Author - Junior Watson

Q&A: Help! My puppy doesn’t like his collar?

Hello, we have a chihuahua puppy (4months) that we just got from the breeder. We put a collar on the dog and he is really reacting very negatively to the collar. We had the dog for about 2 weeks before we got the collar. Our mistake for sure. But during that 2 weeks the dog was very happy, playful, engaging, just a good dog. But we have to get a collar on him in order to train him and be able to keep him from running off as he is getting more and more adventurous. So now the dog is really acting like he is being tortured. He will not walk around now he just lays in his bed or under a chair. He is whining and acting like the collar is hurting him. We have checked and it is not too tight and there should be no reason why it would be hurting him. Its only been about 24 hours but this reaction seems extreme so I wanted to reach out. We are thinking to just leave it on him and he will eventually get over it but again since his reaction is so extreme we wanted to make sure we are doing the right thing. Thank you.~Gary

Hi Gary, I wouldn’t use a collar with a Chihuahua, or any other breed that size, due to their delicate body and potential for injury. My first bit of advice- consider investing in a harness for the wee one (pay close attention that it doesn’t apply pressure to the trachea). A good, effective harness for a dog that size shouldn’t run you much more than a standard collar would anyway, so cost really shouldn’t be a problem. He may not want to wear it at first regardless, so be prepared for at least a little bit of drama.

If your dog has gone this far without wearing a collar/harness, there is a good chance he simply won’t like the way it feels.

Now that that is out of the way, my next stop (if this unusually avoidant and skittish behavior continues) would be a basic veterinary check up, just to make sure there is no injury anywhere. In fact, I would highly advise you take him to see a veterinarian if you haven’t already, just to make sure he is in good medical condition. That should be one of the very first stops for any adoption.
Did you also get vaccination and registry paperwork from the breeder? Were you able to check on the medical history of his parents, or did the breeder not tell you? This is always important information to have, especially if you buy a dog you haven’t actually seen in person. Ignore this advice if you’ve already done all that!

On the training side, try looking into counterconditioning. Pair the collar (preferably harness) with praise, a cheerful attitude on your part, and treats every time you put it on him. Always present a confident and happy persona, avoiding any overly worried or anxious feelings (or at least don’t let him know you feel that way). Dogs often judge situations based on our reactions; you don’t want him to think you are insecure.

If this is your first dog, or/and you have little experience raising a puppy, don’t be afraid to read up on the breed, socialization training, and anything else you might have questions about. Chihuahuas are notorious for developing poor social skills, so be sure to get right out in front of that while he is still a puppy. Again, if you’ve already done this, go ahead and ignore that bit.

Q&A: Older dog not getting along with puppy – Segregate or not?

I’m not a trainer and have raised (successfully) many well adjusted rescues, some with serious baggage. My latest is guarding his kennel, inside and out. He’s 4 months (hound mix). He’s not aggressive, but his body language shows he could become so about it. I know the normal answers, keep the other dogs away from it, positive rewards w/ other dogs present, etc. I have one male (3yr old Cur) who constantly is pushing the puppy by going up to the kennel (smells the residual treats of course). I’ve always kept my pups in a kennel in my room where the older dogs tend to like to stay too. Keep the pup with the “pack”. I’m now thinking in this particular situation (with two younger dogs, in the past it’s been much older dogs with a pup) I should put the crate in another room behind closed doors during the day while at work?? I just don’t like segregating him. but I have a feeling they’re harassing each other during the day. They get along fine as these things go 90% of the time. I’ve only had the pup for three weeks (the other two dogs are still adjusting of course) and he has some fear based mannerisms we’re conquering, but he’ll be good, nothing major. The two in question are both hounds and by nature can be possessive. Segregate or not? What’s the worse thing can happen if that pup spend 6 hours a day 5 days a week in a room all by himself? ~Reggan

Hello! I think I can help you with your hound mix!

