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Teaching your dog to “play nice” with other dogs
MemberJanuary 20, 2021 at 11:12 AM
I recently adopted a 40 lb, 2 year dog 4 months ago, and she’s been really great. However, I’m working on her interaction with other dogs. She’s not aggressive but she has a very strong prey drive. And when it comes to other dogs, it turns into a very strong play drive. At first, I liked seeing her chase other dogs and play. But her play style turned into barking continuously at dogs that won’t play with her and using her paws to “punch” other dogs into playing. As you can imagine, a lot of dogs don’t like being barked at or punched. After she started to do this a couple times on bigger dogs (who have growled and chased her) and smaller dogs (who have consequently rolled over from her punches), I stopped letting her play with other dogs without a leash. I realized that she only plays like this when she’s very excited, and when I control her on-leash and she’s relaxed, she just sniffs and circles around other dogs. Also, when she is excited, all of our training is out the window so it’s a recipe for disaster.
Unfortunately, it feels like my restraining her from playing freely with other dogs has made her more and more dog-reactive. When she sees another dog, she started to pull harder on the leash than before. When she does get to the other dog, it’s just friendly sniffs and she’s on her way. So I know it’s not aggressive, but I feel like I’m “feeding” her dog reactivity by limiting her interaction with them.
I also wonder if this behavior a manifestation of her trying to exude dominance/confidence, because apparently she is very shy (but getting much better after the 5th visit) at doggy daycare. She was also a very shy/skittish dog at the shelter. It’s really weird to me to see her act completely different with other dogs, depending on whether I’m around or not.
Right now, I’m trying a bunch of different strategies, such as:
– avoiding dogs on the street
– working on recall / focus next to the dog park so she learns to pay attention to me, not the dogs
– rewarding her when she approaches dogs without pulling or interacts with dogs nicely (instead of punching and barking)
– leaving the situation if she starts becoming too excited
– e-collar training so I can work on her recall
Does anyone have similar experiences with dog reactivity and can either share tips or at least give me hope that one day, she’ll interact with other dogs with calmness and nice playfulness?!
MemberJanuary 20, 2021 at 6:05 PM
I would try to shorten this up and submit it to Robert via AMA form as he would provide the best guidance for this but I’ll pitch in my 2 cents.
It’s hard to understand why the reactivity would get worse without me seeing what exactly you are doing and how you are handling it. If her reactivity is increasing as she is not meeting dogs then she may just be trying to find a way to get you to let her see them. If she starts acting worse and you give in, then she learns that she just has to act out enough for you to let her go. I would keep working obedience and increasing your dogs attention to you in the presence of other dogs. You may need to work this at a distance and gradually get closer. Personally if this was my dog, she would not be meeting any other dogs. She doesn’t seem to have any real problems and contrary to popular belief, your dog doesn’t have to meet other dogs in order to be well socialized. My dog has never played with another dog with the exception of my other dog and he’s pretty neutral around other dogs. The same goes for Robert’s dogs too from my understanding.
Hope any of this helps you out, just be patient and consistent and you’ll be ok. 😁
MemberJanuary 20, 2021 at 6:08 PM
I forgot to mention that Robert has a vid called something along the lines of “good manners and meeting dogs.” He was helping a couple with their mini schnauzer, LJ, and he explains some of this. You might get a lot out of it
Thank you Logan!!! I agree with your tips.
MemberFebruary 8, 2021 at 6:10 AM
This is great advice and i feel what Robert would say too!!! I keep my dog out of dog parks and away from strange dogs. And he loves dogs and loves to play but also has a rough and tumble play style so I’m careful who I let him play with. My friends have dogs that love to play with him and can tolerate his style. But I do keep him on a light long line when playing and do correct and redirect him if it’s too much for the other dog. Usually I have to pull him over on trails and hikes because not everyone follows the no strange dog rule. If we are too close alot of the time people ask is he friendly as they walk their dog up to mine. So now I just give more distance and ask for a sit stay and then let’s go as soon as the dog passes. Easier on everyone and teaches Theo to be neutral and focus on me. It’s easy to correct for any excited jumping or lunging when he is already in a sit. But this isnt easy for all dogs I’ve been doing this consistently since he was 5 months
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