Mike's Q&A

An interactive question and answer forum with expert dog trainer Michael Wombacher for all of your most pressing dog behavior and dog training-related questions.

Leash Frustration - How to Train Your Dog

Q: Hi, Mike...My Standard Schnauzer, who took 2 of your puppy classes is now 18 months old and doing well. She seems happy and well adjusted and we can typically take her anywhere we go. Overall, she's well behaved when we're out and she LOVES people and other dogs, too. Goes to Doggie Day Care once or twice a week for socialization and gets plenty of exercise on a daily basis. My question is that she sometimes gets aggressive when I'm walking her. She gets worked up and barks like crazy at the poor pooch who's coming towards her. Next dog that comes by, she's fine! Have tried to figure out a pattern, but there doesn't seem to be one. I go back and forth between reprimanding and praising...any suggestions? Other than that...she's perfect and such a joy!...thanks.

 

A: There are a lot of factors at work contributing to this situation. The first thing to do is to make sure that she does not pull on the leash when she sees another dog. Leash frustration is the most common contributor to on leash dog aggression. Also, from your question it isn’t clear if your dog is being aggressive or just excited to see the other dog. These require quite different responses. The main thing they have in common is that you have to get your dog’s attention on you. If you are using an effective training collar a relatively easy way to do this is while you are approaching the other dog, when your dog starts getting worked up, without warning him suddenly turn away from him and march in the opposite direction. If your dog isn’t paying attention he’ll get s quick pop on the leash and turn around to see what happened to you. If that’s not the result you’re getting you might consider changing training equipment. Once your dog is checking in with you you can offer a really good treat. Turn around and start walking toward the other dog again. Keep your dog focused on the treats as you pass the other dog. If, at any point, he starts acting up again, repeat. That is, blast off without warning in the opposite direction again and start over. Tedious but often effective. If there’s aggression involved you might need some professional help.