my dog doesn't like other dogs

My dog wants to be everyone's friend! 5 Ways to make walks easier

Edited and reprinted from positively.com with permission. This post hit the spot with thousands of readers when first published, so I thought you might enjoy it.

My Dog wants to be everyone’s friend! 5 ways to reduce frustration on walks | FREE EMAIL COURSE | Reactive dog, problem dog, fearful dog, dog behavior | #dogtraining, #reactivedog, #dogtraining, #growlydog | www.brilliantfamilydog.com


I’ve come across a few instances lately of people actually being pulled off their feet - and in one case rendered unconscious! - when their dog saw another dog approaching and decided he either wanted to play with it, or to dive forwards barking to make it go away.

Whether this poor behaviour is from a fear reaction or an over-friendly one, the upshot is much the same. Broken noses are no fun. So, unsurprisingly, the treatment is also similar.

I have given you some techniques in It's Not the Dog, It's You to help specifically with fearful dogs. A lot of that information is useful for absolutely any dog, including those who don’t appear fearful. 

So, keeping those methods in mind, let’s focus here on the super-friendly, over-ebullient dog who is determined to have a party with every dog or person he sees.

Picture the scene: owner is happily walking along the road, with dog on lead. Dog spots another dog! Hallelujah! Dog stands up on hind legs squealing with excitement before plunging forward with shrieks and barks towards the other dog.

It’s no use waiting till this is happening to try and change things. A knee-jerk response is not likely to do anything at all to help. Everything that needs to be changed has to be done beforehand, at home, in your kitchen, just you and your dog.

So let’s have a look now at what we can do to change this, before any more bones are broken.

1. What the Well-Dressed Dog is Wearing

If your dog is wearing a collar, then this is giving him terrific power to haul you along. Think where the collar goes on a horse in harness - right over the shoulders. Using the strongest part of a quadruped’s body - the rear legs and haunches - the horse or the dog can get great traction, to shift that heavy cart, or to pull you face down on the road.

Does your dog want to play with every dog he sees? Find out 5 ways to change this, for happier walks all round | FREE EMAIL COURSE | Reactive dog, problem dog, fearful dog, dog behavior | #dogtraining, #reactivedog, #dogtraining, #growlydog | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

When a dog is straining into a collar and tight lead, his body language is distorted. His eagerness can appear aggressive - this sends the wrong message to the object of his attentions.

The stress on the throat can also cause physical damage - and in the first place it'll serve only to wind your dog up more!

Pulling backwards against this power is fruitless. At best you’ll have an undignified retreat with you hauling your dog backwards, screaming. The dog will be screaming - but you may be too by this stage!

You need to teach your dog to respond to the lead, and turn of his own volition. Instead of a ten-ton block of frantic barking and scrabbling paws, you get a quizzical look from your dog as he turns and trots towards you. Really!

So the first move would be to investigate a no-pull harness. This is the one that I recommend.**  

One that attaches front and back will be the most effective. Good ones have an almost magical effect on even the most determined pullers. The harness needs to be comfortable to wear.

I would not use a headcollar for a “frustrated greeter” which is who we’re talking about here. If your dog is fighting to get the thing off his nose (most dogs hate them, unless slowly and carefully acclimatised) this is going to increase his level of frustration till he may possibly lash out (“redirect”) onto the nearest leg or hand. That would be your leg or hand. Ouch.

2. Loose Lead Walking, if taught well, is a trick

For your dog to walk close to you, keeping his nose level with your leg, he has to focus and concentrate. It’s not something that your dog will learn overnight - it runs counter to his natural desire to weave and run all over the place. 

The best force-free trainers make this exercise a game which the dog enjoys playing. Trying to frogmarch your dog along on a tight lead while yapping commands at him is not fun at all, for either of you!

The key is to have the lead loose, so that your dog can make a free choice where to walk. This may seem counter-intuitive to you, but it really does work very well when you’re in partnership with your dog as opposed to being his prison guard.

