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Basic Training

On-Leash Encounters with Other Dogs

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When walking your dog on leash, it is quite common to encounter other dog parents doing the same. So, what do you do when this happens? There are only two possible outcomes for the dog’s greeting and neither is particularly useful or desirable.

  1. After the initial investigative sniffing and greeting ritual the dogs play.
  2. After the initial investigative sniffing and greeting ritual, the dogs fight.

Neither is really better than the other. If the dogs sniff and then play, your dog has gotten a jackpot reward for going up to a strange dog and introducing himself. The next time he sees a strange dog, he’ll want to pull you towards that dog to greet it.

Now each time your dog will strain harder and harder to get to the other dog, hoping to stop and play.  This can lead to a harder and harder time managing your dog on walks, since he now gets so distracted around other dogs.  And if your dog mostly plays when he greets other dogs, but suddenly meets a dog that tries to fight him, your dog will quickly learn not to trust oncoming dogs. This can lead to a dog that preemptively lashes out at other, on-coming dogs.  What was once a perfectly friendly dog, has now turned into a snarling, lunging monster.

On the other hand, If the dogs sniff and then squabble, or actually fight, then your dog could either start to fear other dogs when he sees them on the street, or worse, he will begin to pull towards them, wanting to pick a fight.  Whether fighting or playing, on-leash encounters usually produce a dog that pulls and strains and often lunges to get to the other dog. The motivation may be different (I want to play, I want to fight) But the symptom is the same; your dog becomes more and more of a nightmare to walk in public.

So what’s the solution?

The best solution to these growing problems is to avoid the possibilities all together, by teaching your dog to ignore other dogs completely when walking on leash, unless specifically stopped on command, told to sit and wait for permission to approach and greet.  Otherwise your dog should learn that when he’s on leash, he should walk past and ignore other dogs. There is no need for your leashed dog to learn how to greet other dogs, in order to be a good canine citizen.

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  1. Avatar Of Jj



    Hi Diane – I would like more specific info on this. My rescue dog gets very aggressive with other dogs – he wants to go up and investigate them, but as soon as he is close enough, he tries to nip them in the face. Any detailed information would be greatly appreciated

  2. Avatar Of Corgi Mom

    Corgi Mom


    I have all 3 situations with my two rescues. They sometimes ignore other dogs they encounter while on leashed walks, when other times they either pull and want to play or pull and want to fight. Would love info and how to keep them calm in the latter two situations.

  3. Avatar Of Leo'S Mom

    Leo's Mom


    I agree–please provide the follow-thru. How do we go about training our pups to ignore potential playmates on the street? I have a GSD who LOVES people and dogs but lately has been getting aggressive. I don’t know why this happened or how to stop it. Some tips would be greatly appreciated!

  4. Avatar Of Peter Peter says:

    I saved a shelter dog – who has had a horrendous 2+ years of life- he is filled with love— while perfect with me, as soon as in the midst of other dogs- he goes nuts and wants to play with them– how do I train him correctly, and where can I take him to interract and have fun with other dogs?- Frankly, I don’t trust other owners.

  5. Avatar Of Rusty Shack

    Rusty Shack


    Bait and switch!

    This article was great… until it wasn’t. It got to the crux of the matter — that the ideal situation is for your dog to ignore other dogs, normally — but never explained how to get a fighting or loving dog to change behavior.

    Or maybe the purpose of the article was to garner email addresses. In that case, it worked.

    • I’m glad you enjoyed part of the article…so thank you! This was but a brief explanation of what to do about the problem. It was not meant to go into specific training details on how to accomplish the task.

      If you would like more information on how to proceed don’t hesitate to email me and I would be glad to give specific details.

      My Best Regards,

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