We've all seen that dog coming down the sidewalk that ends up going berserk when he sees your dog...or we know he will go berserk. But why do some dogs go crazy when they see other dogs? The latter part of the above sentence explains most of it. We can sense without anything but seeing the owner and the dog, that the dog is going to go off. And if we can read that...which is generally through the body language of the owner...you bet that dog can read and sense that as well. As the pack leader, it's the owner's job to step in and control excessive barking or unwanted behavior. Here's how you can prevent your dog from being that yappy barking dog.
A leader is just as it sounds...if you're a leader and you don't "lead" you're going to lose people's (or dog's in this case) faith or believe in you. Leadership comes with many characteristics, one of them being to forge a path and remain in control. If you're an unbalanced leader and don't control your dog...if you're acting scared or uncertain...your dog may assume they are in control. And most of them are as scared or clueless as any first time owners...this is where errant behavior stems from.
If you have a yappy dog the first thing you're going to have to do is establish that you are in control...you're the pack leader. The easiest way to do this next to our 18" furry friends is by controlling the space around them. No matter how big your dog is, you're a more intimidating physical specimen. When you are walking around the house or on the leash...it's your space...do not move out of the way for the dog...in fact what you want to work on is moving the dog to own the space. If the dog is to your side you slowly move your leg to the left into his body...don't make eye contact...look straight ahead with your vision higher than his. He will move...and he will with continued conditioning and reconditioning understand it's your space. That is the first step
There is an entire guide to following through on this, but the most important part is establishing control and being confident in your decisions/commands...start with spacing and then once you're dog is listening again focus on exerting yourself as the leader in charge.
Your dog is generally a reflection of you...literally...there have been studies that show people tend to choose dogs with similar characteristics to themselves. And recently, there was another study that showed dogs tend to take on emotional/mental characteristics from the prolonged intimate cohabitation. What this means is if you're frustrated or acting like a psychopath screaming and yelling at your dog...he's probably going to be amped up ready to snap (see the hilarious video below!). That's not really the energy you want when you want to teach your dog something...make sure to remain calm and control the energy that you pass along to your dog...I promise it will make things 10 times easier!
If you're walking down the sidewalk and all of the sudden your dog bursts out into a chaotic devil puppy how do you get his control? Generally at this point it means your dog has already gone down the wrong route as far as conditioning...ie you didn't establish 1 & 2 above and your dog is now running his own show.
To condition this behavior at this point...once you have his ear and he respects you as the pack leader...you first need to snap him out of his zone. When dogs start yapping at other dogs (or seeing a squirrel) they get into a super emotional state...they can't think straight or make normal decisions. So don't even try to correct the behavior b/c it's going in one ear and out the other. The first thing you need to do is get him back to the normal wavelength...if you're on a leash you can give hime a gentle tug or simply turn w/ the leash as to move his head (eyes) away from the other dog. At that point you can get down and give him the negative criticism...a simple stern "NO....NO...NO..." with eye contact will do the trick for now (that won't fix it, but you can condition off that). After a few days of repetition you should get better about taking him from a 10 to a 0...or to preempt it, keeping him at a 6 when the other dog is walking by (again by a slight tug or movement of the leash). The key is keep him on a short lead so he's under your control...he'll feel more comfortable that way especially if you take control once the anxious negative behavior kicks in.
The hardest behaviors to curb are the ones that don't happen frequently enough to condition. Dogs, for the most part, have the cognitive capacity of infants...so whereas you're telling your 6 year old not to throw the ball in the house once every 2 weeks and he might actually learn...conditioning a dog to do something where the negative stimulus happens every 2 weeks or even every day is going to be very difficult. You have to push cause and effect to the dog in a very elementary manner in order to get that lightbulb to go off..."ohhh I'm not supposed to do that".
In this case, if your dog is exhibiting a negative behavior, say barking at that dog coming down the street every morning on your walk...the only way your dog is going to "get it" is if you artificially provoke that activity to happen more often...until he gets has the "ahh ha" moment. Just like shooting those free throws in basketball...practice makes perfect...the more often the dog is subjected to and can have the chance to react to a stimulus the more likely he will eventually pick up on the correct behavior...that's when positive reinforcement comes into play.
What you want to do...and Cesar always pushes this...is getting a friendly neighbor dog to walk down the street next to you time after time. Do this until your dog gets comfortable with it. Remember this is as much on you as it is on your dog so remain calm and in control. Continue to reinforce the negative and positive behaviors. Depending on how deep routed the barking is this may take a few minutes or a few days of practice...but again stay persistent...practice makes perfect!
Lastly, and this will make your life easier any way you slice it. Dogs that are tired, or simulated are happy dogs! Just like humans, dogs need to be mentally stimulated or they become bored, anxious, or restless....all of which lead to nothing, but bad bad outcomes!
Make sure to give your dog a sufficient walk outside each day (at least once)...and if your dog is going to be inside keep him busy with toys and treats. We're spoiled in 2017; there are so many ridiculous easy, cheap toys out there to keep our dogs busy with...there's no reason not to.
And lastly, the most underrated form of stimulation is simply playing with your dog...I can attest to the fact that Griffey would rather play for 10 minutes any day than go to the dog park. Your dogs love you....they would much rather get the love, attention, and stimulation from you than any other way...and at the end of the day it's going to be a hell of a lot more rewarding for you and your dog.
Have you tried any of these techniques? How did it go? Tell us in the comments.