Getting my dogs to not lose their shit when they see other dogs

LostNinjaLostNinja Registered User regular
My fiancé and I recently moved to a new apartment building that is much larger, and has a lot more people with dogs than our previous residence. The problem is that when we take our two outside to the pet area to do their business they lose their shit if another dog walks by or comes out. They will just start barking and trying to run towards the other dog (not in an aggressive way). We'll no sooner manage to get one calmed down than the other one will start acting up. Then we will have to wait for them to calm down after the other dog leaves before they will finish, making the whole thing take much longer. This is extra frustrating when it is just one of us taking them both out.

We always wait until the pet area is clear before taking them over, but other owners are increasingly not being as considerate making this an issue that I need to train out of them sooner rather than latter. Any advice, esspecially from from owners who have been through this, would be really appreciated.

Their ages are 1 1/2 and 4 if that plays a factor in how to train them.

Posts

  • dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    How are you "calming" them down? Do you just ask them to stop over and over? You should invest in a choke lead and attend some classes together.

  • LostNinjaLostNinja Registered User regular
    Tighten their leashes (we use retractable) getting them to sit and focus their attention on me, usually by placing a hand on their head. A choke collar is probably going to be a non started with my fiancé.

  • dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    edited December 2015
    If used correctly a choke lead doesn't actually choke. Thats why classes would be a good start. Having a disciplined dog who listens is important. Especially in public.

    They're not socialized so you need to be able to correct their behavior immediately. Begging them to calm down won't work long term and may end out dangerous. Dogs aren't people.

    Edit: I get that choke chains seem mean as shit and abusive when people use them wrong. Putting your hand on their head is attention they probably see as play or reward.

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  • MichaelLCMichaelLC In what furnace was thy brain? ChicagoRegistered User regular
    Yeah, not a dog expert but that sounds like - to them - you're encouraging their behavior.

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  • dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    I've had to go through obedience training with dogs in the past. Though it's been a while, they universally required a choke and a very short leash. Things like free-running retractable leashes and such are things you do once they're appropriately trained and don't actually NEED a leash at all... those things are basically just to get around off-leash laws.

    Chokes are just used to provide immediate corrective action. You give it a quick short yank and it's uncomfortable for about half a second without causing actual pain. The first thing they did at both obedience classes was have the owners put the choke around their own arm and give it a yank so they would understand what they're effectively doing to their dog. Honestly, a basic obedience class would be your best bet... I can't tell you how thankful I always was I had a dog that would come when called. Watching my friends have to run their dogs down or beg them to come back while they run at strangers always made me feel bad for the dog.

  • LostNinjaLostNinja Registered User regular
    Just looked up obedience school, there's one relatively nearby with good reviews, but unfortunately according to their website they don't have an opening until February. Also mentioned the possibility of a choke collar and it went about as well as I expected.

  • LostNinjaLostNinja Registered User regular
    MichaelLC wrote: »
    Yeah, not a dog expert but that sounds like - to them - you're encouraging their behavior.

    How so?

  • HefflingHeffling No Pic EverRegistered User regular
    LostNinja wrote: »
    My fiancé and I recently moved to a new apartment building that is much larger, and has a lot more people with dogs than our previous residence. The problem is that when we take our two outside to the pet area to do their business they lose their shit if another dog walks by or comes out. They will just start barking and trying to run towards the other dog (not in an aggressive way). We'll no sooner manage to get one calmed down than the other one will start acting up. Then we will have to wait for them to calm down after the other dog leaves before they will finish, making the whole thing take much longer. This is extra frustrating when it is just one of us taking them both out.

    We always wait until the pet area is clear before taking them over, but other owners are increasingly not being as considerate making this an issue that I need to train out of them sooner rather than latter. Any advice, esspecially from from owners who have been through this, would be really appreciated.

    Their ages are 1 1/2 and 4 if that plays a factor in how to train them.

    I highly recommend taking your dogs out one at a time. Your dogs are part of their pack, and the pack response to one member getting excited is for the others to get excited. Make sure you and your fiance are calm and collected in these situations. If either of you or excited or nervous in this situation, the dogs will pick up on this and act in the same manner.