He’s still young and developing at 4 months, which is great! An older dog may be harder to work with, but this shouldn’t give you too many problems at all, as long as you’re patient. Let me break this down a bit:

-He’s showing possibly aggressive (defensive?) body language.
-You’re not sure what activity takes place during the day while you are gone.
-Do you know how their lives were prior to your adoption?

< div>I know you’ve heard this answer before, but I would use rewards and praise when other animals (or people) are around the crate, to reduce the guarding behavior. You want to teach your pup that it’s ok when other animals/people are around, they don’t mean to harm him and he’s safe. Be consistent with this, and eventually he will want you to be around. Incorporate praise as well as treats. Reward them both for being around each other. Turn it into a fun ‘game’ if you can.

I am going to go ahead and assume you have a pretty good amount of experience with socializing dogs, and the importance of socializing at a young age, since you’ve taken care of many. I’m also guessing by ‘kennel’ you mean a large crate and not a kennel type enclosure?

Though some may disagree with me, isolating your puppy for six hours a day is absolutely fine as long as you work on socialization activities and offer play/exercise when you are home. You’ll want to work up to this point to avoid any anxiety behaviors from developing (separation anxiety probably being the ‘worst’ case scenario). If you have very little time for training due to work, try to begin on a Friday and work throughout the weekend.

Keep in mind, ideally it would take more than 3 days to get your pup feeling comfortable with extended durations of isolation. At four months, he likely won’t be able to hold his bladder all day; try not to exceed six hours (should be your maximum at this point). The American Kennel Club offers several articles on crate training, only a click away- if you need extra sources.

If you aren’t sure how the larger dogs treat the smaller one while you are away, body language will usually help. Does the smaller one show any signs of submission or anxiety when the larger ones are around? Ears back? Tail tucked? Crouching? Shivering? Or is he completely happy and playful?

Once you have this guarding behavior taken care of, you shouldn’t need to isolate them. You can also consider setting up a small camera for observation purposes, if cost isn’t an obstacle.

Q&A: Help! Crate potty training issues.

Hi! We adopted a Beagle mix puppy when she was 5 weeks old. She is almost 6 months old now. We are really struggling with her going to the bathroom in the house. We did not crate her during the day when she was little because we live 30+ minutes from our offices and we did not think she could hold it several hours and certainly not all day. I kept her confined to our bathroom (which is big) with puppy pads, toys, water, etc. When she was big enough to stay outside with our older dog, she started doing that. Now the two of them stay out all day until we get home from work. She is only crated at night while we sleep. My question is, is it too late to house train her at this point if she’s still going in the house? It’s causing quite a bit of consternation. We try to keep rooms closed off but if they’re open at all during home time, she finds a way to pee or poop on our bedroom carpets.

If crate training is the recommendation, how long should she be left in it at the time? And how long will we have to do this? I feel so badly for dogs that are in crates all day and all night! Hopefully it won’t take too long, but I’ve got to get her trained even if it means my husband and I alternating coming home for lunch every day indefinitely.

We also have a big biting problem, which worries me for my small children, but I’m going to try obedience training for that. We do have chew toys, bones, and all the recommended things. Hoping its a phase she grows out of … ~Aubrey

Hello Aubrey!

I think I can help you with your beagle! It seems like you have two separate problems, so let me address both.

First, I want to touch on this biting issue, because that can potentially become a much bigger problem. This seems like much more of a behavioral concern, one that simple obedience training (by definition is meant to teach a dog to obey commands, such as sit, stay, recall, etc.) probably won’t actually help you with. Not all dog trainers have much actual behavioral experience, and even fewer yet are college accredited behaviorists (which is who I would suggest reaching out to).

Depending on the severity of this ‘biting problem’, I urge you to contact an accredited animal behaviorist and not rely on simple obedience training- both for the safety of your Beagle, and others who live with you, especially small children who may not understand boundaries. Remember, dogs aren’t people, and shouldn’t be expected to act like people.

If you would like to offer more details surrounding the issue, I would be glad to offer what help I can!

Potty Training
No, you don’t need to crate train your dog, although it is helpful and recommended. It is certainly not too late to potty train!

