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One of the best parts of owning a dog is the ability to engage in fun and interactive outdoors activities. Walks, runs and excursions to outside markets or fairs are all much more fun with your trusty canine companion by your side. When your dog lunges, pulls and jumps when approaching other dogs, however, this enjoyable activity can quickly turn into an anxious, stressful and hectic chore.
Dogs that jump on other dogs don’t necessarily mean any harm. Dogs consider play and touch one of their primary ways of communication. Younger dogs will often jump on other dogs out of exuberance or excitement over meeting a potential new “friend.” But this behavior can lead to unintentional aggression when the other dog isn’t used to forward behavior, isn’t friendly, or otherwise feels threatened. One of the easiest ways to prevent any incidents and protect your ability to enjoy outside time with your pooch is to train him or her not to jump on other dogs.
Training your dog not to jump on other dogs is more than just a single command or behavior. Unlike simple tasks such as 'sit', 'down', or 'stay', training your dog not to jump will involve several different behaviors, stringed together in a technique called shaping. For the novice dog trainer, never fear. This task is much simpler than it sounds and there are several ways to go about training your dog not to jump on other dogs.
Before you get started you will need several easy-to-find items in order to set you and your pooch up for success. First, you will want to acquire a sturdy leash and collar for your dog. We prefer a flat collar with a buckle for this task, but a martingale style collar or harness will also work. Your leash should be of medium length, though you may want to acquire a longer leash as your dog progresses in their training and graduates to additional space to roam free while you’re outside.
A treat pouch that can be hooked to your pocket or belt and a selection of tasty treats will also come in handy. Finally, a friend or neighbor’s well-behaved and trained older dog will provide a great training tool to build up to interacting with strange dogs on the trail and may also provide a calming presence and a source of leadership for teaching good dog manners.
The Attention on Leash Method
Start out with your dog on leash in the back yard. You’ll want to begin here instead of a public sidewalk, path or trail so that you can avoid distractions during the initial training period and set your dog up for success.
Walk with attention
Walk with your dog around the yard, on leash. From time to time, say your dog’s name or tug the leash gently, just enough to get your dog’s attention. When your dog looks at you, treat and praise.
Repeat the process of walking and treating until your dog reliably is looking at you during your walk. Once this happens, begin adding in the command “look” or “look at me” which will be your verbal cue for the behavior.
Add a distraction
Once your dog is checking in with you reliably on command, introduce a friendly neighborhood dog at a great distance. Every time your dog wants to pull towards the dog, give them the “look” command and treat. If your dog is too distracted, increase the distance or go back to no distractions.
Repeat until your dog is reliably ignoring the other dog and focusing on you. Slowly decrease the distance over multiple sessions, and move the training to a public location, building up to strange dogs and distractions until your dog is ignoring everyone and, instead, focusing on you for their treat.
The Reward Based Method
This approach is best for dogs that are dog friendly and are excited about seeing other dogs. It is based around the concept that being allowed to approach another canine is something they enjoy and they’ll only be rewarded with it when on their best behavior. Start out on leash in your backyard with a neighbor’s friendly and calm dog.
Have both dogs begin to approach each other on leash. The moment your dog begins to pull, lunge or jump towards the other dog you should immediately stop and the well-behaved dog should turn around and walk further away. Your dog has a strong pulling reflex so its important that you not tug your dog. Instead, be a tree and remain perfectly still until your dog calms down.
Once your dog is perfectly calm, allow the neighbor dog and your pooch to begin approaching each other again. Pause again the moment your dog pulls, with the neighbor dog turning and walking away.
Repeat the above steps until your dog understands that pulling, jumping and being excitable will not get them what they want; namely being able to play or interact with the other dog. This may take some time so have patience and go slowly, not being afraid to increase your distance.
Take it on the road
Once your dog has mastered approaching a known dog in the back yard, repeat this process in public places and with new dogs. Try sitting near a dog path at a distance, then slowly closer, moving forward only if your dog is calm and collected. Eventually your pooch will learn that only when they behave, without jumping, will they be allowed to say hello to other dogs.
The Leash Restraint Aversion Method
This method is another version of the rewards based approach, but suitable for dogs that are more excitable, have higher energy or may not enjoy the company of other dogs. Start off in your back yard or in a familiar area such as a frequent walking path where your dog has minimal distractions. With your hand firmly holding the leash, place your foot on the leash on the ground so that your dog has room to move but not to jump or lunge.
Approach and treat
Wait for another dog to approach. When they begin to get closer, but before your dog starts jumping, start treating and praising your dog.
The moment your dog starts jumping, immediately stop treating and stand still with your foot on the leash. Your dog will not be able to jump and you should remain still and ignore their “bad” behavior.
Repeat this, moving slightly further away from the path if need be, until your dog begins to stop jumping reliably as another dog walks by. If a dog walks by successfully without your dog jumping at all, provide higher value treats and lots of praise.
Practice this approach, moving closer to the path and other dogs as your dog learns that allowing a dog to go by without jumping will earn your pooch lots of tasty rewards. Before you know it, you and Fido will be enjoying calm walks without excess drama, stress, anxiety or jumping.
By Kimberly Maciejewski
Published: 01/19/2018, edited: 01/08/2021