    Before you leave your apartment, make both dogs sit down a bit back from the door. Open the door slightly. If they lunge to try and get out, shut the door again. Tell them to sit in a firm voice. Do not repeatedly tell your dog to sit. When they sit on their own, say "Sit" in a firm voice, then praise them. This associates sitting with the command and praise. Praise can be attention, treats, or a favored toy depending on what they best respond too.

    When your dogs are calm and you can open the door fully, you and your fiance should leave the apartment ahead of them. Being in the lead places you in charge of the pack. For dogs, it is very important to have established boundaries. Plan in an extra 5-10 minutes in your departure times to practice this even when not going on walks. It will pay off in scores later on.

    If your dog starts to bark and act wild towards another dog, have the person not holding the leash get between your dog and theirs, then walk forward until your dog is forced to walk backwards. This forces them to focus on you or your fiance, and places you in control of the situation. You can then get them to sit as above.

    If you see your dog about to get wild, you can nudge them with your foot or hand. The sudden, unexpected contact is able to jolt them out of the excited other dog mode, and gets them to focus on the jolt instead. Cesar Milan demonstrates this in the Dog Whisperer, and I've had great experiences using it on our three dogs.

    If a movement doesn't have someone that can sit down opposite those in a position of power and strike a deal, how can that movement achieve success?
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  • dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    LostNinja wrote: »
    Just looked up obedience school, there's one relatively nearby with good reviews, but unfortunately according to their website they don't have an opening until February. Also mentioned the possibility of a choke collar and it went about as well as I expected.

    Understood on the choke. I get that some people think they're like shock collars and rely on a pain response. Whatever you do, you have to both be consistent and firm in whatever action you take. These may be your babies but they aren't humans and function using a different social structure. If you're strict and your fiancee let's them get away with stuff or vice versa, you will really make things hard and the dogs will be extra confused.

    ForceVoidHeffling
  • mtsmts Dr. Robot King Registered User regular
    some things to try
    1. get rid of those retractable leashes. they encourage bad habits in the dog like pulling and make it difficult to correct. get a 6 ft leather leash or something like that.
    2. Pay attention to your own behavior. i bet that whenever you see another dog you tighten up on the leash sinc you ae expecting your dog to respond badly. A lot of dogs will think that is a sign to be on alert and tend to do the things you don't want them to do.
    3. agree about taking them out separately.
    4. definitely try some training.

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  • Fuzzy Cumulonimbus CloudFuzzy Cumulonimbus Cloud my moons are good moons Registered User regular
    Be aware that you may never completely extinguish leash excitement but there are a lot of ways to curb it.
    I definitely agree that the first thing you need to do is get a shorter leash (non-retractable) and walk your dogs separately. Trying to manage both of them at the same time is very very hard and may never work for training.
    With my dog, I have her sit and give her a treat any time she even sees a dog. If she starts barking at the dog, I quickly have her move on to something else. I don't let her dwell on the existence of other dogs. As you make dog-dog encounters more frequent and less of a big deal, your dogs may calm down a bit during each interaction.

  • Fuzzy Cumulonimbus CloudFuzzy Cumulonimbus Cloud my moons are good moons Registered User regular
    Also there is no reason to be using a choke collar or a nose-lead. Both can be very harmful for your dog. There are special leashes that pull perpendicular to your dog to prevent them from pulling on the leash like crazy. They are considered a safe alternative.

    Lovely
  • Fuzzy Cumulonimbus CloudFuzzy Cumulonimbus Cloud my moons are good moons Registered User regular
    Also wanted to point out that pack theory is a theory and not very grounded in the actual scientific literature. Please don't get anxiety over whether or not you are a pack leader or that you have to be in a certain position in order for your dog to listen to you.

    LovelyElbasunutynic
  • FiggyFiggy Registered User regular
    First and foremost, stop looking at this as others "increasingly not being as considerate". This is 100% your problem, not your neighbours'. They shouldn't have to adjust their behaviour because your dogs are not properly socialized.

    Second, get rid of your retractable leashes. It's more difficult to control your dog when it's on a 15 or 20 foot leash. If you're trying to show your dogs they have free reign until you decide to retract it, that's exactly what you're doing. And when they're 20 feet out it's a lot harder to quickly correct undesirable behaviour. I'm not a fan of chock collars, but I've never had a dog who needed one. I've always just used a regular collar and a leash. If you need to jerk the leash to startle or get their attention, I've always felt it's possible with a regular collar.