I like to recommend reward based positive reinforcement methods.

Create a regular potty schedule, and stick to it.
Accompany your Beagle outside when it is potty time, and reward with enthusiastic praise + a possible treat reward EVERY TIME she potties outside. Don’t miss one, or she may confuse the idea and your training will take longer. You are trying to get her to form the association ‘Potty outside makes mother/father happy, and that is good for me.’ In her little Beagle mind. (:

Punishment isn’t necessary, even discouraged; you want your girl to enjoy the training process and not fear it.

Don’t reward mistakes indoors, or acknowledge with an apologetic tone. Eventually she will learn ‘I get nothing if I go indoors, but rewarded if I go outside’.

It is helpful if she is leashed by someone’s side at all times when she isn’t created (which is one reason crate training is useful). If she is leashed by your side, you’ll be able to catch every single mistake, correct it by running her outside to the desired spot, and speed up her training.

Dogs will prefer not to eliminate in confined spaces (a bathroom is too much space), or where they sleep, which is one reason crate training is recommended for potty training. I’m going to skip the actual training process because it is an ordeal in itself, but will leave links to specific training articles if you need. The majority of potty training articles, or trainers, will recommend crate training initially.

At six months, most dogs can hold their bladders around 4-6 hours, which is the standard recommended time frame here. Thankfully, she has grown and won’t need to go every two hours!

A standard eight hour work day is probably too much to ask. For proper crate training to work smoothly, and to avoid any complications like separation anxiety, you’ll have to gradually work up to an extended time period anyway (as you’ll see if you read the article below). I understand this isn’t always possible, so consider starting training on a Friday and continuing throughout the weekend.

HSUS Article on crate training

I hope I was able to help! If you still have questions regarding potty training, the AKC has a fantastic article on the subject.

AKC Potty Training

Q&A: Help, my dog doesn’t like his leash!

We have a labradoodle puppy who is 4 months old, we have had him for a month. He has been sweet, house trained well and has learned the basics of sit, get down and shake. In the last week however, he has become unbearable almost 🙁 He has began to show signs of aggression in that he barks at me in frustration and has begun to bite at me and the leash as I try to take him out to potty, even biting me with those razor sharp puppy teeth several times as he jumps to get the leash out of my hand. Any advice would be greatly appreciated as I don’t want these behaviors to continue” -Melissa

Hi there Melissa.
The first thing to do if you haven’t already, is to get into a puppy class. It sounds like you have some training already and that will put you ahead of the game.

Next, The puppy needs to learn that the leash means good things. Positive Association. So to do that, use a “high value” treat when you put him on the leash. Every time. You should only use the high value treat when the leash gets put on. To use it at any other time lowers the “value” of the treat. Its not so special if they get it all the time.

Here’s the idea. We’ll use bacon as the high value treat, but it can be anything as long as the dog will go nutty for it,.

I love bacon + the leash = I get bacon when the leash is near = I love the leash.

That’s the principle.

Also, leave the leash on for a while after he comes inside for a while, and before he goes out. This way he gets used to relaxing when he is on the leash. This way he wont build any anxiety towards it.

Make an effort to make the entire experience as positive as possible. Lots of praise.

I would suggest putting the leash on him, using the high-value treat, and then just walking away (while inside, go do something else for a few minutes and then take him outside). Give him a few minutes to de-stress.

Do this several times for the first week.

Please let me know if this works, or if you have any other issues.

Q&A: How to get my dog to listen all the time?

husky-puppyMy dog is a Husky x English Mastiff and she listens to me sometimes but sometimes doesn’t. I know she doesn’t take me seriously when I try to use a big voice. If I take her out to the park she plays keep away with me. Like she won’t come to me no matter how much I call or coax her until she’s ready. How do I stop this and make her listen to me without hesitation? ~Morgen

Hello Morgen! What a fantastic mix you have there! I bet she is certainly a handful. I think I can help you. (: There are actually a few things you want to remember, and a couple different solutions.

