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I've been working with my dog for some months now, with her on lead walking. One of the things we're still having difficulty with is other dogs.

Specifically - I don't think she's being aggressive as much as boisterous and keen to inspect/play with other dogs. However when she can't do this, she'll get frustrated and make an awful racket (such that I expect other dog owners do think it's aggression).

I know for a fact that she's fine offlead with groups of dogs - we even take her to daycare on a weekly basis for playtimes, and will play just fine offlead in the field with other dogs in the village.

It's primarily on the lead. Another dog running around (a long way off) and her not being able to play is a key example. Worst of all is a neighbour who throws a ball for her dog in front of us. (The other dog shows no interest or reaction).

What I've been trying so far is the 'sit and pay attention to something else' approach - when I spot another dog, move to one side, get her to sit and watch me for treats. It's helped, but we're still having problems, and it's been a year later.

Not to mention - that the sit-and-watch approach simply doesn't work everywhere we go, e.g. busy places, because there is too many dogs/not enough space.

Am I doing the right thing, or is there another approach I should take?

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Dogs often do this out of excitement before they have learned how to work through that excitement with self control. You are on the right track by helping her to learn to be calm and have focus on you even when she is excited but it sounds like you are stuck. You are at the stage where she is able to focus on you with another dog present but you want to be able to keep going on your walk without stopping. So we need to start showing her with small steps what that looks like. Here are some things to try to keep progressing in your training.

  • when working on a new skill try to work at a further distance from the distraction so that she can be successful more of the time. This will help her learn the new behavior faster.

  • make it fun. Don't always ask for a sit and stay. Sometimes ask for a down ar a little trick like a shake or just a nose touch to your hand. Or walk in little circles treating her for being right at your side.

  • be interesting. You can walk at different paces or walk erraticly to make her have to think in order to stay with you to get the reward.

  • If she is interested in toys then use them as a reward! When she looks at you squeak the toy and throw it a short distance in the opposite direction from the other dog or throw it to her to catch or better yet let her tug on it with you. The goal is to get her to realize that you are fun and you make the choice about when she gets to play.

  • Vary the amount of time you ask for a behavior. Sometimes make it very short by releasing her the second she sits. Again, this is helping to make the activity with you more interesting and getting her in the practice of using her brain even in exciting situations.

For more information you can read a book called "control unleashed". It has a lot of good step by step practice games.

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