Are you tired because your dog is dominant with other dogs? Does your bark and pull on the leash toward other dogs on your walks? Does this barking behavior embarrass you?
You are not alone. Many owners have been in your shoes. We assure you that you can receive help and change your dog’s behavior to be more calm through dog training. Salt Lake City has many happy clients of ours that were in your shoes and our now experiencing much more peace with their dogs.
This article is geared to what is called “on-leash reactivity.” This means that your dog barks and lunges at other dogs when you take your dog on leash walks. Here are some tips that can help you create more peace!
1.) Teach your dog a “leave it” cue. When you say leave it your dog should turn away from the stimulus and look at you. Start with food on the ground and then graduate to more distracting stimuli.
2.) Teach your dog to walk loosely on the leash when there are no dogs around. Then get your dog to walk loosely on the leash with distractions that are not dogs.
3.) Train your dog to follow you when you change directions. If you turn around and walk in the opposite direction your dog should follow you. Again practice this when no other dogs are around.
4.) Train your dog any additional basic obedience commands that might be helpful such as sit, down, stay, watch, and target. Again train these obedience commands when no other dogs are around.
5.) Get a decoy dog. A dog that is very calm and is on leash at a distance from your dog. Your dog is also on leash. Your dog is far enough away and is able to be calm. Ask your dog to perform all of the above commands in the presence of the decoy dog. Your dog should remain calm the entire time. If he does not then you are too close to the decoy dog.
6.) Use systematic desensitization to gradually decrease the distance between yourself and the other dog.
7.) Do not use punishment such as shock collars, prong collars or choke collars. Treats and rewards are the best way to train obedience.
8.) Do not walk your dog around other dogs until he can be calm and obedient when he sees another dog. This will be accomplished through consistent training.
Get help! Training a reactive dog alone can be stressful and dangerous. We recommend that you work with a trainer and choose from a list of reward-based dog trainers. Salt Lake City has many options.
Johanna Teresi, Professional Dog Trainer and Owner of Four Legged Scholars LLC, Dog Training, Salt Lake City, Utah