    As a solution, find a trainer. Your dogs are old enough now that training this out of them won't be easy, especially with their apartment / pet area lifestyle. Expect the first thing a trainer tells you to do is to exercise them. Run them. Go for hikes. Long walks. Etc. Work off that energy.

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  • LostNinjaLostNinja Registered User regular
    edited December 2015
    I tried taking them out separately when I got home from work today and did see an improvement. We saw another dog while I was out with the older one and she didn't respond to it at all. The younger one tends to be the one that instigates it, so it was better not having him out there at the same time.
    mts wrote: »
    some things to try
    1. get rid of those retractable leashes. they encourage bad habits in the dog like pulling and make it difficult to correct. get a 6 ft leather leash or something like that.
    2. Pay attention to your own behavior. i bet that whenever you see another dog you tighten up on the leash sinc you ae expecting your dog to respond badly. A lot of dogs will think that is a sign to be on alert and tend to do the things you don't want them to do.
    3. agree about taking them out separately.
    4. definitely try some training.

    This is something I need to be more mindful of, I do tend to tense up with impending dread a little bit when I see another dog when I'm with them.

    LostNinja on
  • LostNinjaLostNinja Registered User regular
    Figgy wrote: »
    First and foremost, stop looking at this as others "increasingly not being as considerate". This is 100% your problem, not your neighbours'. They shouldn't have to adjust their behaviour because your dogs are not properly socialized.

    Second, get rid of your retractable leashes. It's more difficult to control your dog when it's on a 15 or 20 foot leash. If you're trying to show your dogs they have free reign until you decide to retract it, that's exactly what you're doing. And when they're 20 feet out it's a lot harder to quickly correct undesirable behaviour. I'm not a fan of chock collars, but I've never had a dog who needed one. I've always just used a regular collar and a leash. If you need to jerk the leash to startle or get their attention, I've always felt it's possible with a regular collar.

    As a solution, find a trainer. Your dogs are old enough now that training this out of them won't be easy, especially with their apartment / pet area lifestyle. Expect the first thing a trainer tells you to do is to exercise them. Run them. Go for hikes. Long walks. Etc. Work off that energy.

    I never said it wasn't my problem, that is why I'm trying to solve it. Nevertheless, I do find it incredibly inconsiderate considering I'm the one that is currently out there and their presence is upsetting my dogs. My complex has multiple pet areas and they are rarely all occupied, nor are they so far apart that walking the extra 100ft is some sort of heavy burden.

  • JRoseyJRosey SeattleRegistered User regular
    edited December 2015
    As the owner and trainer of one of the most stubborn dog breeds on the planet I need to second not going the choke collar route. Take them one at a time and REWARD GOOD BEHAVIOR. Carry buckets of treats with you. Youtube how to do clicker training. The MILLISECOND your dog ignores another dog from across the street, reward that dog with clicks, treats, and most importantly, with your super excited demeanor. Show that dog that you are just fucking NUTS that he/she did the right thing. Every time. "Punish" your dog that does bad behaviors by immediately ceasing all interaction with the dog. Stop walking. Stop talking. Don't look at them. After they calm down, start walking again. Your dog will quickly associate good actions with great times and bad actions with boredom.

    Edit: this is a dog thread post pictures of your cute dogs you asshole
    jf42b6crb2un.jpg

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  • SatanIsMyMotorSatanIsMyMotor Registered User regular
    edited December 2015
    LostNinja wrote: »
    Figgy wrote: »
    First and foremost, stop looking at this as others "increasingly not being as considerate". This is 100% your problem, not your neighbours'. They shouldn't have to adjust their behaviour because your dogs are not properly socialized.

    Second, get rid of your retractable leashes. It's more difficult to control your dog when it's on a 15 or 20 foot leash. If you're trying to show your dogs they have free reign until you decide to retract it, that's exactly what you're doing. And when they're 20 feet out it's a lot harder to quickly correct undesirable behaviour. I'm not a fan of chock collars, but I've never had a dog who needed one. I've always just used a regular collar and a leash. If you need to jerk the leash to startle or get their attention, I've always felt it's possible with a regular collar.

