Meeting the dogs in your neighborhood

Credit: David Shankbone / Wikimedia Commons

Dear Paws: I’m trying to train my six-month-old Lab, “Pepper,” to be well-behaved on our walks around the neighborhood, especially when she meets other dogs. She’s very excited and tugs at her leash and barks; many of the other dogs do the same, but they’re not always friendly – there’s a lot of growling sometimes. How can I keep the peace among the neighborhood dogs? – Nervous Dad in Delaware

Dear Dad: You don’t have much control over how other owners train their dogs – other than making sure they keep their dogs on a leash unless they’re in a designated free run area like a fenced-in dog park – but you can control Pepper’s experience and her behavior.

Before walks and during the day, reinforce her basic behavioral training, particularly teaching her to sit and stay on command. This is helpful when meeting other dogs; keeping Pepper from leaping around excitedly can go a long way toward keeping other dogs calm as well.

When walking Pepper, pick a route where fewer dogs will pass, or with dogs who are calmer and not aggressive. Start by walking Pepper across the street from approaching dogs; as you get within several paces, stop and command Pepper to sit and stay while the other dog and owner pass. Repeat until Pepper stays seated and calm; then try the approach technique on the same side of the street.

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