For all the cute things dogs do, showing their teeth, lunging and attempting to rip apart another dog are not attractive qualities. Getting your dog to present himself as a friend instead of foe might mean focusing on the basics and changing your own behavior. Treats are, of course, involved.
Practice positive reinforcement. For as loveable as they are, dogs can be just as infuriating, especially if you're being dragged 10 feet into the grass because there's a smell that just has to be checked out. Reacting negatively to those types of situations and yelling at or punishing your dog will make him afraid. Fearful dogs aren't confident, and they lash out at other dogs and people because of that fear. Instead of screaming at your dog when he pulls on a walk, reward him with a treat when he walks next to your knee. Dominating your dog to show that you're the one in control is actually the worst type of training you can employ.
Engage in daily obedience. Imagine a toddler who's never taught to obey his parents. That's as disastrous -- albeit a bit less dangerous -- than allowing your dog to go through his life without training. Without basic obedience, such as "sit," "lay" and "stay," your dog will look at you like you're a crazy person barking out foreign words when you want him to obey a command. Basic obedience also instills confidence in your pup and shows him that you're the leader. If you're the leader, he reacts to you, rather than the appearance of a strange dog.
Take your dog for a walk, and reward him with treats the moment he sees a dog and reacts positively or not at all. The appearance of another dog usually doesn't trigger an "I'm going to kill you" response from your dog if you're standing far away. This is the perfect time to condition your dog and make him realize that other canines just want to say hello and be on their way. Continue feeding your pup as you inch closer to the other dog, as long as he remains calm or at least sensible. When your dog reacts negatively, don't punish him. Repeat this training each time you see another dog on your walks. The goal is to walk right by another dog without your dog caring. For the first few times, you may want to try this with the help of a friend and his dog.
Act calm and collected when you see another dog. Lightly grip the leash and act like everything is normal. If you hold your pup's leash tight and walk at a different pace, your dog can sense these changes. If they occur at the exact time he sees the other dog, he thinks there's a reason for your fear, and he becomes scared too.
Take your dog for a stroll around your local dog park's fence, while other dogs are inside. Remember to reward him for reacting positively. If he starts barking and staring down the other dogs as if they have no business being near him, remove him from the situation.
Introduce your dog to a friend or family member's dog in a neutral location, such as the park, if he shows no aggression after continual walks around the dog park. Remain calm and direct your dog to the other dog's butt. Remembering the phrase "Nose to butt" will save you a lot of grief when it comes to meeting new dogs.
Keep an eye on the way your pup reacts. Growling, a showing of teeth or a rising of hackles are never a good sign. And a wagging tail doesn't always mean your dog's happy. Dilated pupils is another indication that you need to distance your dog from the other dog, or the two are going to throw down.
- University of Pennsylvania: If You're Aggressive, Your Dog Will Be, Too, Says Veterinary Study at University of Pennsylvania
- Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine: 6 Easy Steps for Introducing a New Puppy to Your Old Friend
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Dogs Who are Reactive On Leash
- A head collar makes it easier to control aggressive dogs when they thrash about.
- If your dog acts aggressively around people he knows, begins sleeping most of the day or eating less regularly, take him to the vet. He may have a medical problem causing his aggressive behavior.
- Never take your aggressive dog inside a dog park.
- Do not force your pup on other dogs until he's calm, collected and ready to meet them.
- Never allow your dog to greet other dogs while wearing a muzzle. He cannot defend himself if something goes awry.
Located in Pittsburgh, Chris Miksen has been writing instructional articles on a wide range of topics for online publications since 2007. He currently owns and operates a vending business. Miksen has written a variety of technical and business articles throughout his writing career. He studied journalism at the Community College of Allegheny County.