Once you have this skill, you can ask for this circus trick of trotting beside you, looking at you, when you need to distract your dog. If your history of rewarding him is great enough, he’ll be happy to oblige.

3. Impulse Control

We all have to learn impulse control. As children we have to learn to fit into society by containing our impulses and being able to wait patiently. This ability to delay gratification has been proven to be an indicator of a high achiever.

Your dog can be a high achiever too!

See Leave It! How to teach Amazing Impulse Control to your Brilliant Family Dog for a teaching method. Once he understands this skill, waiting politely should become his default behaviour - there’s no need to keep telling him to “leave it”.

And though the quickest way to teach this is with food, it isn’t just about leaving food. It’s about exercising self-control in the face of any temptation - bolting through the door, leaping out of the car, snatching something he wants ....

4. You Scratch My Back and I’ll Scratch Yours

If you do this for me, then I’ll do that for you, aka the Premack Principle. If, as a child, I demanded something I wanted, The Adult would say “What’s the magic word?” Asking for it again, but adding “please” this time, had the desired effect.

Your dog’s equivalent of the magic word can be a Sit, or Eye Contact, or just plain Silence! So when he starts agitating about something he wants, you can ask him “What do you think you should do now?” Wait for him to stop belly-aching and give you a sit, or look at you, or stop whingeing, then you can give him what he wants.

Don’t tell him what to do - let him work it out!

You probably already do this when you offer a treat - your dog may only get it if he sits. So extend it now - to everything your dog wants!

  • Your dog pulls towards the verge: “You want to sniff that grass?” Wait for a polite response then you can say, “Go sniff!”

  • He scrabbles at your knee: “You want to sit on my lap?” When he sits and gazes meaningfully at you, you can say “Hup!”

  • He wails with excitement when he sees a friend: “You want to say hello to this person?” When he gives you his attention for a moment you can say, “Go say hi!”

Before long, seeing the person or dog in the street will be a cue to your dog to focus on you to ask for permission to greet. You may or may not give this permission, of course, but you can certainly reward his polite asking.

5. Distance is Your Friend

Never forget Distance! If he’s unable to stop squealing and diving, get further away and ask him again: “You want to say hello to that person?”

How much further away? 20 yards? 40 yards? 100 yards? Whatever it takes! When he’s able to focus and engage in rational conversation with you, then maybe - just maybe - he’ll be able to hold it all together while he gets closer to the object of his desire.

He can’t? Then he doesn’t get any closer.

Get Frustration out of the Picture

You can see that these five suggestions have a common thread: giving control back to your dog.

I don’t want to spend the rest of my days trying to control my dogs (or my children): I want them to control themselves!

Nothing is as frustrating as feeling you are a helpless victim who is not heard or heeded. 

Empowering your dog by giving him strategies to get what he wants leads to a happy co-existence which you can both enjoy.

 

 

 

If your dog is fearful - and appears aggressive - rather than frustrated,

come along to our free 5-Day Video Mini-Course and blow your mind!
 

 

 

 


Resources

** Harnesses: 
www.goodfordogs.co.uk/products I supply the Wiggles Wags and Whiskers Freedom Harness in the UK and Europe. If you buy from me I will benefit, but you won’t pay any more!

2houndsdesign.com for the rest of the world.

Leave It! How to teach Amazing Impulse Control to your Brilliant Family Dog

Let’s Go! Enjoy Companionable Walks with your Brilliant Family Dog

It’s Not the Dog, It’s You!

Compliance depends upon consistency, not just marshmallows!

 

 


 

Free Live 5 Day Workshop for your *Growly* but Brilliant Family Dog

Reactive dog, dog afraid of tv, aggressive dog, fearful dog, dog behavior | How to enjoy watching animal programs on tv without your dog going ballistic! | FREE LIVE WORKSHOP | #aggressivedog, #reactivedog, #dogtraining, #growlydog, #fearfuldog | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

I can honestly say I’m blown away by the response to my invitation to a free Live 5 Day Workshop for your Growly but Brilliant Family Dog

Well over a thousand people have registered, and most of them are busy introducing themselves and making friends in the private forum.

