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I have a border collie mix who is highly leash-reactive that I'd like to introduce to a friend's dog. When we are out on walks, we never introduce her to dogs because she goes into a complete frenzy whenever she sees another dog. Most of the time it's general wining and pulling but she can also "go into orbit" and start barking and pulling incessantly. Needless to say she doesn't approach other dogs with the right energy. :(.

We've been able to introduce her to other dogs off-leash on occasion. She does ok at the dog park but we don't take her very often. She has one dog friend she plays with all the time. But we've also had bad experiences. We introduced her to someone's dog off leash and her energy was too much for the other dog to handle I guess, and a fight ensued. The other dog (a pit mix) bit our dogs ear and pinned her down. I've been wary about introductions every since.

I've read that introducing dogs gradually by taking them on a walk together is a good idea so I'd like to try that this time. But my dog is most reactive when she's on leash! I've afraid she's just going to get so excitable and aggressive it'll ruin the whole introduction. Any advice?

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It sounds like your dog needs:

  1. Basic obedience training
  2. Re-conditioning when it comes to other dogs

If your dog is reliable with basic commands, putting her into a down/stay position will prevent her from jumping around and barking (most dogs aren't able to bark loudly while laying down). It doesn't sound like your dog is reliable, otherwise I assume you would have tried this.

While you're working on basic obedience the best thing you can do is be vigilant. When there's another dog nearby, before your dog starts freaking out, get her to pay attention to you and before she can get excited reward her for being calm. Continue to distract and reward her until either the other dog is out of sight or she loses her cool. You'll want to get some high value treats for this, like pieces of freshly cooked beef and chicken or at the very least treats that are made with 100% meat.

The main issue here is that the barking and jumping are intrinsically rewarding for the dog, so your best hope is to cut the behavior off before it starts.

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