    As a solution, find a trainer. Your dogs are old enough now that training this out of them won't be easy, especially with their apartment / pet area lifestyle. Expect the first thing a trainer tells you to do is to exercise them. Run them. Go for hikes. Long walks. Etc. Work off that energy.

    I never said it wasn't my problem, that is why I'm trying to solve it. Nevertheless, I do find it incredibly inconsiderate considering I'm the one that is currently out there and their presence is upsetting my dogs. My complex has multiple pet areas and they are rarely all occupied, nor are they so far apart that walking the extra 100ft is some sort of heavy burden.

    The other people definitely aren't being inconsiderate. In fact, have you considered using the presence of other dogs as an opportunity? Are you and your neighbours all trying to keep the dogs apart? So long as people are ok with it (there are dogs that just aren't in a place mentally to deal with other dogs) you should see if you can actually let all of the dogs meet, smell each other's butts, etc. Once the dogs know each other going outside becomes a bit of a non-event for them.

    Finally, and I know this is the most trite bit of dog advice given, but a tired dog is an obedient dog. Getting your dogs insanely tired and THEN taking them to the common area would be a great way of encouraging the behaviour you want - which in turn lets you reward them for it making it more likely that they'll be good in the future.

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  • WordLustWordLust Registered User regular
    edited December 2015
    My housemate and I have had the task of training a very excitable and stubborn cane corso. When we first got him, he would growl and bark at EVERYONE who came into the house, including our friends and family, which made having guests difficult (since there is no good place for us to shut him away while guests are over). He would also get VERY EXCITED whenever he saw another dog (we have lots of dog owners in our neighborhood).

    We ended up taking him to some classes and also had a professional trainer come over to the house for several sessions. The things that really seemed to help:

    1. He needed to be exposed to other people and other dogs. It seems there is no truly effective way to train a dog how to behave around other people/dogs without taking them around other people/dogs. So in a way, your neighbors bringing their dogs around is an opportunity for you, as frustrating as it may be dealing with dogs who don't know how to behave yet.

    2. Positive reinforcement/rewards get the message across ten times more effectively than negative reinforcement. (Though negative reinforcement is sometimes necessary, positive marks the biggest leaps in progress.)

    3. What we had to do was have someone with another dog (whether in classes or using a friend at home) bring their dog nearby. At home we would have a friend walk their dog on the opposite side of a chain link fence at a nearby park so our dog couldn't actually get to them, but he would still get excited and try to chase it from his side of the fence. We'd have the other dog walk close to get our dog excited. Then, we would use a combination of vocal command and hand signal to indicate "eyes on me" to train him to look at our faces instead of the other dog. He would be rewarded every time he looked at us instead of the other dog. Teaching "sit" and "stay" are also helpful here. (More on that below.)

    4. Another exercise we did with the trainer was to have one person using the "eyes on me" command (whatever word you want to use) and a second person in the house with various noise making objects. The other person would use a noisemaking object or---and this seemed to work best of all---knocking on walls/doors, stomping, rattling doorknobs, etc. Whenever the dog looked, use the "eyes on me" command and reward the dog when it looks at you instead of toward the noise.

    5. Highly recommend pairing every vocal command with some kind of hand/arm signal. This was a new concept for me at the time, but it seems to work great.

    6. Other commands we practiced were, of course, "sit". It's a good idea to have the dogs practice sitting in a lot of potentially excitable situations. If you are only having them do certain commands to correct them when they are misbehaving, it may not work as well (since they only hear them when they are being asked to stop doing something fun). If they associate the commands with positive rewards and fun, though, they won't mind doing them all the time, because they are positive things, right? So for a long time, make the dogs sit (and reward them!) whenever: a) you pass/meet another person--if you stop and talk to the person, they have to sit the whole time, b) you pass another dog, c) you are about to cross a street, d) you are about to open the door to go outside, e) you are about to open the door to come inside, f) you are about to feed them--i.e. make them sit and wait for you to put the bowl down before they attack it, g) make them sit sometimes just for a treat--extra practice.