I decided to offer this week of free training because I see so many people struggling with difficult dogs. They love their dog and they often have no idea why she’s acting so awkward when out and about.

This isn’t helped when it’s a rescue dog with little back-up from the people who homed the dog with them. If you’re new to owning a dog, a rescue dog with a traumatic past is not necessarily the best introduction to this exciting and privileged new world of interacting with another species! 

There is so much misinformation about - from describing the dog as “dominant”, “stubborn”, “obstinate”, or even “he’s doing it to annoy you”. There are many self-proclaimed experts about who say “he just needs to learn his place”, “you need to be harder on him”, or “you need to use this or that (nasty) gadget to get results,” showing you something that wouldn’t have found house-room in The Inquisition.

So don’t flounder about wondering who to listen to.

Listen to your own instincts.

If it’s suggested you do something nasty to the dog in your care - whom you love! - follow your heart and firmly say “No”. We don’t need to beat or punish our children, and we don’t need to do it to the animals we choose to give a home to either. 

But he does seem stubborn!

Want to know what your dog really thinks? He’s not stubborn - he’s afraid. Afraid to go forwards, afraid to incur your displeasure, afraid of the world. But it’s fear, not stubbornness. Or dominance, or any of that other nonsense put about by people who are talking through their hats.

This post may help you with all of that.

If you feel tempted to describe your dog in a negative way, try looking at it from another angle. Instead of labelling him as difficult, stubborn, whatever ... try fears, is anxious, worries ...

And you may be surprised to know that it’s not so much months of hands-on training that will change your shy, reactive, anxious, aggressive - growly - dog into the companion you want. A lot of it is in your own head!

Have a look at this recent email from a reader:

“Firstly thank you for your wonderful book, it has really helped me understand the reason why my little girl Bess reacts the way she does.

Just by reading your first growly dog book, I have realised that she is terrified of strangers. We are working on the steps and I am slowly seeing huge improvement.”

Now it was Bess’s owner who changed her view and got success. Bess didn’t have to change at all!

A simple change in your own outlook and behaviour can have marvellous results in the way your dog responds.

And that’s what people are learning in this Workshop!

As Karen said:

"One of the best things I have done, the workshop taught me so much."

How do I get in on this?

Come and join our free 5 Day Video Workshop and learn. There were well over a thousand people from all round the world already happily meeting, encouraging and enthusing each other in the private group. Friendships were made that will last. 

What do they have in common? A desire to make life with their difficult dog better without doing anything nasty. At all. They all understand how alone you can be, and people are already feeling less isolated with their dog.

While the Workshop is specifically geared for those of you with reactive, anxious, fearful, aggressive - Growly! - dogs, in fact anyone will learn a lot about how to build a relationship with their dog. And they’ll also have a lot more empathy for the Growly Dog owner who they may have disdained previously as being inadequate and unable to control their dog.

As you’ll discover, it’s not about control!

 

Head over to the registration page and join us! You can join in with all the lessons and video trainings from the original 5 Day Workshop!

 

 

 

He may be reactive but he’s still a dog

Reactive dog, aggressive dog, fearful dog, dog behavior | A reactive dog is still a dog! Don’t forget to train him just the same way as any other. The relationship will blossom and life will improve | FREE EMAIL COURSE | #aggressivedog, #reactivedog, #dogtraining, #growlydog | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

Got a reactive dog? One who barks and lunges at innocent passers-by; grows fangs and a forked tail at the sight of another dog in the same parish; or maybe just melts with fear at the sound of a bicycle? 

I feel for you!

I’ve been working with reactive dogs for years, and I have my own two Growlies too. So I know just what you’re up against. 

Fortunately more people are becoming aware of the issues, and that means slightly more people are beginning to understand that it’s not your fault! You’re not a terrible owner, and you haven’t got a horrible dog. He’s just not fitting in with the popular perception of what a pet should be.

