Click here to learn more.
The behavior you are describing sounds like barrier frustration. Barrier frustration is distinct from aggression in that the canine is friendly toward other dogs when he is off leash, but is reactive when he is restrained by a barrier. The barrier can be anything from a fence or window to a leash.
As with all behavior issues, the first step is a trip to the veterinarian to determine if there are any underlying medical conditions contributing to your dog’s behavior. Once your dog has been given a clean bill of health, it’s time to start training. In the case of barrier frustration, training should start as soon as possible, as reactions toward other dogs can intensify over time.
Begin by teaching your dog that the sight of another dog means good things will happen. Employ your dog’s favorite doggy friends for these practice sessions, and keep all dogs on leash while you are training. Once your dog has mastered the basics, you can begin to expose him to strange dogs while on leash, either at a dog park or in your neighborhood.
Start with the other dog far enough away that your dog notices him but does not react. Each time your dog looks at the other dog without barking or otherwise reacting, mark with a “good” or a click and treat. When you first begin, your dog will likely be nervous when he sees the other dog and he may only turn toward you for a moment, to get his treat, before looking back at the other dog. Treat frequently in the beginning, until your dog learns to relax.
Once your dog can look at another dog without reacting, teach him to turn and sit facing you when you stop on a walk. Reward your dog for staying in his sit, or for maintaining eye contact with you, while the other dog passes by.
Next, teach your dog to heel on leash as he approaches the other dog. Hold your dog on a loose leash; a tight leash can heighten reactivity. Treat your dog when he walks next to you; if he pulls on the leash or crosses in front of you, stop walking. Use a treat to lure him back to your side. Walk toward the other dog at an angle or perpendicular to the other dog, rather than head on. After a series of successful approaches, reward your dog with an off-leash play session in a safe area.
In addition to teaching your dog to heel, teach him to turn with you on cue. Work on both a 90-degree turn and a 180-degree turn. Give your dog a cue, such as “turn” and lure him towards you. As soon as he turns, treat and continue walking forward rewarding the heel. A turn can be used to create distance between your dog and another dog, and allows you to focus on calming behaviors until your dog learns to relax when another dog is nearby. You can divert your dog’s attention by walking up a driveway, crossing the street, or moving behind a barrier such as a parked car or bush.
Finally, turn spotting another dog into your canine’s cue to do a trick he enjoys. Excellent replacement behaviors include hand targeting, down stay, shake, spin, roll over and play dead.
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Thank you for subscribing to Petwire. Look for the latest newsletter each Wednesday.
Donations are pouring in for Kenny, a
Husky-Shepherd who fractured his front
legs after falling over a 150-foot…
Photographer Maria Sharp’s beautiful
tribute to her 16-year-old dog, Chubby, is
touching hearts all over the…
From the Mastiff to the Great Dane, these
large dogs might look intimidating, but
they tend to be total softies.
Google Street View lets you see the land
where Jane Goodall began her
groundbreaking work with chimpanzees.
Dr. Marty Becker shares easy steps for
cleaning your feline’s ears and checking
for infections or mite infestations.
A frustrated reader asks for help with his
adopted dog, who hasn't made much
progress in his obedience skills.
No one wants to spend October 31 at the
vet ER. Here's what you can do to
prevent common Halloween hazards.
The Russian Blue won’t mind if you have to go to work (to earn money for cat toys), as long as you're back in time for…
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.
Thank you for subscribing.