    7. In addition to "sit", I'd also highly recommend teaching "stay" and "free". Sometimes if you just teach "sit", an excited dog will just touch its butt on the ground, figure that's good enough, and hop right back up and continue whatever it was doing. It has to know to sit and stay sitted. This is a good one to practice at meals. Before they can eat, they have to sit several feet from where their bowl will go and they have to stay until you put the bowl completely down and say "free". If they try to run for the bowl too quickly, pick it up and make them do it over and over again until they do it right. A dog that can sit is good. A dog that can sit and stay sitted is better. (You can also practice this with treats. We will hold a treat in the air, say "sit", say "stay", then slowly back farther away, farther away, while holding the treat in the air where he can see it. He has to STAY no matter how far away we get with it. Then we sit it on the floor, wait a few seconds, then say "free", before he can come get it.)

    8. Seriously, though, positive reinforce the fuck out of them. Practice all the time and give them treats all the time. You might be giving them 7 or 8 treats in a row if they are nailing it. It might feel like you are just dumping a bag of treats over their head for a while, but it's good practice, good reinforcement, and it works. And it's treats, so they're having a great time.

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  • chromdomchromdom Why do bad things keep happening to me? Oh yeah, because of the things I've done.Registered User regular
    This is just barely related, but it's a thing I like a whole bunch:
    DOOY16s.png

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  • LostNinjaLostNinja Registered User regular
    Thank you @WordLust , that is all really great advice, and thank you everyone else as well.

    So far we've started taking them out individually and making them sit before leaving to go outside, and before coming back in, as well as making sure that they are not leading us when we go for a walk.

    We're still currently using the retractable leashes, but they stay locked in a much shorter length to encourage them to walk beside us, and we only really release them when they are in the pet area, and lock them in again the second they are done going to the bathroom.

    Since we started taking them out separately the older one has twice now kept her calm when seeing other dogs. I still haven't seen any other dogs while out with the younger one, but we have encountered other people and he hasn't barked once. He was never too bad when seeing other people, but that does show a bit of an improvement that I'm seeing taking him out alone.

    I have looked into training classes, but the closest one that would be feasible for us to take them to doesn't have an opening until February. Would you guys recommend taking them to separate classes as well?

    Also since I was rude and didn't post pics
    i9dhlqp4b1ap.jpeg the big one is the older one, and the little one is the 1 1/2 yr old

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  • HefflingHeffling No Pic EverRegistered User regular
    They are both cute. I think it is more important that both you and your fiance attend the training class than both dogs do. Your dogs will follow the lessons that you teach them, but you both have to teach them consistently.

    I'm super happy to hear it's going better!

    If a movement doesn't have someone that can sit down opposite those in a position of power and strike a deal, how can that movement achieve success?
    Lovely
  • KneelKneel Ten thick coats Registered User regular
    edited December 2015
    Just caught this thread and I've got some similar issues myself. Excitable three year old German Shepherd dog (Loki) and a ten month old Staffordshire Bull Terrier bitch (Skadi).

    AKA these two sleepy canines:
    u4ku021z67ol.jpg

    Skadi pulls on the lead when she sees other dogs, but is otherwise quiet. She only barks during play, at cats, for attention or at feathers(!).
    Loki barks at the front door, at dogs walking past our back yard fence and at people visiting. When on the lead he pulls towards other dogs and used to bark at them, but I've started using a Halti head collar on him and while it hasn't completely stopped his 'leash behaviour', as I've heard it called, it has reduced it significantly while also making him easier to control. I've also started walking both dogs together and that seems to help a little.
    When off the lead - which is rare - and in the presence of another dog he'll run to the dog, sniff it head to tail and then start bounding around playfully. He is by no means an aggressive dog, but he seems aggressive when he's pulling on the lead and barking. @WordLust - I'm going to pinch some of your advice there and put it into play with Loki.

    TL:DR: @WordLust is awesome, so are Halti head collars.

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  • TechnicalityTechnicality Registered User regular
    From my experiences walking my dog, there are generally three types of encounter.

    1) Both dogs are chilled out or happy to see eachother, and engage in a happy round of bum sniffing.

    2) One or both dogs get nervous or aggressive (sometimes in the middle of what you think is a type 1), but both owners stop and calmly chat for a bit at a safe but close distance and give them a chance to calm down. Sometimes they calm down enough to interact, sometimes not.

    3) One or both dogs get nervous or aggressive, and one of the owners drags their dog away or picks them up.

