how do i stop my dog going for other dogs when out for a walk. ok when off lead. had dog trainers to exp and no good wasted a lot of money
Sorry you are having this problem with your dog and thank you for asking the question as what you describe is a common problem. There are many dogs that are happy
off lead but on lead appear aggressive. This is usually because off lead they have the choice to keep their distance or approach another dog. On lead they are
effectively trapped by the lead and have no choice. At some stage they want to increase distance between themself and the other dog and they discover that barking
and lunging works well to do this. This is nearly always because they are frightened. You have heard of the 'fight or flight response' when an animal is scared?
Well, flight is not possible because of the lead so they think their only option is to fight.
As I said, this usually starts because the dog is frightened and wants the other dog to go away. However, once they have discovered this strategy works, they
become bolder and appear more aggressive sooner because they are sure of their success. Sometimes these dogs no longer look scared at all. Us owners also tend to
play a part in the behaviour. Depending on many different factors (our personality, the size of the dog, how dangerous the situation looks, how cross the owner of
the other dog looks etc, etc) we tend either to reassure the dog with a soothing "there, there, there's nothing to be scared of", or more likely, we tell the dog
off for being naughty. Guess what? Both these responses increase the likelihood of the behaviour happening again. In the first example the dog is being
reinforced for its fear and aggression and in the second case, the dog now has two things to be worried about, #1 the strange dog and #2 its scary owner. In this
case the dog redoubles its efforts to get the other dog to go away before its owner turns all scary. That's why punishment in these situations ALWAYS increases
So, what to do?1) Prevent rehearsal of the behaviour. This means avoiding walking along narrow paths where your dog will meet others head on whilst on lead. Drive to the park
for the time-being if narrow paths are currently your only means of getting there.2) Chose equipment that gives you comfortable control over your dog. YOur profile doesn't mention any details about your dog so I don't know, size, weight, age
etc. You may find that a padded headcollar gives you more control and makes the training easier. At all costs avoid anything like a check chain that hurts the
dog if it lunges as this will make the behaviour worse.3) Find somewhere you can sit with your dog and look at dogs in the distance and everytime a dog appears, give your dog a tasty treat. This is called counter-
conditioning (Google it - it's a great technique)4) Teach your dog an alternative behaviour. What do you want your dog to do? You could teach your dog to come away from another dog in which case you turn
through 180 degrees and reward your dog with a tasty treat for coming away. If you have to pass another dog you could teach your dog to target your hand so that
it has to turn its head away from the dog as they pass.
I'm sure there are many good trainers out there who can help you. Try APBC members and avoid anyone who uses force or punishment.
Good luck and I hope this helps.
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