Dogs are, by nature, very territorial and aggressive. They are brimming with a lot of energy and if not channelized in the proper direction, this energy can neither do them and nor their owner any good.
So while it should be considered normal to see your pet dog lunge and run after other dogs, it’s also essential that you nip this behavior in the bud as soon as you can. You must have often found yourself bogged down by the question: “how do i stop my dog running after other dogs?”
The following guide attempts to answer some very pertinent questions asked frequently by dog owners, like:
– how to stop my dog chasing other dogs
– how to stop my dog growling at other dogs
– how do i get my dog to stop chasing cars
– why does my dog attack other dogs
Additionally, this brief overview will help you understand better why your dog barks and chases other dogs, and what exactly you can do to preclude that.
REASONS FOR REACTIVITY:
Nearly all reactivity stems from a deep-seated fear. Basically, when your dog behaves aggressively, he is able to avoid other dogs as well as people. Believe it or not, that is exactly what he wants. Off-leash, your dog could run away but when on-leash, he feels trapped and behaves aggressively to set up his defenses and protect himself in the process.
Therefore, fear is the most common reason behind the aggressive outlook of your dog.
The second most common reason for reactivity is irritation. Sometimes dogs tend to pull and bark even on-leash because they want to make friends with other dogs or get them to play.
You will often notice your dog getting frustrated when he’s kept behind a fence. That is simply because he is dying to get to what’s on the opposite side.
However, we tend to use this reason more often than we should because we prefer viewing our dog as wanting to engage in play, rather than acting from fear.
Before you assign any reason to his aggressiveness, try evaluating the circumstances that surround him in his daily life.
If you have multiple pets at home, then he’s most likely to snap and lunge at others to protect his territory.
Dogs less than 6 years old mostly exhibit aggressive behavior to coax others into playing with them and making friends with them.
As said before, sometimes this reactivity is nothing more than a nervous reaction to insecurity and fear.
Remember, you’re not alone who thinks, “my dog barks and growls at other dogs”, and mitigating this attitude in your pet is not as difficult as it seems.
The following section discusses all that you can do to manage his aggressiveness.
MANAGEMENT TIPS & TRICKS
The most immediate help you can render at the moment is a set of foolproof management techniques. Consider the following:
1- Precautionary Measures:
While walking your dog, if you notice another dog across the street or around the corner, just turn and go in another direction. Do not wait for your dog to notice him and start reacting. This way you’ll end up avoiding the problem, and prevent your pet dog from repeating the reactive behavior.
Remember, avoidance may not be the solution to every problem in the world, but in this case, that’s your only precaution against triggering reactivity in your dog. The more opportunities you give your dog to bark and run after conspecifics, the more likely that he will do it again. After all, showcasing such a behavior does keep the other dogs away.
2- Reducing Stress By Increasing Space:
In the canine world, a dog that directly walks towards another dog is considered downright rude, or even a threat. However, we put our pets in this position every time by walking on narrow sidewalks. Therefore, it’s really very common to come face-to-face with another dog without any room for you and your pet to move away. You can prevent this by finding a less crowded space to walk your dog- like a park or an office parking lot. This will help your dog feel less nervous and have more fun during the walk.
3- Leave The Leash Loose:
Despite all attempts at keeping your pet from barking and running after his conspecifics, you may still one day encounter a catch 22 situation where he lands right in front of this rival. When this happens, try to stay calm.
If you show anxiety and tighten your grip on the leash, your dog will sense something is wrong and become twice as anxious as you. Also, refrain from pulling back on the leash, because when you do so, your dog instinctively pulls forward.
4- Use A Leather Leash:
It always helps to use a leash that stays steady in your hands during an emergency. A leather leash, for instance, won’t slip through your fingers as easily as a leash made of nylon. The ideal leash, in essence, is a taught leather string with knots tied at an interval of few inches, and with a no-pull harness for extra control. With such a leash, you get a stable grip and possess better control when your pet starts lunging.
You’ll be amazed to know that when you make your dog just sit and stay put while his conspecific approaches, he feels less agitated and behaves like a docile duck with no route of escape!
FANTASTIC FOUR EXERCISES TO CONTROL REACTIVITY
The aforementioned precautionary measures are by large, effective only for a short period of time.
