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We have a 5 month old puppy (lab/hound/jack russell terrier mix) that we adopted two months ago. Almost every time that she sees a dog while on leash she starts either pulling towards them and/or barking. Through her multiple interactions with other dogs and at the dog park, its is clear to us that she is not afraid of the other dogs and wants to play with the dogs. The times that she doesn't bark and says "hi" to other dogs on leash, if the other dog does not want to play with her she starts barking at them as well. We have tried multiple things like giving her treats and than taking them away once she starts getting focused on a dog and particularly if she starts barking at them but the problem has not improved. We also try to not allow her to interact with the dog is she starts barking in order to not reinforce this behavior. Additionally, we live in an apartment complex with tons of dogs which are generally well behaved and do not bark at all when they see other dogs and we feel that it is highly off putting to the dogs and other owners when she starts barking. Given the amount of dogs in our complex, it is almost impossible to avoid other dogs when taking her out. She rarely barks otherwise... Please help!
 

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Meanwhile socializing is very important, to get them used to other dogs, it’s also important that they know not to care about other dogs in general. If she’s been exposed to a lot of dogs and always been encouraged to interact and play with them, it’s not strange that she expects to play with every dog she sees. What you want her to do is to stop caring about, or reacting to, other dogs. And this can be accomplished in different ways.

One way is to be more interesting than the dog she sees. Is she toy motivated? If so, you could try and bring out her favorite toy whenever there’s a dog around, to get her interested in something else. You can also do the same thing if your dog is food motivated, make her interested in some treats, throw some on the ground for her to find. What’s important is that you try this at a distance were she haven’t reacted yet. For some dog this could be 100 m and for another 5 m. So find a good distance for your dog. Then by time you decrease the distance.

But this won’t work for every dog and this is also causing more excitement, so if you want a calmer way, you could teach a “sit” or “look at me”. Then you practice this in a distance that she’s okay with and gradually decrease the distance. If she starts reacting, you’re too close to the other dog.

One other thing that would be good to do in any case is to desensitize other dogs. Let her be in a place where there’s other dogs and let her get used to being around other dogs without caring about them or interacting. You need to take away the anticipation that seeing a dog means playtime. In this method distance and building it up gradually is also important. Teach her to be calm and train passivity around other dogs.

Overexcitement can also be due to under/over stimulation. How do you exercise and train her?

I’m sorry if this doesn’t make much sense, I’m a bit tired and I feel like I’m just rambling. Feel free to ask if I haven’t been clear enough.
 

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Thank you so much for your help! We have tried a few of the methods that you mentioned including using toys and high value treats to distract. These methods tend to work when the distance is rather large between her and the other dog. I think one of the main issues is that even though we try these methods at a distance and we have a good training session with her... once we get back to our apartment complex, a dog will come out of a nowhere and she starts barking at it. We been doing these methods now for about two months and she is improving but we haven't gotten her to improve with her interactions with the dogs in our apartment complex. For whatever reason, it just seems like a set back when this happens even after we've had a good walk with her. I wish I didn't feel that way. With the pandemic, we see less dogs now in our complex, but it still happens a few times a day. I'm curious if you have any recommendations for these inevitable close encounters with other dogs...

Regarding your question of exercise and training for her... We predominantly have been exercising her with walks. We do at two one to two hour walks per day; one around noon time and one before dinner time. Inside our place, we play fetch with her to help exercise her as well. On weekends, we usually do longer walks (2 hour plus) and take her to the dog park so that she can socialize with other dogs off leash. We have been doing short training session with her throughout the day, particularly during walks and around her meal-time. Once the pandemic ends, we are planning to have her go back to training classes.
 

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Have you tried to desensitize her to be around other dogs? Like I said before you need to take away the anticipation that is connected to other dogs. I had a quite similar issue with one dog and one part of the training was to simply sit down on a bench and do nothing. I sat at a bench with her for maybe 40 min while other dog passed by from time to time. The goal is that the dog should get used to seeing other dogs without reacting. To be passive.

Do you have to take her to the dog park? While training this I’m afraid that taking her to the dog park only will reinforce the anticipation that a dog means playtime. You want to avoid that. Seeing a random dog should not be equivalent with playtime. Is it possible to get her a couple of specific playmates, so not every random dog has to be a possible playmate for her? Socialization is not just about letting her interacting with other dogs, it’s also about her being comfortable and careless of being around other dogs. For instance, in this case it would be better to train socialization outside the dog park. To take her to the dog park and just sit outside, for her to get used to being around other dogs without playing with them. To simply stop caring about them. However, this might be a too big step to take as for now. But generally you want to avoid anything that will reinforce her to make the association between a dog and playtime.
 
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