”My dog just wants to say hello”
"Don't worry my dog's friendly”
Any dog whether it be friendly or aggressive who is out of control can be DANGEROUS. You could in fact have a law suit on your hands if it continues, an injured dog or an injured person
A friendly dog can be dangerous...
When your dog jumps up, runs up to another dog on lead or pulls sharply to say hello, it's not only embarrassing, stressful but also DANGEROUS.
You have a duty of care to help keep others safe and your dog safe too. However, you feel frustrated, you want your dog to play nicely off lead but hate to restrict them by putting them back on the lead.
Sometimes it feels like a catch 22 - you need to train your pup, but feel you lack the guidance and controlled set-ups to help them succeed.
It's so important to consider the other side of the story and the consequences. I will go through these in more detail below.
1. The little old lady your dog nearly knocked over
If you see someone or something that will cause your dog to jump up - clip that lead back on and create distance. If you can predict their actions, most of the time you can help prevent them. Not everyone likes dogs and your dog could potentially injure a person. Your dog may only want to say hello, but some elderly people can be more vulnerable and unsteady on their feet.
2. The on-lead dog scared by your dog running over.
Firstly, if you see a dog on lead and you know your dog will run over, clip them back on their lead and give distance. It's likely the dog is on lead for a reason; they could be anxious or nervous.
Take a moment to think about the other owner who may be struggling to stop their dog barking or lunging at yours. Their dog does not want to be approached and it doesn't matter if yours is friendly or just wants to say hello. Help them by walking in the other direction to give them space.
3. The little kid playing in the park
Children are often more vulnerable than adults, unpredictable and the ultimate distraction!
If your dog is constantly running up to other children, adults or other dogs then manage and control it with a long line.
A long line can be used as a helpful training tool as it gives your dog more freedom, but gives you the confidence that you can get them back. Long lines are not the easiest tool, so please practice first in a non distracting environment.
Remember, a long line is likely to help, but only if you still have control of your dog - if your dog is twisting and twirling and incredibly excited please read the next few tips.
4. The picnic table
We've all been there! The dog that ate the burger, the dog that nose dived into the picnic basket. It may appear funny at the time, but in reality it's not only incredibly embarrassing but reinforces bad habits.
Keep the kid out of the candy shop - that's right, your dog is just too distracted by all the temptations around him/her. If you want to teach your dog to come back, or walk nicely on its lead, you need to start in a low or non-distracting environment. Start with some basic foundation exercises. A little impulse control, a look at you, or a sustained sit. If your dog can't focus without the distractions, there is no way he will listen to you outside.
Many people think it's funny to watch a dog chase a cat or squirrel but have you ever thought what would happen if your dog catches it?
You will need a degree of control over the environment but you've also got to trump these exciting opportunities and essentially be more exciting! So make training enjoyable and rewarding...
If I asked you to work for peanuts you'd probably laugh at me. Sometimes a pat on your dog's back or a verbal 'well done' is simply not good enough. You need to motivate your dog to want to come back. You need to be the best candy in the candy shop!
Verbal reprimanding your dog or getting angry will not help. This takes the fun out of training and associates unpleasant things with the owner.
Friendly out of control dogs can be dangerous. Remember it's ok to ask for help. An accredited trainer and behaviourist will help support you on your journey, help you with the handling skills and be able to give you some idea of set-ups suitable for your dogs' needs. Sometimes we all need that extra pair of eyes and this can really help clear the dog.
Thanks for reading,
Helen Motteram is the founder of Social Paws, specialising behavioural therapy for anxious or reactive dogs. You can find out more about her services at www.socialpawscheltenham.co.uk