Walking your dog aggressive dog should not be frightening or even down right disastrous. But for some it is. It doesn’t have to be that way any more.
Before You Walk Your Dog Again
Before you walk your dog aggressive dog again and really shatter your confidence, here are 3 “Management Principles” to follow for a more controlled and pleasurable walk with your dog.
Principle #1: Manage Your Dog
If you’ve been walking your dog with the wrong equipment, change it. This is especially critical if you have a large dog that is barely manageable on the leash, which is part of your problem.
“What’s wrong with my equipment?”. If you’ve been walking your big, reactive dog on a flat buckle collar or harness (leash attached top-back) you have no control. Even walking a dog on an Easy Walk harness may be difficult for some owners.
The discomfort of choke chains and pinch collars often cause pain or discomfort when correcting a dog for pulling.
Yanking and jerking on the leash to keep from being pulled might very well cause a negative association with the very dog(s) you want your dog to like.
Change your equipment. Walk your dog on a Gentle Leader. Manage your dog by controlling his head. I have seen big dogs easily managed by small owners with the Gentle Leader. I have also experienced a significant reduction of arousal and anxiety in many dogs while wearing the Gentle Leader.
You must read the instructions and watch the DVD that comes with the Gentle Leader so that you can desensitize your dog to wearing it before using it on a walk. This is not a long process. He’ll be good to go in a day.
Managing your dog also means don’t leave home without high value food treats to make a positive association with other dogs. Also do some obedience training on walks as well. Be prepared!
Be smart too. Invest in a bait pouch to hold your treats so that they are readily available. Don’t be stuffing them in your pocket or have to fumble with a zip-lock bag trying to reach a treat when you need it handy now!
The last thing for now on managing your dog is managing your own emotional energy. Staying calm will help your dog to feel calm on walks with you.
Principle #2: Manage Your Distance to Other Dogs
You’ve heard the saying, “Too close for comfort!” Well that holds true for working/walking your dog around other dogs in the beginning.
Every dog, yours included, has a proximity or distance to a distraction that will cause him to pay more attention to the distraction (dogs in your case) than to you when you are closer than you should be. Stay at a safe distance and work on sits and walking while praising and treating your dog for good behavior.
Backing up a few steps and asking for a sit using a high value food treat for attention is a good exercise. Praise and treat for a job well done. Repeat as often as you can whether you see dogs or not. Practicing on walks with no dogs in sight will help you improve your game when dogs are present.
Only get closer when your dog is under control and listening. If he becomes reactive, simply move back and keep on practicing.
Principle #3: Manage Your Leash
Most trainers know that a dog’s natural instinct is to pull or push against applied pressure. I’ve seen and felt it with our lab, Sammy. He’ll push against me with his body and as I use my hands to push back, he resists by pushing back.
You probably have experienced that with your dog as well. The same thing occurs on a leash walk. When you pull on the leash, your dog instinctively pulls in the opposite direction. That direction is usually towards the other dog.
The lesson here is to keep your leash slack to prevent your dog’s urge to pull. No doubt this will take time to master but including the other principles (managing your dog and the distance) makes all this possible in time.
Do your part for your dog with good management on walks. Keep these principles in mind and make them work for you and your dog. You’ll both be glad you did.
Also remember, the more your dog listens to you inside your home because you have taught him proper manners and boundaries, chances are he will listen to you better outside your home.
I’m always curious about your input – it’s important to me. Do you deal with this situation with your dog?
Comment below with your frustration and fear with this.
Remember: “Together, We Can Raise a Happy and Obedient Dog”
Jim Burwell has been Houston’s most respected dog trainer for 25+ years, serving over 10,000 clients. Jim takes the science of dog training and makes it work in your home with your family and dog. He gives you the ability to get the same great behavior from your dog.