Many dogs enjoy the ‘game’ of keep-away. The chase simulates their hunting instincts stretching back thousands of years (although many dogs don’t consciously relate the two). I’m willing to bet your pup finds enjoyment in the ‘chase’. The park also likely resembles an area she feels safe with playtime activities.

Huskies are a very energetic breed, actually bred as a working dog to help pull loads far distances. In fact, these guys are the prime choice for professional dog mushers, commonly seen in endurance races like the world renown 1000 mile cross Alaskan Iditarod.

In the early 1900’s, before Huskies became the breed of choice, mushers preferred breeds like the larger and more powerful Malamutes. While they are stronger and able to endure heavier loads, Alaskan Malamutes aren’t nearly able to match the outstanding endurance of the Siberian Husky!

Your Two Options
This first option uses a reward based training method, and is by far my preferred method. Think of a command word you want to use (I prefer to use ‘Here’). Every time you use the command, give your dog a tasty treat reward. Eventually, she will begin to relate the reward with the word you use, and return to you every time- as long as the reward you’re offering is more preferable to whatever is currently occupying her attention.

Since she will be playing in the park, she might prefer to continue playing over your reward. You want to try and become the most entertaining thing around, using plenty of enthusiastic praise and joyous body language.

Second Option
This option uses a punishment based enforcement method. Where as you might cringe, punishment based training has its place. If you are trying to train your girl to avoid dangerous areas, like busy roads, or dangerous animals like poisonous snakes (depending on the part of the world you live in), this is certainly something you want to consider. I much prefer a little discomfort to a potential fatal situation.

This is where things like the electric collar come in handy. If you do decide to purchase an e-collar, be sure not to overuse it and make sure the setting is appropriate for your girl’s size. Inappropriate use of these tools can lead to fear or even aggression.

I hope this helps you. If you have any further questions please let me know!

Q&A: How do I train my dog to ignore the cat?

I have two four year old cats, and my boyfriend and I just adopted a new puppy. We are slowly introducing the puppy and cats – we have a pet gate with a cat door splitting the house into two halves. The cats have a towel with the puppy’s scent and vice versa. They eat meals on opposite sides of a door (which one of my cats still doesn’t like so we haven’t moved on). They look at each other through the gate mostly without hissing or incident.

One of my cats, Tesla, was getting more comfortable with the puppy and coming into the puppy’s area of the house on her own until the other day she came out without me noticing and the puppy chased her. Not in an aggressive way, but ran up to play bow to her. It freaked her out and now she won’t come back through the gate anymore, and it seems like now the cats are no longer making progress.

My question is this – how do I train my puppy not to chase the cats when the cats refuse to come out so I can interrupt the behavior? Everything I’ve read about training a puppy not to chase a cat requires the cat to be present, and I’m afraid it would be counter-productive to force my cats into a room with her while they are scared. Is there any OTHER way to train her to ignore the cats when they’re around so they will be more comfortable? ~Lisa

Training a puppy not to chase your cats is definitely a must for many reasons. Not just for the safety of your own cats, but other small animals your dog will likely come across in the future. Your puppy is likely chasing the cats based on 2 things – one is curiosity which all puppies are full of and the other is a natural instinct called prey drive.

Prey drive came from your puppy’s ancestors as a survival instinct to hunt and eat smaller animals as prey. In dogs, this usually does not get to the point of killing another animal, however it can and does happen. Stopping this behavior and redirecting your puppy’s prey drive will be of great use to your family.

You can redirect this prey drive using a ball, other toy or even an item called a flirt pole. These objects allow the puppy to chase something small and put the object in their mouth to carry. It fulfills the need to chase and grab without causing damage to another animal.

Meanwhile, without the cats in the room you can try teaching your puppy to pay attention to you using a positive interrupter noise. This is a sound, usually a kissy sound or special word, that will grab your dog’s attention no matter what he’s doing. So, when you reintroduce the kitties you can use this noise to grab your puppy’s attention and put him in a down stay or allow him to go into his crate with a special chew to observe the kitties in a safe manner.

