One of the worst experiences for a dog owner is when you’re out for a walk with your dog and another dog approaches and you panic. Whether it’s your dog who gets too excited or aggressive, or the other dog, introducing dogs to each other can be a very stressful situation.
Years ago, before I knew anything about dog training, I had a miniature dachshund named Maggie who was a real scrapper! She’d pick a fight with every single dog we ever came across, and the bigger the dog, the more aggressive she’d be! She was a fearless little pooch and Mommy often had to fight the battles she started. Luckily, most dogs, especially the larger ones, would let her get away with it. They would either head the other way or else just stand there and let her bark, growl, and even bite. Thank God none of them ever hurt her! Anyway, it was a terrible situation for me because anytime we were out on a walk or at a park and I’d see another dog, I’d have to pick Maggie up right away so she wouldn’t start a fight. I wish I had known then what I know now – and that is how to avoid this situation to begin with. I hope this article helps someone who has a “Maggie!” 🙂
Is it Aggression or Excitement?
Sometimes it’s hard to tell what a dog is feeling or thinking. The first thing you should do is read this article, Reading Dog Body Language. It’ll help you to figure out whether the dog (yours or the other guy’s!) is about to attack or if they’re just excited. The most common behaviors that indicate aggression rather than excitement are growling of course, showing of teeth, hair standing up, rearing up on their back legs…you get the picture.
You have three options available to you when you find yourself in this situation. But before I explain those, you must realize that you must have a plan of action in place before you even head out on the walk. Also, you must have already established yourself as the pack leader with your dog. If you haven’t done that, then this, and virtually any other behavioral issues you have with your dog, will be quite unmanageable. I suggest you read this article, How to Become the Pack Leader.
Now, the three options you have when you are walking your dog and another dog approaches are:
First: Approach the other dog. Your first option is to go ahead and approach the other dog. While your dog is calm (he will be if you’ve established yourself as the pack leader), approach the other dog on the leash. Stay silent as you walk your dog toward the other dog and let them meet. Stay out of it – I mean, do not upset the calm situation you have in front of you.
Second: Stay away. Your second option is to not approach the other dog – just stay away! Using your gut instinct is going to be your best bet if all evidence indicates you should just walk on past. There could be a number of reasons for this. Maybe you don’t have much time that day so you can’t take the time to work with your dog to make sure he’s calm. Or maybe the other dog is too aggressive or they look unsure, old or scared. Another reason is that it’s good to show your dog that he doesn’t necessarily have to meet and sniff every dog on every walk!
Third: Let your dog decide. Your third option is to calm your dog down, then let him decide whether he wants to approach the other dog. The point of this is to show your dog that once he’s calm, good things can happen. He’ll be allowed to make decisions and he’ll be able to do more things (like play with another dog if he chooses).
All three options are correct choices. It’s up to you to evaluate the situation and decide what’s appropriate at that moment. Younger dogs usually need a bit more calming than older dogs, and taking the time to do this training with them will pay off in the long run. Again, it’s crucial that you learn How to Be the Pack Leader Your Dogs Wants You to Be if you want to have control over your dog.
Avoid this Fatal Mistake!
One of the biggest mistakes people make, regarding this issue and absolutely any other dog training issue, is rewarding bad behavior. For example, if your dog begins barking when he sees another dog and you walk him right over to meet the other dog – then you’re rewarding his barking. This will likely lead to his barking increasing. He’ll not only be barking more and more often on walks, but he’ll begin to see barking as a way to get what he wants. Never reward your dog when he’s behaving badly.
All dogs can learn how to be calm when they see other dogs. It just takes a little bit of know-how by their owners to turn a potentially bad situation into a smooth, calm, enjoyable experience.
Where Can You Get Help?
I recommend a wonderful dog training website run by professional dog trainer, “Doggy Dan.” It’s called The Online Dog Trainer, and it contains more than 250 step-by-step videos about training dogs! Learning Doggy Dan’s 5 Golden Rules of Becoming the Pack Leader will give you the help you need to become the one in charge when it comes to your dog.
Although Becoming the Pack Leader is the most important aspect of dog training, the website contains instruction on virtually any dog training technique you can think of!
Here’s a video just to show you a sample of what Doggy Dan’s videos are like:
Dan offers a 3 Day $1 trial of the site! Visit the site, pay $1, and spend the next three days watching video after video with step-by-step instructions on any dog training issue you may be having trouble with. If you like the site, you can sign up for a membership. But you’re under no obligation!
I hope this article has helped. Please comment below if you have any questions or if you’d like to share ideas on how you introduce your dog to other dogs! Debra
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