Greeting Other Dogs on the Trail

Dogs hiking in GNRA in Pacifica
When your dog barks at other dogs you pass on the trail, he may be giving the other dog an invitation to play. Dogs are social creatures; and since so many of them live in one-dog households, the chance to interact with other dogs is very exciting. Some dogs bark to say, “Hey, I want to meet or play with you. NOW! NOW! NOW!” Puppy barking frequently falls into this category. These barks are generally high pitched, and are often accompanied by wagging “propeller tails,” loose or wiggly body language, play bows and jumping. Ask those dog owners who would like to interact with your dog to wait for calm, quiet behavior from your dog before greeting to avoid reinforcing the behavior. If your dog strains at the leash when you pass other dogs and barks non-stop at the dog, you are probably pulling the leash taut and transferring your tension, stress and fear down the leash to the dog. Now the dog feels he is the pack leader and has to defend both of you. The barking ramps up even more; and soon you find yourself dreading walking or meeting other dogs. A dog who knows you are the pack leader and who walks beside you- not in front will be less likely to have fear or defensive barking at other dogs. You need to train your dog to look at you with the “watch me” command to distract your dog as you approach another dog. First encounters with a friendly dog should just be “walk-bys” several times with the emphasis on getting your dog to look at you and away from the other dog with a treat lure and sounds. Once you consistently have your dog’s attention, you can advance to having your dog sit quietly at your side as the dog passes. After this stage you can allow your dog to sniff and greet the other dog while keeping the leash loose.

Enjoy a well-mannered dog that is an asset to your family. Invest in training to transform your dog into the best friend you have always wanted. Call Jean Cary for an evaluation and a customized training program for your dog. (650) 593-9622.

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