You don’t have to live with the issue of a dog that doesn’t like others: dog training will remove it
Dogs that overreact when they come into contact with other dogs are a problem .
They not only are a handful to deal with but they can also get their owners into a lot of trouble.
Behaviourists and trainers report it is one of the most common issues with which theya re approached by worried owners.
The problem manifests itself in many ways. Your dog may seem to act uncomfortably around other dogs. He or she may just be defensive. But it can escalate right up to all-out fighting aggression. It is not uncommon for one dog to display all or some of these traits depending on the situation.
Is prevention is so much better than cure?
Prevention is obviously preferable to having to set out to completely cure the problem – which may not be possible anyway.
It is by far best to tackle the problem if it’s possible when our dogs are still puppies. This is when dogs need to be socialised with other dogs. If this is done properly your dog is more likely to grow up being calm, sociable and friendly.
But during this socialisation phase you also need to teach your dog to ignore strange dogs and listen to you instead.
Time is most definitely of the essence
With some breeds the socialisation period is the first 14 weeks. Unfortunately too many new owners have little – if any – idea how essential this period is.
You also need to understand your dog to spot how often you put your pet in a situation where he or she can learn to react to others. You need to recognise and accept that most aggressive behaviours grow out of anxiety and fear.
What too few dog owners realise is that dogs on leads that approach each other face to face are considered to be acting in a very rude way in dog language.
Conflict or survive: Fight or flight
Your dog’s natural instinct is to prepare himself or herself to avoid conflict and survive. It is what triggers their inbuilt fight or flight response.
For some the first option is to flee. For others it is to fight. You need to recognise any problem before it occurs to help your dog feel comfortable and secure in these situations.
One way of doing this is for you to teach your dog to ‘look at me’, so the dog watches you when he or she is passing the other dogs. It reinforces this training if you give your dog a treat when he or she ignores the others.
Another method is to try to avoid any situations where your dog has to pass a strange dog. You need to always be aware of any situations that cause your dog to feel insecure and uncomfortable.
This removes the need for the dog to deal with the situation by him or herself.
If your dog already has issues with other dogs, your first job is to prevent him or her being able to practise bad behaviour. If this is allowed it will simply reinforce it.
Unfortunately, to do this you may require to use a head collar or harness, so that your dog is not allowed off-lead around other dogs while you are working on improving his or her obedience. The next step is to identify a good behaviour training course to help you iron out this very concerning issue.