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Going for a walk with your dog is one of the great pleasures of owning a canine friend. Getting outside in the fresh air, getting some exercise, and greeting neighbors and their dogs are all fun parts of taking a stroll.

But if your dog gets very excited and starts lunging and/or barking every time you get near or pass another dog, walk time can turn into a stressful experience for you and your dog.

Here are some steps to teaching your dog to put their attention on you – not distractions – when needed.

This is also an excellent way to practice for the AKC Canine Good Citizen test’s Reaction to Another Dog component. This test demonstrates that the dog can behave politely around other dogs. Two handlers and their dogs approach each other from a distance of about 20 feet, stop, shake hands and exchange pleasantries.

  • Use eye contact to keep your dog’s attention on you. Say “Look” or “Watch,” say “Yes” when your dog looks at you.
  • Although it is not required, you can ask your dog to “Sit” and give you attention. A “Stay” or “Wait” may be useful as well.
  • Teach “Leave it” and use for other dogs or people your dog cannot greet at the moment.
  • After the pleasantry exchange, get your dog’s attention and say “Let’s Go” in a happy voice. This will help prevent your dog from going behind you to try and interact with the other dog.

Exercise: Go to a parking lot or other areas where other dogs come and go. Start far enough away that the other dogs are not a distraction to your dog. Ask your dog to give you eye contact and reward. Take one step at a time closer and repeat the process. If your dog gets close enough not to give you eye contact, take a step back and begin increasing the value of the treat you are using. Do this in many different places until your dog is more reliable at giving eye contact around other dogs and distractions.

For more tips and training advice, enroll in the AKC GoodDog! Helpline – a seven-day-a-week telephone support service staffed by experienced dog trainers:
Get Your Free AKC eBook

Canine Good Citizen (CGC)

This program is recognized as the gold standard for dog behavior. In CGC, dogs who pass the 10 step CGC test can earn a certificate and/or the official AKC CGC title.
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