To teach the positive interrupter noise, start with a handful of high value treats such as real meat or cheese and have your noise picked out. Make the noise and wait for your puppy to give you eye contact. He does not get rewarded until he provides even half a second of eye contact. Once he does, reward him and make a big fuss over it. Do this for a few minutes at a time in multiple training sessions. Always end on a good note, such as play time or a cuddle.

As you and your puppy get better with the eye contact, ask for longer periods of eye contact. Ask for 3 seconds, 10 seconds, and so on. However, don’t move too far beyond your puppy’s capabilities. He’s still a baby, after all!

When you do bring your kitties back into view of your dog, make sure the puppy cannot get into physical contact. This means keeping your puppy in a crate or playpen for periods of time to observe the cats. The puppy may get excited and rowdy, ignore this behavior. However, once he calms down and is quiet, you can reward him with a treat through the crate bars. As this behavior gets better, you can move to using a leash and allowing minimal contact. Don’t be afraid to correct your puppy’s behavior if it is unacceptable with your cats! This means asking your puppy to go into a down stay instead of pulling at the leash to sniff a kitty.

I hope this helps you. If you have any further questions please let me know!

Q&A: Should I discourage rough puppy play?

The Art Of Dog TrainingWe have a 6 month old lab mix and a 3 month old terrier mix (both rescue puppies). They both really want to play, but but the older lab pup gets way too rough and hurts the little one (I’m quite sure he’s not teeing to hurt her, he just plays rougher than she can take). How do we get him to play a little less aggressively workout discouraging play between them all together? ~Barbara

You do not need to separate your puppies permanently to keep them safe. It is important for puppies to be able to interact and learn from each other as a part of their socialization. This is how they learn to “speak dog” and respect each other, making them safe to be around other dogs in the future.

The older, larger dog can be worked with on his energy levels before allowing play between the two of them. For example, you can take him on a walk on his own or play ball with him before allowing the two to play together. Helping him use up some of his energy will help him interact with the smaller puppy in a less excitable way.

Another option is to take part in puppy socialization classes at your local kennel club or dog obedience school. Dogs of the appropriate sizes are allowed to play and romp and they will naturally learn what is and is not okay while playing together. This can help the larger puppy to learn his strength and self control while playing with another dog.

Meanwhile, I am including a training exercise to teach your dogs a positive interrupter noise. The purpose of this noise is to help your dogs immediately stop whatever they are doing, no matter how much fun they are having, and give their full attention to you. It will help to redirect their attention if play gets too rough and you need to get them to stop without anything negative attached to it.

Positive Interrupter Noise

When you make this noise, once it has been trained with your dogs, they will be able to stop whatever they’re doing and pay attention to you. This could be anything from an unwanted behavior to rough play that you need to interrupt, and you can do it simply by using a noise that will peak their interest.

You can use a kissy noise, a whistle, or even a certain word. Just remember that whatever you do use, it should not be used for any other purpose than as an interrupter noise.

Teach each dog one on one instead of working them together. Start with a high value reward, like real meat or cheese and sit at their level. Make your sound, and when they give you eye contact, give them the treat. Don’t give the treat immediately, wait for the eye contact! You can do this for about 5 minutes or so and take a break. You can do multiple training sessions in a day, but keep each session short and fun!

After your first few sessions, begin adding this interrupter noise into your daily lives. Your puppy could be just relaxing in his bed or sniffing around outside. Use the noise and when he comes to you and gives you eye contact, give him a treat!

As your sessions progress, ask for longer eye contact. Go from 1 second to 5, then to 10 and all the way up to 30 seconds. However, if your puppy gets bored and frustrated, you have moved too far too soon, and it’s time to dial the time back a bit.

I hope this helps you and your pups learn to play safely together! If you have any questions, feel free to message me!

Q&A: How do I train my dog to go through a doggie door?

