You’re out with your well behaved, socially trained, lovely dog having a good time and you come across another dog with their owner. The dog sees you and your dog and starts barking uncontrollably, lunging, teeth bared and growling. What do you do in this sidewalk encounter? How do you face such a situation and make sure your dog never does such a thing? We might just have some valuable information for you in that regard.
The first thing that you should realise about this is that most dogs who give such a reaction upon seeing other dogs during, sidewalk encounters or anywhere else, are doing this out of fear or frustration. Such behaviour is usually borne out of the fact that they might not have had the proper social development during the puppy stage, some may also have this problem due to some biological component that influences fear or it may be the cause of some traumatic incident such as being attacked by another dog.
Frustrated and fearful dogs are usually very chipper and happy when off leash, and may have developed such habits because of their owners shortening their leash around other dogs, being pulled away from other dogs or simply being frustrated by being leashed. You’d might want to think of these dogs like they’re small babies having a meltdown and reacting the only way they know how!
Dogs rely on loud and dramatic displays to try to influence the approaching dog to move away. These are termed “distance increasing signals” and may include obvious signals such as the barking, growling and lunging described above. They may also include more subtle signs, such as:
- “Flagging” Tail (carrying the tail up and over their back, may be accompanied by slight wags)
- Piloerection (hair raised along their spine)
- Forward bent pricked ears
- Hard, fixated stare.
Whenever you spot such instances of behaviour as mentioned above, it’s always wise, for your dog as well as the approaching dog, to move away. Ignoring such instances might lead to escalation in their aggressive reactions. Experiencing such situations can actually be traumatic and scary for your dog and influence them to partake in such behaviour to keep other dogs away from them!
Call out your dog’s name to prevent them from making eye contact with the other dog, direct eye contact whether its dog-dog or human-dog can be very intimidating for the dog on the receiving end of it. Prevention of eye contact can help not to escalate aggressive dog behaviour. You can also practice making U-turns with your dog in case you come across a reactive dog.
Often, owners of reactive dogs will be working with their dog on walks, trying to minimize their aggressive outbursts during such sidewalk encounters. In this case, you’ll usually see the owner feeding their dog treats while you walk by with your dog. This helps their dog associate your dog with things he really likes, and will over time help decrease their dog’s fear or frustration caused by seeing your dog. Make sure to give this dog lots of space! Close and/or extended contact will likely still trigger a reaction in this dog.
In some instances, you’ll find dogs who are further ahead in their training and won’t react unless you get into close proximity to them. It’s always better to ask the other pet-parent if their dog is friendly and it’s okay to say hello or not.
At Dogge Discussion and Dapper Dogge, we want what’s best for your dogs and you! Follow these activites or methods to have safer and fun filled sidewalk encounters!
For more useful information about dog behaviour and important tips to help them lead a healthy and happy life, keep reading Dogge Discussion!