So do you want your dog to like other dogs? Well, you should know that this is a request that I get quite a bit from people, and I’m going to go into it in here in just a few moments. I want to share a little bit of a story first, a story of a client that I’m training with right now.
This client has a German Shepherd dog. This dog came to me with two significant issues. The dog was very reactive to other dogs and people on walks, and it was also hard to walk in general. And the other issue was that any time they were taking a ride in the car, the dog would bark at practically every dog that it saw, and it was starting to bark at some people too.
How Would You Like Your Dog To Respond
So during our most recent session, we all loaded up into the car. In the front seat was one of my clients, myself, and in the back was the dog with my other client. We started to drive along. I asked the question, so, how would you like your dog to respond instead of how it’s currently responding? They said they’d like the dog to maybe look at her and be happy, but not necessarily aggressive the way that she is.
They also said that they would like her not to be on high alert when they were riding. So as I thought about what they wanted, I asked myself if the dog could look at other dogs and be happy. And it just seemed to me that it was somewhat of an unrealistic request. Now I’m going to come back to the main topic: I want my dog to like other dogs, but I still want to talk about this one because they’re very similar.
Quite A Few Dogs
What I ended up telling my client about this issue is that it will be challenging to reinforce. Because they’re going to need quite a few dogs, and the nature of driving makes it where you’re unpredictably going to see a dog along the path. I did tell my clients that the better thing to do was to have the dog in a down and begin to receive rewards for doing that.
And then, any time the dog gets up, they would assertively, not forcibly, ask the dog to lie back down. And then, after the dog complied and was calm for several seconds, they would begin to reward again. What ended up happening was that the dog stopped looking out the window, and it began to calm down because it started getting instruction, and then it began to get reinforced. So this way, we could build the habit of being a calm dog in the backseat and not on high alert, looking for each and every dog.
So now this goes to what I want to start talking a little bit more about. I want my dog to like other dogs. This is the thing that a lot of us want. And I have to tell you, I want Gabby to get along with Jericho and Alpha, and I want all three of them to get along very well. And for the most part, they do. Alpha has a few issues with Gabby. When Alpha is eating, Gabby gets a little too close, and Alpha begins to growl and lets her know that she needs to back away.
Would it or will it ever end up in a fight? I’m going to do my best to make sure that it doesn’t. So what I think is that it’s not always possible to have your dog like other dogs. However, it is possible to teach your dog to ignore them and to tolerate them within reason. I think this is the request that most of us should be asking our dogs to make. Tolerate and ignore other dogs instead of asking them to be friendly.
You often see when dogs that are in opposite packs, differing packs, they don’t necessarily get along. There are a ton of dogs that do get along just fine. But it just takes a couple of these not-friendly ones that are outside of their pack to cause a big problem for you and your dog. It’s just really easy if you can teach your dog to ignore other dogs. And then, if another dog decides to become aggressive to you and your dog, we, as humans, can step in and get those dogs away from our own.
Now, this isn’t necessarily a popular opinion because we all want our dogs to enjoy the company of other dogs the way that we do. But it just seems unrealistic to me that all dogs would enjoy other dogs. And so sometimes the best thing that we can do is teach them to tolerate these other animals and, in doing that, to build a deeper and more meaningful relationship with us.