But, as you’ll know, your difficult dog is the perfect pet at home. You know how friendly, biddable, loving, and fun your dog is - once the fears that dance around her when out are removed. You know how to soothe her, how to play with her, how to stimulate her great brain so that she loves to do things for you.

Your dog’s still a dog

And it can be hard to remember, when you’re out and about and dealing with her demons, that at heart that’s what she is. She’s a dog. Maybe not the dog you expected when you took her on. Not the dog you’d be able to go on group walks with, not the dog to compete in agility with, not the PAT therapy dog you’d planned - visiting the old and the sick and charming them all.  

[Actually there’s a good chance you could do the group walks … in time … and you can seek out agility teachers who understand and make the necessary arrangements for your dog to feel safe. PAT dog? Just maybe … in time.]

Get our free e-course to make instant changes in your growly dog!

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We can get so taken up with all the slightly different things we have to do with our troublesome pooch - like dodging into driveways, muzzle-training, learning sharp emergency turns, never being out without a supply of tasty treats - that we can overlook the basics. Building the bond with your dog is what it’s all about.

Building an unbreakable bond

I’ve noticed recently that a number of students in my plain vanilla dog training course (not geared for reactive dogs, in other words) are reporting - with surprise - that their dog is much less reactive when out, faster to settle, less likely to kick off at the dogs on tv.

Reactive dog, aggressive dog, fearful dog, dog behavior | A reactive dog is still a dog! Don’t forget to train him just the same way as any other. The relationship will blossom and life will improve | FREE EMAIL COURSE | #aggressivedog, #reactivedog, #dogtraining, #growlydog | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

Working through the course lessons has turned them and their dog into a TEAM. The old acronym Together Everyone Achieves More, is never more clear than when you’re working with your dog - especially a challenging one!

And it’s wonderful to see how things improve - not with lots of work outdoors in the thick of it - but by just playing some simple but cunningly devised games with your dog on a daily basis. You can see the change within the first few minutes of them being introduced to the game. “Suddenly,” thinks your dog, “this person understands me!” And you are left open-mouthed, wondering at the speed with which your dog has learned the new games, and how eager he is to play them anywhere, any place, any time.

As Sophie said: “We are doing the training every day, a few times a day. It’s doing wonders for us at home and we are using it on walks too!”

Just for Reactive, Aggressive, Fearful - Growly Dogs

This is why, when I’m working individually with a reactive dog, I teach them these relationship-building games right at the start. Regardless of what happens outside, I want the dog and owner to get these under their belt straight away. And it’s a delight to see an owner change from trying to command their dog all the time, to allowing the dog to express his own opinion and make his own (good) decisions.

See my last two posts for more on this:

Little things DO matter - for your dog everything matters
Once you remove the friction everyone is happier

Of course, the reactive dog owner does need strategies and techniques to improve their outside life, possibly opening up more possibilities in terms of where they can walk, and whether they can enjoy a cafe stop with their dog, like everybody else seems to be able to do. These learnings are vital to the success of the training. And I’ll be going into these in huge detail in my upcoming Growly Dog Course. It’s been tested out by the first group of students, and their suggestions and requests have changed the shape of the course so that it’s now everything they wanted.

That vital bond!

But none of this will work if the relationship is not there in the first place! It may be that you’ve been focussing so much on the trickier areas of your dog’s life that you’ve let slip this vital bond. I do understand how this can happen. You can try so hard to work on what’s going on outside - when a step back into harmony inside can have far-reaching results.

As one Growly Course student put it: “Your generosity in sharing techniques and ideas about dog training in general, which is also part of our growly dog puzzle, is helpful, and much appreciated.”

She got that it’s about all the other stuff in your dog’s life with you - not just the apparently difficult parts.

You can go and check out the training I’m talking about here:

 

And if you want to know more about how specifically to help your growly, reactive, fearful, or aggressive dog, check out the new, updated Growly Course.