One of the quickest ways to ruin a nice walk is when your dog lunges at other dogs. Your otherwise mild mannered pooch gets a nasty side when meeting another dog on the leash. It happens all the time and it can be scary. Luckily, we can help you fix it. Here is the best way to introduce dogs when out on a walk.
Everything from Great Danes to Chihuahua’s can get excited on a walk. Some look like they are going to explode when they see another dog on the leash! In the best circumstances, this can be annoying and hard as the leash holder. It can also be scary and dangerous, quickly escalating out of control.
Dog Aggression or Over Excitement
The first thing you need to know is if your dog is being aggressive or if she is over excited. If your dog is being aggressive, you need to avoid the other dog. Check out our earlier post on dog leash aggression for tips on how to handle that situation.
If your dog is over excited, that’s better, but still not an ideal situation. You shouldn’t approach other dogs if your dog is in this state. If your dog is barking, eyes bulging, rearing up and pulling on the leash, chances are good that something will go wrong when you meet the other dog.
4 Steps to Follow When Your Dog Lunges at Other Dogs
If your dog lunges at other dogs when you are out on a walk, try following these 4 steps to make your walk safer and more enjoyable.
1. Be Aware
You can avoid many problems by being alert and seeing trouble ahead. Keep an eye out for what’s ahead. Pay close attention for other dogs. You need to watch for those out on walks and the ones out in yards. Sometimes you might be surprised to find one not on a leash or in a fenced yard.
The key here is to avoid surprises. The more you see, the less likely you are to be surprised. If you spot another dog, move on to step 2.
2. Assess the Other Dog
This can be hard to do from far away, but you want to try to get a read on the other dogs demeanor. Is he pulling, barking and acting like a nut? Is he aggressive? Is he even on a leash? What is the demeanor of the walker? Are they struggling to keep the dog under control?
If you notice any of those signs, you should walk to the other side of the street or take action to avoid coming in contact with the other dog. One over excited dog is enough!
In this step, it is best to trust your gut instincts. Sometimes you just get a bad vibe from people. The same is true with dogs. If you’ve got a hunch, just stay away.
If the other dog is not aggressive or over excited, move on to step 3.
3. Check your Dog
Now that you have a read on the other dog, check in with your buddy. How is your dog doing? If your dog is acting aggressively, then avoid any contact. If your dog is excited or over excited, move on to step 4.
4. The MAC Step
MAC stands for the three choices you have at this point. After you have gone through steps 1 through 3, you can do 1 of 3 things:
M: Meet the Other Dog
A: Avoid the Situation, or
C: Calm Your Dog to meet the other dog.
When you go to meet the other dog, simply approach the other dog on the leash. Yes, this is the ultimate goal! Remember that we are looking to reward good behavior so do not
get in the way in this situation. Stay silent as you walk your dog towards the other dog and let them meet. In other words stay out of it and do not upset the calm environment that you have in front of you.
How Do I Calm My Dog?
The really important point to remember is that you are taking time out to show your dog that if they calm down (even just a little bit) good things happen. Over time your dog starts to learn that the calmer they are the more chance there is of meeting the other dogs.
Younger dogs in particular will often need a bit more calming than older dogs and this training will certainly pay off in the long run.
The secret to calming your dog in this situation is to establish yourself as the pack leader. This will take a little time and training, but it’s not as hard as it sounds.
Doggy Dan, a professional dog trainer, has a video site that will show you his five Golden Rules to becoming the pack leader. It’s good stuff, so check it out. It will give you the assurance that you are in charge and that your dog is looking up to you and respecting you for all the decision making. Visit Doggy Dan’s video website here to learn how to
become the Pack Leader.
Don’t Make This Mistake…
The biggest mistakes people make is rewarding bad behavior. If your dog is barking at another dog across the street, don’t cross the street. Even if the meeting goes well, you are teaching your dog to bark and get excited. This excitement will increase every time your dog sees a dog on the walk until it is almost unbearable and you realize you have a problem!
All dogs can learn to be calm as they approach other dogs, it just takes a bit of commitment from you to turn them around. It’s not complicated once you know how. Take the time at home to establish yourself as the pack leader so that any training you do has the maximum impact. Remember the more your dog sees you as the one in charge, the more notice they will take of you and what you are doing!
That’s all for now. Keep being a great pet parent and remember that all doggies are Good Doggies!