It’s loud, embarrassing and drives many dog owners to just give up walking. Lunging and growling at other dogs and people can be a challenge, but with the help of a professional trainer and a few changes in the way you handle your dog, you can get this behavior under control.
- Have your dog earn all of his rewards including meeting another dog. When dogs are not given limits they simply try to take what they want. When you have your dog earn his food and treats, wait politely as you go through doorways first, and in general respect you he is more likely to listen to you. Have your dog learn to do something like touch your hand or sit in order to earn the opportunity to meet a friend.
- Teach your dog to look at you. So many dogs will just ignore their owners when in pubic. Start training in a quiet place using high value treats and then gradually add distractions.
- Learn and practice heeling in a circle. Heeling in a circle and adding U-turns helps you control what your dog sees and has access to. It puts you back in charge and allows you to move away from the other dog under control and with confidence.
- Use an Easy Walk harness, Gentle Leader or similar product. Sometimes dogs will lunge out of fear and adding the pain of a prong or choke collar not only can harm your dog but actually increase anxiety. This is because your dog may actually begin to associate the discomfort with the approach of the dog or human.
- Use a marker sound or word to indicate success. When teaching a new behavior your dog will need to know he is on the right track. I use the word YES or a clicker to isolate and reward good behavior.
- Be patient and practice often. Change does not happen right away and takes multiple reinforcement.
- Consult a force-free trainer. Since anyone can say they are a dog trainer make sure that your prospective candidates have the CPDT-KA designation and discuss and observe their training style.
Put on your walking shoes, bring your soft and high value treats and get started training your dog to be a pleasure walking!
©Dorice Stancher, MBA, CPDT-KA Canines Can Do, llc