"Don't worry he's friendly" are my favorite words as a heavy breathing, lunging, pulling, tongue hangin out, eyes buggin, dog drags his owner towards me. I usually yell "My Dogs Arent!" as I make a u-turn. Letting a dog greet a stranger like this is the equivalent of me seeing a person (a stranger) and running across the parking lot to bear hug him jumping up an down while yelling "I just want to say hello!" Not really an appropriate greeting for someone I have never met before... Dogs have appropriate greeting rituals just like we say nice to meet you and shake hands. Inappropriate greetings-even committed with a heart of gold-can be met with a serious put you in your place snarl.
Going out to fun activities with your pup require you both to walk through crowds of people and dogs. If your dog can’t look at another dog without pulling towards it or lunging and barking then you should not go where other dogs will be close (EXCEPT TRAINING CLASS) until you can get the dog to work with you and react calmly to other distractions.
1. Start with attention. You cannot play the “attention game “ enough! This is your default behavior for your dog so you don’t have to watch them like a hawk. Start easy by playing in your kitchen then move to harder areas like the front porch . Reward any attention the dog gives you on it's own. If you are using a clicker then click for eyes on you and drop a treat. You need to wait for the behavior to be offered so you can train a default check in and you can get away from micromanaging your dog.
2. Put this game in motion and add distractions. Start easy by putting toys down on the floor in your house. Then make it harder by walking past plates of food or toddlers with hotdogs...
3. Take it on the road. Practice going places where you will see other dogs and people in close proximity. Start easy and warm up in the parking lot before you walk through the doors of the pet store. If your dog can't work with you under close quarters with other dogs back up and create more space. With more practice you can pass by fairly close.
Community Event Coming up: September 24th ,2011 Dog Fest at Chesterfield Family Center.
Coming up next time-getting your dog to settle while you enjoy an outdoor café….