Whenever I meet owners who tell me their dogs’ lunge at other dogs they meet while out walking I try to put myself in the dog’s shoes. What would make me leap at another dog?
Many owners tell me their dogs ‘bristle’ even before the other dog comes into view. Obviously, dogs are not psychic so how do they know to prepare themselves for battle with a dog they haven’t seen? It’s a conditioned response to clues they get from their handlers.
Typically an owner seeing another dog approach will instinctively tighten the lead and become nervous. Worse still, the handler will paint a picture in his head of what is to come. The dog reads all these signs and know what’s expected of him and lunges exactly on cue.
To cure this behaviour you must educate your dog to IGNORE other dogs which you can do by snapping the lead and using the command ‘Leave it.’ This is better done with another calm dog or in a class environment NOT in the park where excited dogs run wild.
DO NOT ALLOW YOUR DOG TO MAKE EYE CONTACT WITH ANOTHER DOG WHILE IN AN EXCITED OR AGGRESSIVE STATE.
Once your dog understands what’s expected you must change YOUR habits. Keep a loose lead with your head up, shoulders back and a confident picture of success in your mind. Walk by at a brisk pace not allowing your dog to dwell on the other dog and say as little as possible. Do not go into a frenzy of praise simply tell him ‘good boy’ quietly and move on.
Your dog will respond to YOUR frame of mind so be confident.