Working to prevent a dog fight on a walk or dog park is always better than having to break up fighting dogs. Here are some tips to keep you and your dog happy and safe this summer.
Start with basic obedience training in the house and then outside. Some commands to teach your dog are sit, stay, off, and watch me. If your dog is busy looking at you he/she is less likely to engage another dog in a challenge.
Socializing your dog in a controlled environment such as a dog class or daycare might be helpful in teaching your dog good manners.
Another tip is to reward good behavior by giving your dog a treat for ignoring another dog…begin by having distance between the dogs and gradually decrease this as your dog becomes more comfortable. Some signs of aggression include staring intently at another dog, stiff body posture, tail high up in the air or very low but stiff. Dogs that are not neutered or spayed are more likely to get into fights.
It’s also good to remember what signals you are sending your dog. For example, tightening the leash when another dog approaches is telling your dog that you are tense and anticipating a lunge. If you are scared or worried about meeting another dog on a walk you can muzzle your dog and walk with a relaxed leash. You can always carry a folding umbrella, citronella spray, or a can of compressed air (makes a loud noise when pressed) to surprise another dog that is approaching aggressively.
If you find yourself having to break up a dog fight, always approach the dogs from the back end avoiding the head. Quickly back away once you’ve pulled the dog’s hind quarters away from the other dog to avoid being bitten.
Finally, it’s a good idea to rule out a medical cause for your dog’s aggression so be sure to have he/she checked by a vet. If you are unable to manage your dog’s reactivity then it’s best to consult with a professional animal behaviorist who would likely have experience in this area.