To ingrain the quality of calmness in your dog, you need to start working with him.
Here’re a couple of exercises you can perform to prevent your pet from running after his conspecifics:
1- Teaching Response To A Recall:
A recall is when you call your pet dog and he stops right in his tracks to come back to you, forgetting whatever he was chasing before. Often dogs ignore the recall because a new sight or smell that has fancied their attention seems more interesting than their owners. When you teach your dog to respond to a recall, you find it easier to control him from reacting to the presence of other dogs.
Turning a lesson to a game can be a very sound way of training your dog. When your dog plays these games, he finds it both rewarding as well as fun to respond to the recall.
A.) “Follow Me”:
In this exercise, you will be able to train your dog to come enthusiastically to you whenever you call.
To start off, walk a few feet away from him while facing him and then drop a delicious treat on the floor next to your feet. Call your dog to come to you.
As soon as he starts running towards you, move a few feet further away.
After he has eaten the first treat, toss another treat next to your feet and call him again
Repeat this exercise by changing the direction and distance you move but take care to face him always and stay within his sight.
B.) “Hide & Seek”:
This particular exercise teaches your dog to hunt for you upon hearing your call.
Start off by putting some kibble or moist treats in sandwich bags. Stash them up in high locations like a mantelpiece or a kitchen cabinet. As an alternative, hide his favorite toys.
Call your dog at random times from another room. As soon as he arrives, hold his leash and reward him well.
C.) “Round & Round”:
This exercise teaches your pet to react to the recall command much more than other enticements.
Start by having, at least, three people stand in a circle. Now all of you should call him turn by turn and by using the same command.
When the dog responds to the recall, hold his collar and reward him well. If the dog happens to go to the person who didn’t call him, then that person should simply ignore him. Following this, the person who had originally called should keep repeating the command, until the dog responds accurately.
To repeat this exercise, keep changing the order in which you and your friends call so the dog won’t know who’ll be next. This tiny measure will also encourage him to pay attention.
D.) “Out Of The Gate”:
The premise of this game is to enhance your dog’s enthusiasm to get to you as soon as possible. Ask your friend to aid you by holding him.
Now walk away from him, turn to face him and call him. Your friend should hold on to his leash for a few seconds before finally letting him go. This will invariably build up his motivation to reach you. When he gets to you, at last, reward him with a little treat or a warm hug.
2- Make Use Of Training Tools:
Almost any job becomes easier when you have access to the right set of tools, and training your dog is no exception. Right from enrichment toys and collars to no-pull harnesses, tools allow us to communicate better with our pets and even speed up the training session. Determine an appropriate set of tools for your dog and use them to control his reactivity.
Consider the following while making a choice:
More than just a canine style statement, collars are effective as training tools as well. Since they’re designed for varying purposes, you must consider what you would like to accomplish when you choose one for your pet. While some collars are worn as license tags, others are made for training purposes.
B) Head Collars & Body Harnesses:
Head collars and body harnesses are the ideal gear to solve problem behaviors in your pet. They do an excellent job of curbing his tendency to pull and jump at his conspecifics.
Dogs adore crates as they are confined, warm places exclusive to them. When you keep your pet in a crate, he feels secure, positive and feelings of frustration or anxiety automatically wane off. This keeps him calm even in the presence of other dogs.
Clickers are miniature devices that emit an audible click sound. You can use this sound to let him you know that you approve of his calm demeanor in front of other dogs, as well as his ability to respond to a recall. This is an effective way of rewarding your pet and urging him to repeat this behavior.
E) Remote Training Collars:
Technology has become the way of our life now. You can use remote training collars to communicate with your pet from a distance. For this, your dog should wear the receiver collar which you shall manage with a hand-held remote. When you push the button on the remote, an immediate signal is transmitted to the collar that alerts your dog through smell, touch as well as sound.
F) Barriers & Deterrents:
Whatever be your lifestyle, barriers and deterrents are important training tools that establish boundaries for your pet so everyone can dwell peacefully together. They are especially useful when you have more than one dog in your place.
G) Bark Control Devices:
These devices reduce nuisance barking. They are training tools that can be used effectively to correct your dog’s reactivity and thus prevent him from barking and lunging unnecessarily at his conspecifics.
