Dear Miss Behavin’:
How do I stop my dog from barking and lunging when he sees another dog when we are out?
Unfortunately this is a common problem that many owners face. The two most common reasons are frustration and fear. Once you figure which one you are working with you can then begin working on getting a better response from your dog.
If you are dealing with frustration; dogs that are good with other dogs, but just have bad greeting skills, you can work on teaching them to greet a dog politely. For this you will want to work on having your dog remain calm as they approach another dog and remain focused on you. You can work on having them sit and look at you several times as they approach your decoy dog. You will only allow the greeting to take place when you have given your dog the okay to do so.
If you are dealing with fear; a dog that may have had a bad experience or missed out on a crucial social period, you will need to work on teaching them that other dogs are not going to harm them. For this you will want to work on teaching your dog that really great things happen when dogs are around and that you will protect them. You will need to find your dog’s favorite treat and save it for when dogs are present. Once your dog notices the other dog, you will start to give them the tasty treat until the other dog is out of sight again. Over time and depending on how long your dog has been practicing the behavior, you will start to see improvements.
The above is just a brief description on how to work with your dog’s reactivity to other dogs. I suggest that you schedule a 1:1 Consultation with one of our behaviorists or sign up for our Bark & Lunge Class to work on the problem with you and your dog or call our Behavior Hotline.