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Getting dog to stay calm when sees other dogs on leash

1098 Views 3 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  MollyDoggy
I am attending a pet conference downtown next month and would love to be able to take Maddi with me, however she just gets too excited in this kind of situation. There will be lots of other dogs at this event, and when maddi sees a new dog she just gets so excited she pulls on leash, jumps, barks quite loudly, and runs all around. She just wants to play, but I don't know how to get the message across to her that when she is on leash it is not playtime. She walks like an angel when we're alone and is very food motivated.

Any training tips to help with this?
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Redirection. Distraction.
Redirect your dog to you when she gets distracted. Distract her with food while passing by dog.

Sees dog = food from owner = stops looking at dog and looks at you
I have a similar problem with my Boston- she LOVES other dogs and will lunge and jump towards them to try to say hi during our walk. Living in NYC, the sidewalks aren't that wide and if the other dog is not friendly it can easily become a big problem- especially when the other owner does nothing to move their dog over (ie, walking on a loose leash where dog can freely wander over to mine). We're working hard on a default heel/looking at me behavior whenever she sees another dog.

I've been making sure to always carry high value treats with me in a pocket or treat bag. When I see a dog coming towards us I grab a grab a handful in the hand not holding the leash. I start while they're still at a distance, asking for 'heel' and 'look at me' (both are commands we worked on in a less interesting environment first), I continue asking with increasing frequency as the dog gets closer. If I can tell she's not going to be able to contain herself (usually this is when the other dog is also excited or is aggressive) then I will move to the edge of the sidewalk and ask her to sit with her back to the other dog, facing me, and ask for a variety of the tricks she knows that involve her remaining in a sit/facing my way (touch in various positions, jump up to touch my fingers, paws, high five) and then ask for sustained eye contact as the other dog passes. If I think she can handle it I will just continue to ask for a 'heel' and 'look at me' command in my excited training voice until we pass. If she's successful she gets a jackpot (a bunch of treats vs just 1 or 2). I am a big proponent of setting a dog up for success- I usually move to the side instead of just continuing walking because this is still a new thing we're working on, and if I can tell she really wont be able to handle it I just let that teachable moment pass. We've been working on this for a week or so and she's showing good progress, but she does still get over excited and if there's multiple dogs all bets are off.

Also: an unfortunate addition to this training plan is my dog is no longer allowed to greet any dog she does not know on leash. Even if we aren't working on the behavior/commands because I know she won't be able to handle it she is not allowed to so much as touch noses with other dogs on leash.

Definitely work with her on this every day until the conference, and bringing her can be your goal, but I'd be surprised if she did a complete 180 in a month's time, though if she's a fast learner, super food motivated, and you're super dedicated to not letting any teachable moments pass she may be ready by then.
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This sounds a lot like my dog who I adopted recently. Here's what I've been doing.

First, never yell or or get excited when your dog gets excited. Try to stay calm as a cucumber. I taught my dog the "Watch me" cue in the house with little distractions, then gradually taught her this with more and more distractions. Another dog is a BIG distraction, so save this for later. In the mean time, just try to avoid getting too close to other dogs on walks.

When I see other dogs outside, I'm very careful not to get too close. You'll have to find the distance at which your dog gets excited to see where his limits are. Too close and you've lost him to the excitement of the other dog. Now, every time you see another dog, wait for that moment RIGHT when your dog looks over and cue "Watch me!" When your dog does this, have some really high value treats to reward him. Human food: my dog will do anything for hotdogs. If your dog looks over at the dog again, its ok, immediately give him the "Watch me!" cue again.

Your goal here is to train your dog to immediately look up at you and stay calm when he sees other dogs. Over time you'll be able to decrease the distance you are to other dogs before he starts reacting. The trick here is to catch your dog in the "watch me" before he starts barking in the first place.

I just started reading this book:

It goes over this topic in more detail and I love it. :) Good luck! I hope this was of some help.
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