Hello, My Lucy is a 5 year old border collie. She is very well trained. How do I train her to go through a doggie door? ~Carley

A doggy door, while convenient for us humans, can be pretty alien to dogs. They need to learn not only how it works but how to be confident about using it. Once you get started in the training process, it can become quite easy for the dog to catch on. You have to start simply to set her up for success and she will develop the use of it as a reliable behavior.

Start by removing the flap. Either tape it open or take it off completely. It helps to have another person, but you can do this alone if you need to. Use small, easily eaten treats that Lucy loves. This can be small bits of cheese, pieces of hot dogs, or her favorite treat.

With Lucy on the inside, and the doggy door flap open, ask a friend to stand on the outside of the door. Make sure you both have a handful of treats. The person outside should stand maybe a foot away from the door, and attempt to call Lucy through. If she is hesitant, your helper can lure her through using a treat in a closed fist. When she gets her first paw through the door, let her have the treat. This is helping her gain confidence in the door and associating it with positive emotions because of being rewarded.

As Lucy becomes more comfortable stepping 1 or 2 paws through the door, increase the difficulty by asking her to step half her body through. The moment she does it, praise and reward with a treat! She might walk straight through after, or pull backwards. If she walks on through, give her a treat and begin working with her coming inside the same way, starting with just 1 or 2 paws going through. If she pulls backwards, just ask her to come halfway through again before getting a reward.

Keep these sessions under 5 to 10 minutes long and always end it on a positive note. It can be a surprise “jackpot” of a few treats or even play. You can, however, have up to 4 or even 5 sessions in a day if you have the time and she does not grow bored.

In the next session, you will start with asking her to come halfway through the door, but after that first reward ask her to continue to walk on through. Reward her with a jackpot of treats when she does, and reverse it by asking her to go through the door again to go back inside. As a border collie, Lucy will most likely catch on to this very quickly, and you will be able to add in the door flap.

When you add in the door flap, using the lure technique may work best at first. With Lucy on the inside, place your hand in a fist with a treat inside. Put it just inside the flap so she will be able to see and smell it. Attempt to lure her to step her first 2 feet and head through the flap this way. When she does, remember that the flap resting on her may feel weird and scary to her. She may shy away and back up. Be patient and just try again unless you succeed.

Just as before, once she is comfortable with stepping through with just her front feet, ask her to walk halfway through the door. When she does, make a big deal out of it with praise as well as treats. She’ll learn this is a great thing to have the flap touching her!

She may step through or back out. If she steps on through the door, praise her some more, and attempt to get her to go through the door again to go back inside using the same hand-in-the-door technique.

In your next session, start with asking her to come through the door without putting your hand through at all. When she does, make a huge fuss as if she just did the best thing ever. Practice with it many times. Incorporate play by tossing a ball or favorite toy through the door and she must go through to fetch it. When going for walks, ask her to stay inside til you are out the door and ask her to come through the doggy door to get her leash on. Incorporating these little things will continue her love for using the doggy door and she will develop a habit of using it on her own to go outside.

How to deal with “Leash Reactivity”

Imagine the following scenario. You’re happily walking your dog. He’s trotting beside you, sniffing everything he possibly can. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and everything seems perfect! Suddenly, your dog sees Mr. Hairy Pawtter, the front neighbor’s Poodle. His body becomes tense and he immediately starts barking like a maniac. You tell him to be quiet, but it’s useless; he’s now lunging and growling. As you try to walk away, feeling embarrassed and angry, people stare at you, judging your misbehaved, unruly dog. As soon as Mr. Hairy Pawtter is out of sight, your dog returns to his sniffing duties. Why does he have to hate other dogs? Why does he have to act like he wants to kill them all?

Leash reactivity can be a complex behavior. First, we need to make the distinction between aggression and reactivity. Although it may seem like aggressive behavior, it’s simply an expression of frustration (or fear, depending on the cases). Leash reactivity usually starts when the dog sees another dog and has a strong desire to approach him; since he’s unable to do so, he becomes frustrated. As a result, the dog starts whining, pulling on the leash and may even bark at the other dog. The owner feels embarrassed and punishes the dog. After a few repetitions, the dog wishes to avoid other dogs at all costs, since he gets punished every time he sees one! Frustration has evolved into fear. At this point, the dog wants to get away from other dogs, but he feels trapped by the leash; henceforth, he may try to bite. This is the Flight or Fight response in action! Once you remove the leash from the equation, the reactive behavior vanishes, and the dog may even act very friendly and sociable.

