Have you ever wondered what “exactly” could be the reason why does your dog bark, pull on the leash, lunge, growl, attack, shiver, whimper, shy away or is dying to play when faced with other dogs that he is not familiar with?
Here are all the reasons:
• You don't have the right timing, right technique, or the right training tool that can get your dog under your complete control. If a certain tool stops working or doesn't even seem to faze your dog anymore, try another one. Use what works!
• You never thought socializing your dog with other dogs was really important or even possible. So you kept putting it off and now you finally admit that this has become a serious issue!
• You have been avoiding any dog you came across by changing routes on your walks, or by walking your dog really late at night or super early in the morning.
• Your training foundation is weak or even worse, you have no foundation. Meaning, your dog doesn't even listen to you that well in private or in your home. So why would he all of sudden behave like a perfect angel around dogs that he doesn't know or doesn't feel comfortable with?
• Your dog USED to be friendly around dogs, but you slacked off on being involved on dog activities, daily walks, etc. And now, all of sudden your dog doesn't know exactly how to behave around dogs he hasn't met before.
• Your dog, or perhaps the other dog, isn't spayed/neutered and they are dying to get it on and prove themselves. Jealousy also causes dogs to act aggressive toward one another.
• Your dog whimpers to trick you into thinking that all it wants to do is play, and when you get close to the other dog, all of sudden it charges for the kill. Very sneaky!
• You keep on patting your dog in an attempt to calm her down and by saying, “It's OK. It's okaaaaaaay. Nooooo…seeeee…. It's a nice doggie.” But this doesn't send the right message. In fact by doing so, you are “encouraging” your dog to keep on acting aggressively. This might work on some humans, but it never works on dogs. So do not pat or keep on massaging your dog while she is constantly lunging and growling at other dogs. This translates to: “Go ahead. Kill 'em.” Even if you say “NO” in between, you are still not being crystal clear with your message.
• You misread your dog's or other dogs' body language. Sometimes when owners hold the leash tightly, this makes the dogs seem bigger, more tense, nervous, dominant and sometimes even a bit aggressive. Often you notice an owner's dog is completely relaxed, yet the owner acts scared and desperately tries to pull the dog close to her. This makes the dog appear taller, more tense, with his head up and chest out, which reads a very confrontational gesture to other dogs. So please don't wrap the leash around your hand three times by anticipating a dogfight.
• Your dog always lunges and attacks other dogs and doesn't really know how to behave. Like a barbarian, it's totally natural to him to act like a maniac. Basically your dog is thinking, “It doesn't really matter if the other dog is small, big, black, white, friendly or aggressive. I always lose it when I see other dogs. It's fun and it keeps me alive. I have that spice in me. Rrrrrruf!”
• You have a poor attitude and might even be prejudiced or scared of certain breeds. And guess what? Dogs never miss this and will try to protect you or at least try to scare the other dog. Maybe you hate certain breeds and your dog or the other dogs sense it from your energy, body language, or the fact that you totally changed direction, walked on the other side of the street, or picked up your small dog, hiding him from the rest of the world.
• Your dog never lost a dog fight in his entire life and always managed to scare, bully and lunge at dogs and actually get away with it. He probably sees himself as undefeated. The bigger the other dog, the more of a challenge; the bigger the fight, the better the pay per view.
• Your dog has been attacked by a dog in the past and got injured badly which resulted in him losing trust and confidence in you. You see, when you couldn't protect your dog from another dog attacking it, your poor dog had to find a way to protect himself. So now it anticipates another dog attack. This is why now he acts tough to scare the other dogs away. Can you blame him?
• Certain dogs provoke your dog more than others. See if you can find any pattern. Is your dog getting aggressive more toward males, females, puppies, adults, small dogs, black dogs, white dogs, fluffy dogs with floppy ears, pointy eared dogs, or even dogs that are not neutered. How about their owners? See if you notice any pattern with them. Some dogs love a challenge and prefer to fight the biggest dogs they can find. Some can't stand the small dogs' bark, and the fact that they are more spoiled than bigger dogs, and probably see them as Costco's appetizers.
• You've been letting your dog constantly mark on walks and thought it was normal and harmless. Now when your dog sees another dog in your neighborhood, he gets upset and tries to defend his territory. Just as your dog is overprotective of your house and your yard, he now thinks he owns the entire neighborhood just because he peed in every corner and every bush around it. How dare another dog walk in his hood!
• Something or even someone has irritated your dog, and now he decides to let it out on another dog. Be honest. Don't YOU pick on someone or at your loved ones when you aren't in a good mood? There you go. Your dog has learned it from you!
• Your dog is dying to play and interact with the other dog, but doesn't really know HOW. So he gets mad at you, mad at the other dog, at the leash, at your training tool and at the world! This could be a dog that once he manages to get loose, will lick the other dog to death to show his affection. Most dogs when they want to play, just pull on the leash, whimper, wag their tail happily, or maybe bark and whine in excitement. Not your dog. And it's really hard to know for sure exactly what he'll do, when he finally manages to get to the other dog. Will he play or go for the kill? And who's brave enough to find out?
• Your dog gets aggressive only when he is leashed. This might be another form of fear or frustration an attempt to keep the other dogs away. Or your dog notices that when he acts this way, you and the other dog owner walking another dog automatically pull back and don't let them get close to each other. Your dog knows that he can't do much while being leashed and his movements are limited. Therefore, it's much safer to act like a maniac. Basically each bark and growl translates to: “Let me go. Let me go, Mommy. I can take him. Let me show you what I can do. Let me put him on the news for you.”
• Your dog is using your “other” dog as a shield/back up and knows it gives her more power when they attack as a pack. These dogs may walk politely one-on-one, but never as a team.
Conclusion: One of the biggest mistakes dog owners make is that they automatically assume that if their pooch loves some dogs, that it will remain dog-friendly with all breeds of dogs for the rest of his life. The truth is, some will, but most WON'T. You must be able to get your dog's full attention around friendly dogs, aggressive dogs, hyper dogs, small dogs, big dogs, fluffy dogs, and male or female dogs.
It's like a serial killer. They rarely go on a killing spree of their friends or relatives. It's always the poor complete strangers.
Kevin Salem is considered one of the brightest minds in dog training and one of the pioneers in his field. Kevin offers Doggie Boot Camp or House Calls Nationwide. Try his book, hire him in person, or see him put his skills into action by visiting his award-winning web site: http://ww.DogSecrets.com.
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