There are several reasons that dogs are aggressive with strange dogs. Some are frustrated by their lack of opportunity to play with other dogs, so they lunge and bark. Some dogs are afraid of other dogs due to lack of socialization and growl to keep them away. Other dogs have had traumatic experiences with other dogs, and some were removed from their litter too early. With some dogs you may never know the reason because they were rescued at an older age. If your dog responds aggressively only to obnoxious behavior from another dog, he is just behaving normally. (More on this below.)
Is your dog lunging at strange dogs when you take him for walks? The first thing you need to do is arm yourself with a bag of delicious treats and a head collar, such as a Gentle Leader. Your goal should not be to make your dog friendly with other dogs. Just like people, not all dogs get along. Your goal should be to have your dog walk politely by another dog, keeping his attention on you. Start feeding your dog the minute you spot another dog, before your dog sees the other dog, and keep feeding him until the other dog is past. Use your Gentle Leader to break eye contact with the other dog. No Gentle Leader? Just turn around abruptly and head in the other direction. Another useful tool is the vinegar and water spray bottle (described in chapter 8), used just as your dog sees another dog and before he lunges or barks. It is beyond the scope of this book to describe a complete desensitization and counter-conditioning program.
Dogs who bark wildly at the window when another dog walks by are not only being annoying; they are the dogs who are likely to get into a fight if they escape out the door, or worse, run across a street to chase a dog and get hit by a car. These dogs have a mistaken sense of power because they think they are driving other dogs away with their barking. You need to stop this behavior, and you need to do more than just yell at him, which you've probably already discovered doesn't work. Try something as simple as calling him when he starts to bark and giving him a treat for coming. You might also try the spray bottle. If your dog is just mildly aggressive, try an obedience class. That way he'll learn to listen around other dogs. Bring powerful treats to keep his attention. Some dogs, however, are too aggressive to be in a class with other dogs. Be honest with the instructor or training club when you sign up. Perhaps you can take a few private lessons before going into a class.
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