    Type 2 almost always becomes type 1 eventually, but even when it doesn't things generally stay manageable. Type 3 gets worse every time. Type 2 is also really easy to initiate if the owner doesn't immediately run for it, just take an interest in their dog (how old is it, rescue or puppy etc.). Even if your dog is being a bit crazy most people love to talk about their dog and will stop for a minute or so.

    Based on this if I started having problems with mine I'd be seeking more dog interactions not less. Similarly if she started getting defensive about the house or garden I'd try to get more people and dogs to visit. As some people have said things like Dog training/socializing classes, friends/family/neighbours, organized group dog walks.

    Also, please don't be one of those "my dog is not aggressive" people. My dog has been attacked three times since I got her and in all of those cases the owner stood there doing nothing and saying things like "he doesn't normally do this" or "don't worry he's not an aggressive dog". One of these was a calm encounter that escalated very quickly. I've never had things escalate that far with an owner who was keeping an eye out for the possibility. Statistically something like 40% of dog bites have an undiagnosed medical condition as a contributing factor, so it is important to accept that you may have no idea what your dog is currently going through.

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    tynicSatanIsMyMotor
  • LostNinjaLostNinja Registered User regular
    From my experiences walking my dog, there are generally three types of encounter.

    1) Both dogs are chilled out or happy to see eachother, and engage in a happy round of bum sniffing.

    2) One or both dogs get nervous or aggressive (sometimes in the middle of what you think is a type 1), but both owners stop and calmly chat for a bit at a safe but close distance and give them a chance to calm down. Sometimes they calm down enough to interact, sometimes not.

    3) One or both dogs get nervous or aggressive, and one of the owners drags their dog away or picks them up.

    Type 2 almost always becomes type 1 eventually, but even when it doesn't things generally stay manageable. Type 3 gets worse every time. Type 2 is also really easy to initiate if the owner doesn't immediately run for it, just take an interest in their dog (how old is it, rescue or puppy etc.). Even if your dog is being a bit crazy most people love to talk about their dog and will stop for a minute or so.

    Based on this if I started having problems with mine I'd be seeking more dog interactions not less. Similarly if she started getting defensive about the house or garden I'd try to get more people and dogs to visit. As some people have said things like Dog training/socializing classes, friends/family/neighbours, organized group dog walks.

    Also, please don't be one of those "my dog is not aggressive" people. My dog has been attacked three times since I got her and in all of those cases the owner stood there doing nothing and saying things like "he doesn't normally do this" or "don't worry he's not an aggressive dog". One of these was a calm encounter that escalated very quickly. I've never had things escalate that far with an owner who was keeping an eye out for the possibility. Statistically something like 40% of dog bites have an undiagnosed medical condition as a contributing factor, so it is important to accept that you may have no idea what your dog is currently going through.

    I am guilty of being the type 3 owner that tries to get my dog away out of embarrassment. I will work on engaging in type 2 to get it down to a 1. Don't worry though, I am definitely not one of those "my dog isn't aggressive" people. Usually it comes off more as nervousness or a "hey it's another dog" type of acting up or bark, but I always keep enough of a distance and the leash locked enough that they'll never get the chance to attack another dog. And it hasn't happened yet, but if we hear them instigate a mean growl towards a person or another dog they'd get punished.

    Technicality
  • CiriraCirira IowaRegistered User regular
    @Kneel If you're having problems with one of your dogs running at other dogs only on leash you may just try turning around and going back the other direction (or walking in a circle) to break the sight of the other dogs. Make sure to sort of naturally turn and not drag the dog away. This tends to calm down my cattle dog as she gets so hyper focused on other dogs at times that she forgets how to act even though she's fairly well socialized. Turning around (or doing a very wide circle) tends to make her refocus on me without being quite as excited and tends to allow her to approach other dogs then without seeming too aggressive. It took quite awhile for this training to take effect but it works for her.

    One other thing to try is to get friends that have dogs that you know are socialized well. Have them help you practice the approaches with the dogs and treat the good behavior and ignore the bad behaviors. The dog will pick up how you expect them to behave in such an encounter and gradually it will get better. The extra socializing may help as well.

    Have the friend(s) walk by you without interacting with you and switch it up so that they talk and interact at times also. If you know the people and the dogs that are helping you it should relax you some so the dog isn't taking any anxiety queues from you that might be causing the behavior also.

    Lovely
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