3 Tips for Handling Pulling Toward Another Dog

AKC Community Canine is the new advanced level of the AKC’s Canine Good Citizen program. Dogs...

AKC Community Canine is the new advanced level of the AKC’s Canine Good Citizen program. Dogs who pass the AKC Community Canine test can earn the “CGCA” title.

When it came time to develop the CGCA test, we wanted a test that was empirically validated.  We conducted observations of 100 dogs (and their owners) in community settings.  We took data and had inter-observer reliability observations.

We found out that one of the most common problems was that dogs pull or lunge on the leash to go to other dogs.


Here are 3 Tips for Handling Pulling Toward Another Dog:


1. Teach alternative behaviors to pulling and lunging (DRI).
If your dog is pulling to go and see other dogs when out walking, teach the dog some basic obedience skills including sit and heel on leash. (However, the dog does not have to be in a competition heel position; the idea is he will walk close to you when given the cue, “Heel.”) DRI, differential reinforcement of incompatible behaviors, means reinforcing a behavior that is incompatible with the one you are trying to eliminate.


2. Implement Systematic Desensitization Procedure.

Systematic desensitization involves using a hierarchy from the least to the most problematic situation. For pulling on a leash, you could start with your dog 50-ft. away from another dog at the park. If the dog can do that without pulling, move to 20-ft., then 10-ft. and so on. 
Details on how to do this are in CITIZEN CANINE, the official book of the Canine Good Citizen program. Go here to order.  


3. Only move toward the other dog when your dog is behaving.

This is a different technique than systematic desensitization. If your dog pulls toward the other dog, turn around and go in the opposite direction, away from the other dog. When your dog is calm, turn and approach the other dog again. You may have to do this several times.


For more information on AKC Community Canine, go to: