Have you ever been out with your dog, enjoying a nice walk, when suddenly… your heart sinks and you’re filled with dread because you see another dog heading your way?
And why does that happen? Because you know that your wonderful but very dominant dog will cause problems by getting angry (or maybe even trying to fight) the other dog! How bad it gets is anyone’s guess.
The other dog’s still heading your way, and even though they’re on a leash you know it’s bad news if they got too close. So you start to look for your exit, but before you have a chance your dog has begun pulling with all its might. Their hair is starting to rise on their back.
You’ve been through this before and tried everything. You’ve pulled on their leash a million times, tried every dog collar available, brought food distractions on your walks, but nothing has worked.
Now, you just need to keep the dogs separated at all costs. You’re starting to feel helpless.
So where did it all go wrong?
Many dog owners and even trainers fail to understand one thing. If you are sending your dog the wrong signals at home, then your messages will have no effect when you’re out and run into another dog.
I mean this in only the best way, but dogs are very simple animals. They’re not just going to be interested in things like the latest smartphone or where to go on their next vacation.
What dogs do care about is survival. This is their first and foremost priority. They feel a need to protect the property and the pack, especially when they are outside.
Dogs are pack animals and have had it bred into them for thousands of years that in life there are leaders and there are followers. And it is the leader’s job to look out for danger and to protect the pack.
So, knowing this, what do you think is going to happen when you let them think that they are the pack leader and they’re walking down the street and see another dog heading their way?
You’re probably picturing it right now. They quickly head over with their head high, chest out, tail up, to try to get their other dog to back down. And who knows how bad it gets from there…
And this all could have been prevented
You have given your dog the message that they are in charge. That they are the pack leader in your home.
When you see a dog who has been properly trained out for a walk, they will not act dominant because they know that they are not the pack leader. And that means they can take it easy, so everyone’s happy and everyone wins!
Obviously, all dogs are going to be different. Some will naturally be more dominant, while others are naturally more submissive. But no matter what type of dog you have, one thing remains true:
You MUST be the leader of your pack. Once you have established this you will find all the training tricks you’ve tried and maybe failed to teach your dog suddenly begin to work.
It’s not that the approach you’ve been taking to training has been wrong, it was probably very good in fact. If you didn’t have an interest in proper dog training you wouldn’t be reading this, after all.
The problem up to this point is that you haven’t had the solid foundation of being seen as your dog’s pack leader. Without this, all the training methods and tricks in the world won’t work.
Once that has been done, here are some great tips that will make your walks a pleasure (but remember: you MUST be pack leader first!):
- Food distractions – This works great with a lot of dogs. They key is to only use it as a distraction. Do not give it to them after they have misbehaved by trying to get at other dogs. Choose something special, like chicken or cheese rather than their usual dog biscuits. Or get some tasty dog treats.
- Go slowly – Don’t expect massive changes to happen overnight. Be patient, and take things slowly.
- Be in control – Make sure you are in full control of your dog when another approaches. You may need to try a harness rather than a regular flat collar.
- Stay focused – Don’t let your dog suck you into their misbehavior. Stay firm and continue to show them how they need to behave.
- Be on guard – Hope for the best but be prepared to give a quick tug and guide your dog away if needed. Be sure to go back to being relaxed immediately afterward.
The thing that I love most about all of this is that it works with your dog’s natural instincts. It’s natural for one dog to be “over” another and you can’t take that out of them.
You can see it in action in the video below. Watch how as the two dogs play, one is being dominant and one is being submissive.
If you’d like to see more videos from this trainer, he’s got plenty more you can start watching right now by visiting his page here.
In closing, remember that your dog is only doing what’s natural to them when you haven’t made it clear to them that you are the one in charge. But by making yourself the unquestioned head of the pack, they will be much much less likely to be overly protective, tense, or dominant.
Make the changes now starting at home. Wait until you’re out on your next walk and another dog approaches and it will be too late.