How to Stop My Dog From Acting Crazy Around Other Dogs

by Lydia Janssen
Fear or aggression toward other dogs can make walks stressful.

Fear or aggression toward other dogs can make walks stressful.

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Your dog may act crazy around other dogs for a variety of reasons, from negative past experiences to territorial tendencies. Whether your dog is reacting from fear, aggression or overstimulation, it is important to help your dog be comfortable or at least tolerant around other animals, for his safety and for the safety of the dogs around him.

Types of Aggression

Pinpointing the cause of aggressive or otherwise "crazy" behavior is the key to modifying it. Dogs may become aggressive to defend their home, pack members, food or favorite toys. Fearful dogs may become aggressive in self-defense. Dogs may also act aggressively to assert social dominance, display frustration or compete for females in heat. Predatory aggression comes from an instinctive desire to hunt and is less common. Knowing what circumstances result in aggressive behavior from your dog can help you simply avoid them, such as keeping other dogs away while your dog is eating, or not introducing new dogs in your pet's home territory.

Leash Reactivity

Leash reactivity -- lunging or barking at other dogs while on the leash -- may be due either to fear and dislike of other dogs or to intense desire to greet them frustrated by the restraint of the leash. Avoiding situations that will make your dog reactive, such as crossing the street, picking up your small dog into your arms or turning in the opposite direction when another dog approaches, may be enough to manage the problem.

Desensitizing the Leash-Reactive Dog

You can desensitize your dog's leash reactivity by praising him and giving him treats any time another dog is in view. You must give the reward after he has noticed the dog, but before he starts reacting, often when the dog is still far away. This will teach him that good things happen when other dogs are around. Try enlisting a partner and a calm dog to make a structured and predictable training session for you pal until he becomes more accepting of new dogs. Gradually let the calm dog move closer while giving lots of praise and treats to your dog.

Dog-on-Dog Aggression

The first step in preventing dog-on-dog aggression is being aware of your own behavior. If you as the pack leader are tense and anxious, your dog will respond anxiously or aggressively to the situation. Keep a relaxed posture and a loose leash. Watch your dog's behavior closely and, at the first sign of tension, distract him with an upbeat command he knows or a treat he loves. You can use a head halter to gently turn his gaze away from the other dog. These distractions are often enough to break tension before it builds. The more often your dog has positive or neutral interactions with other dogs the less he will react to them.

Fear of Other Dogs

Dogs who are fearful of other dogs will benefit from your calm leadership. Maintaining a calm posture and talking in a cheerful voice when another dog approaches can help your pal know everything's alright. Offer treats to your dog when another dog passes to help him associate the other dog with good things. Do not drag your dog when he pulls away or refuses to move. Stand still, wait until he starts moving toward you again, and praise him when he does. Socializing young puppies with other dogs as well as people will help prevent issues like fear and aggression toward other dogs or strangers.

Hyperactive Dogs

Dogs need an outlet for their energy. When they don't get it, the result is often bad or crazy behavior. If your dog isn't getting enough mental and physical challenge throughout his day, you'll see hyperactivity, unruliness, jumping on people and other dogs, predatory or rough play, play biting and barking or whining. If you like exercise yourself, take your dog walking, jogging or hiking with you. You can also roller skate or bicycle beside your dog if your vet says he is physically fit for this type of exercise. If a daily jog sounds too tiring for you, try games like fetch, in which your dog will be doing most of the running. Mental exercises such as puzzle toys with a treat inside can help keep your pal occupied and less prone to hyperactive or destructive behavior.

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