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How to Get Your Dog to Stop Barking and Lunging on Leash Many dogs bark and lunge at other dogs or at certain people or objects.
Fortunately, I have this convenient article in which to explain why jerking and snapping are no help at all. She flings herself forward, muscles tight, and her tail may be tensed over her back or tucked between her legs. If your dog is strong and fast and catches you off guard, you can wind up with a sprained shoulder or faceplanted on the sidewalk.
Leave her to her own devices and she won’t settle down till the other dog is far enough away. In New York City, we have these giant cockroaches we call water bugs, and if you brought one of them up close to me while I was on a leash I would be shrieking and foaming at the mouth until that thing was gone.
Yes, you could punish me hard enough to make me stop-- but you couldn’t punish me into feeling good about nearby water bugs. And you can punish your dog hard enough to shut down her explosion, sure--but you can’t punish her hard enough to make her feel the world is peachy keen in proximity to other dogs. In addition, from your dog’s point of view the aggressive display seems to work pretty well--after all, the other dog always goes away.
Several factors can affect it--the other dog’s size, appearance, and behavior, for three.

A big dog with a naturally high tail and an intense stare might as well have a target painted on him--and in fact, that intense stare suggests he’s a little reactive himself. How many close encounters your dog has already had that day will affect his stress level and thus his propensity to blow. Your job as your dog’s guardian is to look out for his welfare, and that means helping him out of tough spots. If you’re blindsided--say, a dog comes around the corner--and he does explode, then just hold that leash till you can get out of Dodge. I know some people will be happy to give you the evil eye and tell you you should scold or hurt your dog.
Remember, this is damage control till you get help.Desensitization and Counterconditioning for Reactive DogsThere are two scientifically sound and humane approaches to behavior modification for reactive dogs. In this process, you start with the mildest version of the problem stimulus that your dog will notice.
As soon as your dog notices it, you deliver something your dog loves--usually, this will be a superdeluxe treat, roast chicken let’s say. When desensitization and counterconditioning is done right, your dog learns that the sight of other dogs reliably predicts that roast chicken appears in his face. Over time he comes to tolerate or even look forward to the proximity of other dogs, because they are such excellent predictors of succulent dead bird.The Constructional Aggression Treatment for Reactive DogsThe second approach is called the Constructional Aggression Treatment, or CAT.

Elements of it have been around forever, but the behaviorists Jesus Rosales-Ruiz and Kellie Snider are responsible for formulating it in a systematic way. One is that though aggressive displays may start in a moment of panic, dogs learn over time that aggression works. The second premise is that most dogs are friendly in some contexts--so the trick is to teach her to import those friendly behaviors into the problem situation. In a CAT session, the learner dog is presented with a mild version of the problem stimulus--for the purposes of this podcast, another dog. As soon as the learner dog offers any non-aggressive behavior, the other dog moves further away. Also, many dogs benefit from appropriate behavioral medication--ideally, prescribed by a vet board-certified in this specialty.Dogs do better when we guide them and help them succeed.
It’s been well established that those techniques are useless at best and, at worst, will exacerbate your problem in the long run. No trainer who is still employing them has any business taking your money.A good brief discussion of counterconditioning and desensitization is here.

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