3- Practice Aversion:
Training tools and exercises are all fine to reduce reactivity in your pet, but these take time to implement and cannot reap results on the spot. However, there’s still one exercise that can instantly render the desirable outcome.
That’s the “aversion exercise”.
The next time you’re out walking your dog, practice commanding to get your dog to recall. Do this as soon as you find him barking or attempting to chase another dog. If he recalls, reward him profusely.
But if he chooses to ignore your command and runs after the other dog, provide him with an aversive or a meaningful nuisance ( For e.g: shaking a can of stones or using a tool like a remote training collar). This is one of the best ways to let him know that chasing doesn’t work in his favor at all.
Practice this exercise consistently until your dog decides to recall instead and receive rewards.
Repeat this exercise at different locations, with different chase items and at different times of the day. This way you will know for sure that your pet will respond to your recall command no matter how exciting the things available to chase are. This is known as “proofing”, a behavior to ensure that your pet understands what is expected, each time you command.
4- The “Trick Or Treat” Game:
This game changes your dog’s response towards his conspecifics. You can try this exercise at the pet store or a dog park, basically, any place that is frequented by dogs. Whenever he notices another dog, quickly divert his attention by giving him treats. Ensure to stop the treats as soon as the other dog goes away or you walk away with your dog.
This exercise will do wonders to change your dog’s emotional triggers with his conspecifics from “That’s annoying. I want to chase it away” to “Fellow dogs make good things happen”! After few days of repeating this exercise, your dog will actually see his conspecific and look at you, in the hope of a tasty treat!
TIPS TO WALK YOUR REACTIVE DOG:
You must have often wondered.” why is my dog aggressive to other dogs on walks”. Here are some ideas that can help you and your dog to stay calm during outdoor walks. Ensure to use them often and not only when you notice another dog. Else, you’ll be literally giving the signal that there’s a dog around the corner. Remember, the more crazily you behave, the more your pet will focus on you, rather than scanning ahead for plausible danger.
The easiest way out is obviously to avoid other dogs. It’s best not to wait for your pet to react. Move away in the other direction as soon as spot another dog ahead.
#2 Don’t Panic:
The biggest mistake that dog owners make is panicking, raising their voice or yanking back on the leash upon spotting a dog. They believe that panicking will control their dog better. However, that only worsens the situation further. When at home, practice a phrase to command your dog from getting reactive. Also, reward him with treats while you do so. Your dog will respond whenever you say that phrase. When you use it during the walks, it will let you divert his attention from “encroaching danger”.
#3 Turn & Leave:
While walking if you suddenly encounter a stimulus ( like another dog), just turn in the opposite direction with your dog quickly. Refrain from pulling the leash when you do so. Use your arms, hips and legs to help him turn the opposite way. Always remember to turn him to your right if he is on your right side and to your left if he is on your left side. Talk to him the entire time you’re turning him around. With small dogs, it advisable to bend your knees a bit.
#4 Do A Banana Curve:
When you’re walking through narrow sidewalks, you won’t be able to turn around. So the only way to spare your pet the humiliation of being challenged is by doing a banana curve A banana curve is when you move on a long arc away from another dog, as though you’re sauntering in a banana shape.
#5 Be Unpredictable & Fun:
Most importantly, have fun while walking your dogs. Don’t approach this time with tension. Explore off-beaten paths and change your pace as well as direction during the walk. Go slowly first before speeding up and then rotate once. Repeat this procedure. When you keep your walks unpredictable and lively, your dog stays more focused on you ( his crazy, unpredictable owner) rather than his surroundings.
ONLINE DOG TRAINING: A BLUEPRINT TO AID YOUR DOG
An online dog training course trains your dog from the comfort of his couch. It encompasses some very effective tips and techniques to calm his reactive nature and help him respond to your commands.
With this course, you can expect to learn:
– how to train your dog not to attack other dogs.
-To mitigate dog aggression toward other dogs on leash.
Most importantly, this course trains your dog to control his aggressiveness.
Living with an aggressive dog is no cakewalk. It may even be downright embarrassing.
But however dim things seem now, you clearly love your pet and wish the best for him.
So before you go all bogged down thinking “how do I stop my dog running after other dogs?”, remember that your dog doesn’t like to be aggressive either. He too is trying his best to cope up.