As dog owners we want our dogs to hang around other dogs in a fun and safe environment. You may not have control over the other dogs in the park but care you can have more guidance over your own. There are seven methods that you could use to calm your dog if they get overly excited or even aggressive (because they are nervous) around other dogs.
Method 1- Basics
When it comes to methods and training you should always start with the basics which are listening and obeying you, their owner. Make sure that your dog knows the commands of ‘stay’, ‘sit’, ‘down’ and ‘heel’ and that they can hold those commands for a while.
Method 2- Flooding
This method is mostly used for the more aggressive type of dogs and the theory behind ‘Flooding’ is that your dog gets exposes to a lot of dogs so that they can get used to their company (for the over-excited dog to show that it is not a rare occurrence). However, you may need to get a breathable muzzle for the aggressive dog so they do not bite someone. But, this method could stress out your dog a lot.
Method 3- Stay Calm to Reach the Goal
This method is used for over-excited dogs and it may take some time for it to take full effect. If you are going to do this method then you would need help from a friend who has a calm dog. You will organize to meet somewhere with your friend, their dog and your dog. When you come to the meeting spot and you see your friend and their dog a few meters away ask them to stop walking and then tell your dog to sit and stay. Once your dog is calm ask your friend to bring their dog closer. If your dog starts to get excited ask your friend turn around and take their dog back. You will need to do this for a few days until your dog learns that if they are still and calm, they will get to play with the other dog but if they are excited then the other dog will not come any closer to them.
Method 4- Sit and Stay/ Down
You will be required to train your dog to listen to the commands of ‘sit’, ‘stay’ and ‘down’ on and off the leash. Once they have learned these commands you will need the help of a friend’s dog. When they come make sure that your dog is on a lease. Command your dog to ‘sit’, ‘stay’, ‘down’ and pull them to the side (not back) to give them more direction. When your dog is calm and obeying the commands while another dog is there then you should give them a treat. Repeat this process for a few weeks with different types of dogs visiting them. And once they are used to this you may reward them further by letting them meet the other dogs.
Method 5- ‘Get It’ Game
This method will require a lot of tasty treats and it starts at home. You place a treat in front of your dog’s nose and you begin training them to only eat the treat when you say ‘get it’. Once they understand this you then drop the treats behind you, tell them to ‘get it’ so that they would have to go behind to look for the treats. Make sure that their lease is loose. Once they have conquered this step you can move outside to a more distracting area and play the game while on a walk. When you spot the other dog, begin the game. This is done so that your dog would pay more attention to the game than the other dog. Plus, you would end up standing between them as another barrier for your dog. This would work for the over-excited dog and may even work for the aggressive ones. Play this game for a few weeks slowly moving closer and closer to other dogs so that your dog learns to put their excitement into the treat (without the command) whenever they see another dog.
Method 6- Classical Conditioning
Classical Conditioning may take longer to take effect than ‘Flooding’ but the results are longer lasting. This is mostly used for aggressive dogs and it is a way to teach them to have a positive experience when seeing other dogs hence letting them calm down. It is done by giving your dog a delicious and uncommon treat whenever another dog enters their space. You would have to do this as often as possible so that the positive connection is made as soon and strong as possible.
Method 7- Talk to Them
This would be the simplest method for the aggressive kind and all you would need to do is to comfort your dog. When another dog comes into an equation tell your dog to ‘sit’ or ‘down’ and lean down to block their view of the other dog and just show them comfort that nothing bad will happen. This is done to make them less nervous around other dogs.
You would like your dog to get along with others and not to be too excited that they run off and end up on a lost dog website or to be aggressive and they would be seen as a danger and to be put down.