My Dog Lunges at Other Dogs


Q. My dog is friendly off leash, but when we meet another dog on a walk, he barks and lunges. How can I stop him from acting out?


Did you know that in other countries there’s not as much leash frustration or reactivity in dogs? But in the USA it’s rampid


Barrier frustration is distinct from aggression in that the canine isTrain Pawsitive Dogs friendly toward other dogs when he is off leash, but is reactive when he is restrained by a barrier. The barrier can be anything from a fence or window to a leash. If you have two dogs and one is crated and one is not, but they can see each other, this can also lead to frustration and reactivity.


As with all behavior issues, the first step is a trip to the veterinarian to determine if there are any underlying medical conditions contributing to your dog’s behavior. Once your dog has been given a clean bill of health, it’s time to start training. In the case of barrier frustration, training should start as soon as possible, as reactions toward other dogs can intensify over time.


Teaching your dog to relax around other dogs, teaching the LAT technique (Look At That),  heel with a loose leash, a tight leash can heighten reactivity. Treat your dog when he walks next to you; if he pulls on the leash or crosses in fornt of you, stop walking. Teach him to turn with you on cue. Work on both a 90-degree turn and a 180-degree turn.


 A turn can be used to create distance between your dog and another dog, and allows you to focus on calming behaviors until your dog learns to relax when another dog is nearby. You can divert your dog’s attention by walking up a driveway, crossing the street, or moving behind a barrier such as a parked car or bush.


Finally, turn spotting another dog into your canine’s cue to do a trick he enjoys. Excellent replacement behaviors include hand targeting (Touch), down stay, shake, spin, roll over and play dead.



The sound of approaching dogs, such as jingling tags or vocalizations, may set your dog off. When you are walking with your dog, you may inadvertently jerk or tighten the leash when you get nervous about an approaching dog. These cues make your dog even more tense. Change your dog’s association by pairing these cues with something pleasurable. Practice tightening the leash and giving your dog a reward. Pair the barking or collar jingling of another dog with the onset of a treat party. 


Dog-friendly canines can benefit from a play session with another dog before training to satisfy their desire for interaction. In addition, using food puzzles instead of food bowls to feed your pet helps to channel his extra energy.


A Thundershirt can be extremely beneficial in training dogs with barrier frustration. Adding the pressure wrap shirt to a training session automatically calms many anxious canines.


Collars are not the best solution for dogs that react on leash, because they don’t allow you to pull your dog around to face you when needed. Instead, use a harness that clips on the dog’s chest, a head halter or Freedom Harness for optimal control. 


In an emergency, if your dog becomes overwhelmingly worked up at the sight of an approaching dog, you can distract him by tossing treats on the ground for him to pick up until the other dog is past. Please call us if you need help! 239-682-3241