If your pup lunges: If your dog is going after something while on a walk — another dog, a car, a skateboarder, for example, be proactive. Try to redirect his attention with a treat before he has a chance to lunge, and increase the space between your dog and the target. Stay alert and be prepared before the target of his frustration gets too close. This type of behavior may be more common in herding breeds, but any dog can be startled by something he’s not used to or finds exciting.
Since that article ran in June, three dogs who have graduated from my Growly Dog class have been attacked by off-leash dogs. My clients work hard to calm their dog’s anxiety when they see other dogs (which often stems from being attacked the very first time by a rude, off-leash dog!). We help these over-anxious dogs learn to trust their handler, and we rebuild their faith that they can walk safely in their own neighborhood. We make significant progress in keeping these dogs calm and focused on their owners instead of hyper-vigilantly scanning for dangers . . . such as an off-leash dog. In some of these cases, the unleashed dog owner was held responsible and now must pay fines in addition to medical bills; one of my clients ended up having an $8,000 hand surgery after breaking up a dog fight. I have enough stories like that to fill up a very long, pathetic book.
In Connecticut, dogs are not permitted to run at large except in the situation of hunting. Still, if the dog has vicious propensities and the owner still allows it to run at large and a person is bitten, the owner can be fined for up to $1,000 and is also liable for 6 months of prison unless the victim has abused the dog and provoked the harmful behavior.
Take it outside. Finally, you’re ready to test your puppy’s skills in the Great Outdoors. There will be new challenges with this step because all the sounds, smells, and sights your puppy encounters will be intriguing and new to him. Be patient and keep the first walks short. While you’re on a walk, if your puppy looks as if he’s about to lunge toward something or is about to get distracted (you’ll notice this because you will keep your eyes on him at all times), make your cue sound and move a few steps away. Then reward him with a treat for following you.
If you’re looking for a leash that’s easy on the wallet, safe and durable, the Blueberry classic leash is a great choice. We love that it comes in 12 different colors and five sizes (ranging from four to five feet in various widths) so that it can work with nearly any dog. If your dog is easy on the leash and doesn’t require a lot of control or guidance, a standard nylon leash will do the job. We recommend this leash for dogs 75 lbs and under, as larger pups may need a stronger version.
Throw a meat treat in the direction of the oncoming dog, turn on your heels, and walk away. I cannot even count the number of dog owners who are shocked that as their dog is being harassed by the off-leash dog, the owner of stands there, saying nothing, and doesn’t help to put an end to the situation. If another person is walking with you, ask them to attempt to catch the oncoming dog as you leave the scene (you have to decide in an instant if that would be a safe maneuver or not because breaking up a dog fight is an excellent way to get bitten).
About the author: Annie Phenix, CPDT-KA, is a force-free professional dog trainer enjoying her mountain-filled life in Colorado. She is a member of the Pet Professional Guild and the National Association of Canine Scent Work. She takes her highly trained dogs with them everywhere dogs are welcome because of their exceptionally good manners. Join Annie on her dog-training Facebook page.
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