dogs. "Heel" is an especially good command to work on there. Stay far enough away from the other dogs for him to be able to obey you when you walk him quickly in a heel with lots of turns and commands to keep his focus on you, but still close enough to the dogs to notice the other dogs and be a bit distracted. As he improves and can focus on you better and react to the other dogs less, then gradually work close to the other dogs during the training sessions. Once he is no longer reacting to the other dogs, then you might be able to let him play with other dogs again, but I would recommend avoiding the dog park during busy times when there are dogs that he tends to act aggressive, rude, or pushy toward. Pay attention to which types of dogs are at the park at what times when you are deciding when to go. Another, far better, option is to have play dates with dogs that you know, that Max does well with. If Max is attacking other dogs, then he absolutely should not be playing with other dogs without wearing a muzzle. Being attacked by another dog is not only unsafe for the dog but it can also pass on the aggression issue to whoever he attacks by creating fear aggression in that dog, and that is not something that should be shared! Max still needs to be around other dogs for his on going socialization, but if attacks are the case, then his interactions should be limited to structured walks with other dogs, calm interactions where he is responding to your commands, three second greetings, where he greets the dog for three seconds and then you move him away and reward him for listening to you, and interactions in structured settings like a G.R.O.W.L. class. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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Trigger is submissive happy and playful around humans aswell as getting excited. But when on walks on his lead he barks at other dogs, he's getting a little better but recently he snapped in the face of another dog quite aggressively. He went from wagging his tail to putting his tail between his leg and snapping. The other dog didn't make a sound and wasn't reacting to Trigger at all. We're not sure how to discourage this, and promote playful behaviour.
Hello Emma, Trigger is in immediate need of socialization with other puppies. The behavior that he is displaying is likely based on a lack of socialization and is thus caused by fear, which can lead to aggression. The issue will probably only get worse if he does not get around other puppies. I would suggest joining a puppy class as soon as possible. Ask the trainer about socialization and make sure that the trainer is knowledgeable about proper socialization, canine body language, and how to address fear in dogs. Spend lots of time praising Trigger excitedly whenever he looks at another dog and remains calm, initiates play, allows another dog to sniff him, or explores other dogs. Give him treats for looking at other dogs and remaining calm, for finishing a quick, polite greeting, for looking at you around other dogs, and generally displaying happy or relaxed body language around other dogs. The purpose of the treats is to make the presence of other dogs rewarding while at the same time teaching him good manners. Being around other puppies is what he needs the most though, and it needs to be in an environment where there is a knowledgeable trainer to help him. If you believe that he might bite another puppy, then desensitize him to wearing a basket muzzle until he no longer minds wearing it, and then get him around other puppies who are playing with one another while he is wearing the muzzle. If there is a Sirius Pup puppy class in your city, then I highly recommend that type of class. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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We just rescued our dog from an abusive situation and before he was with that family he was in another abusive situation but dont know all the details from that. Hes very lovable with us and other people he meets, hes good with people at the park but when we see another dog, even in the car, he pulls and starts barking like crazy even when the dog is gone. we have tried to give him a treat to distract him but he ignores the treat.
Hello Emily, I would suggest seeing if you can find a G.R.O.W.L. class in your area to attend with him. A G.R.O.W.L. class is a class designed to intensively socialize reactive and aggressive dogs while all of the dogs wear muzzles for everyone's safety. These classes can be great for quickly defusing aggression related to fear. When you are working with him on your own you might need to increase the amount of distance between him and the other dog so that he can respond still. Work on his obedience, especially a very focused "Heel" command and work on keeping his focus on you, moving him through his obedience rather quickly, and making lots of turns while heeling. The idea is for the other dog just to be background noise and for his focus to stay on you so that he will become bored with the other dogs. You can reward him for obedience, calmness, and focus on you while you are doing this, but it is okay if he does not take the treat. I would highly suggest hiring a train who has access to a facility where you can practice training around other dogs with that trainer, or even better, attending a G.R.O.W.L. class with him if you can find one in your area. Both of those options will likely provide much quicker results because reactivity and aggression can take time to improve otherwise. Another option is to work on up close interactions with other dogs while he is wearing a muzzle, but I would only suggest doing this under the guidance of a qualified trainer who is very experienced with aggression, because if it is done wrong it can it can make the aggression worse or create fear issues in the non-aggressive dog. It needs to be done in a certain way in order to be effective. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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