Should you throw your dog’s leash away, then? Well, not at all. Leash reactivity is trainable, and you can improve your dog’s behavior by changing his emotional state. If you choose to treat the symptoms only, you’ll probably fail; one must address the root to be successful. First, remember never to punish your dog by barking, lunging or growling; it will only create more fear and frustration. If your dog is reacting because he’s frustrated for not being able to play with the other dogs, teach him self-control skills, by rewarding calm behaviors. If he sees another dog, ask him to sit or to look at you instead. If he does, even if it’s just for a second, reward him with high-value treats or his favorite toy. Increase the behavior’s duration, by rewarding him for longer periods of time. On the other hand, if he’s reacting because he’s scared of the other dog’s presence, you need to work with classical conditioning techniques only. As soon as your dog sees the other, offer him a steady flow of high-value treats. Keep doing so until the other dog leaves your dog’s sight, even if he’s acting hysterically. After enough repetitions, he’ll start to associate other dogs with treats and, as a result, the reactivity will decrease.

Q&A: How to stop my dog being aggressive when on a leash?

How to collar train a puppy or dogMy dog is about a year old and is around 40 lbs. She goes to daycare Monday thru Friday and does well there, but sometimes I think she feels the need to defend herself or assert that I’m her owner when I come to pick her up. Other dogs will growl and nip at her and she does it back (sometimes in defense of another dog doing it first, or she does it when other dog gets to close to her face). She’s fine at dog parks and being around dogs when she’s off leash. But when we’re on a walk on a leash and another dog comes and walks next us that’s on a leash, that dog can’t greet her or she will growl and try to bite. I’m assuming she feels the need to defend herself since she’s on a leash and can’t run if she feels uncomfortable. The other dog is usually excited and gets right up to her face and this causes her to react in this negative way. However, it’s getting to the point where I have to shorten the leash, because she will growl if the get a foot or two away. Is there any way I can get her to be friendly to other dogs on a leash or is this just something I have to deal with by never meeting another dog in a leash on walks? ~Abigail 

Dear Abigail,
There are many dogs that doesn’t like when others jump around their faces, there’s nothing wrong with that. However, you can desensitize your pup to be a little less reactive, but I still recommend you to ask the owner of the other dogs to keep their pup calm, as your dog is a bit sensitive/reactive, and in training.

Let’s start with the leash problem: have a bunch of treats on you while walking on the leash. When you see a dog coming towards you, ask your dog to sit and look at you. Give her a treat, and try to maintain her attention on you with talking nicely and giving her treats. At the same time, ask the owner of the other dog to keep the dog close to them to avoid any incident. If you feel like you can’t keep up your dog’s attention, walk away from the situation. She’ll get better day by day, the other dogs can come closer and closer. When you are confident in yourself and your dog, you can do this without making her sit, and keeping her eyes on you while walking past the other dog. Just never forget the treats… And if you lose your confidence, always walk out of the situation. Every negative experience can throw back the progress.

About the doggy daycare: you said she nips BACK. Why can other dogs nip at her at a doggy daycare? The professionals at the doggy daycare shouldn’t let it happen. When someone comes to pick their dog up, the excitement rises incredibly high, so the environment should be controlled enough to avoid accidents. When your dog greets you, other dogs shouldn’t go near her face. Of course it’s not good that she nips and growls, but you can’t stop it from a minute to another, so there should be someone to control the other dog in this situation, not to go too close to her, while you are training on desensitization.

What you wrote suggests that the cause of this “protecting” behavior is some sort of insecurity. Desensitization can solve a lot, but on the other hand, she has to feel that you are absolutely in control, and able to protect her from anything. I recommend you to get into some dog sport where you have to work together.