Are You Guilty Of Encouraging Your Dog’s Lunging ?
That’s right, you could be making the problem worse for you and your dog.
I’m going to give you 3 easy steps to work on this problem but first you need to know:
Why Your Dog May Be Barking and Lunging at Other Dogs
An old training method to correct lunging and barking at other dogs on leash was to give the dog a swift leash correction.
In fact, you might subconsciously be correcting your dog with your leash as a “knee-jerk” reaction to your dog’s sudden bark and lung at a passing dog.
Your leash correction may be making the problem worse by sending the wrong message to your dog.
What’s the message?
Being too close to other dogs causes a unpleasant leash correction from you!
Continuous leash corrections usually don’t have lasting results and over time can:
1. Create stress in your dog and can make it harder for him to calm down
2. It may stop him from doing it with you in that location, but he could easily do it when someone else walks him OR you have him in another location.
3 Steps to Stop Your Dog’s Lunging at Other Dogs
Here are 3 things you can do to immediately begin working with your dog on better skills out on walks.
- Put your dog on a learn-to-earn program at and around your home.
- Work on better listening skills with basic obedience commands
- Modify your dog’s behavior outside with dogs
Step 1: The Value of a Learn-to-Earn Program
The program to fix your dog’s barking and lunging at other dogs means stop all punitive training methods and re-gain control over your dog’s behavior.
This all starts at home by putting your dog on a learn-to-earn program.
What this means is your dog must respond to a command (usually a sit command) to earn the things he wants. This includes things like his food, treats, toys, affection from you, walks and yes, even potty breaks in the back yard!
Your goal it to teach your dog to appreciate you as the provider of all good things that come to him in his life with you.
Step 2: Your Dog Needs to Learn to Listen to You in All Situations
Getting your dog back in the habit of not only listening to you, but wanting to perform for you will prove invaluable outside on walks.
To do this you should begin a program of obedience training. This is not a time-consuming project. What this requires of you is consistent daily practice. You can do this by setting up 3 training sessions a day but for only 2-3 minutes each session.
Each session plan on doing “rapid-fire” of sits and downs. Wean off food treats as your dog gets proficient at his obedience commands.
Once your dog is listening to you inside, train with him in your back yard and later move to your driveway in front of your house. You may find you will have to go back to using food treats (temporarily) in these new locations.
Step 3: Improving Your Dog’s Behavior Around Other Dogs
Teaching your dog that the presence of other dogs predicts good things may take weeks or even months – depending on your dog.
It takes presenting another dog at a distance at first so that you can apply the “Open Bar Technique.”
The Open-Bar Technique, is a science-based exercise developed by Jean Donaldson, author of the Culture Clash and Training Director of the San Francisco SPCA.
Her technique involves giving your dog lots of praise and very high value food treats he gets at no other time except when he is in the presence of other dogs. Practice this exercise at a greater distance at first. A distraction dog comes into view while you praise and treat your dog. Then the distraction dog disappears out of sight. Repeat this exercise for 15 – 20 minutes each time you train.
It’s more effective if you withhold love, affection and these high value food treats even during normal life with your dog. Only present them in the presence of the other dog.
It’s usually difficult finding a resource pool of “other dogs” with which to practice. BUT, another advantage to this technique is that you can set up your own training scenarios if you can’t find a friend with a dog to help you.
Pick your distance away from a frequented doggie pathway to “open the bar” in the presence of the dog then “close the bar” (no treats or praise) when the dog disappears.
Skeptics might say that you are rewarding bad behavior as your dog barks and lunges at the other dog. But according to Donaldson, the power of classical conditioning (pairing praise and high value food treats with other dogs) is so strong it will eventually override any unwanted behavior that your dog initially does.
Your challenge is to stick with the program long enough to see a positive change in your dog. Remember, it could take a couple of months. The value of working your dog around many different dogs is invaluable.
If you are a little nervous in the beginning just take a deep breath and exhale. Calm energy is good. If you think you need some assistance, I’m just a phone call or video call away.
Together We Can Raise A Happy and Obedient Dog
Jim Burwell, is Houston’s most respected dog trainer for 30 years, serving over 12,000 clients. Jim works with you and your entire family to get your dog to be the best dog ever.