If Rover transforms into a wild bronco at the mere sight of another dog, you must try your best to hold on tight or you may be dragged for the ride of your life. The behavior of pulling and jumping when approaching other dogs is not unusual, so rest assured that you are not alone. Understanding the dynamics of what may be going on in your dog's brain may help make the problem more manageable.
Distance Decreasing Behavior
One of the most common causes reactive Rovers engage in pulling and jumping behavior is barrier frustration. These guys simply are so eager to decrease distance and interact with the approaching dog that they cannot contain themselves, and once they realize they are leashed and unable to interact, they explode in a pulling and jumping frenzy. This behavior can be frustrating to deal with and can significantly put a dent on the quality of your walks.
Distance Increasing Behavior
Some dogs have less amicable intentions and may pull and jump to intimidate other approaching dogs and increase distance. While these dogs may act on fear, their behavior is often simply a bluff just to make themselves look big and threatening. Every time the other dog leaves, these dogs believe their lunging behavior is what sent him away, so the behavior reinforces and continues over time. Soon a behavior pattern establishes and becomes more and more difficult to eradicate.
Sometimes pulling and jumping towards approaching dogs is simply triggered by lack of good manners or excessive pent-up energy. Young puppies may get overexcited at the sight of an approaching dog and may not contain their eagerness to meet, greet and play. Some dogs find that jumping gives them more power to pull forward and gain just a few extra inches of leash so they can get closer to the approaching dog. Regardless of the cause, you may want to find solutions for this problem.
The type of equipment you use can help make a difference in the pulling and jumping behavior. A simple buckle collar may not work, especially if you are walking a powerful 80-pound dog. Choke collars and prong collars will only make problems worse, since they cause pain and heighten the chances for aggression, according to certified applied animal behaviorist Kathy Sdao. No-pull harnesses and head halters attached to a leather or fabric 4- to 6-foot-long leash may be a better choice. Because of safety issues, avoid retractable leashes.
Behavior Modification Tips
No training tool is supposed to be used as a substitute for training. If your dog pulls and jumps, you will need to invest some time in training alternate behaviors. Practice walking your dog at a distance from other dogs where he is better under control. As soon as he spots another dog, feed high-value treats until the other dog is out of sight. With lots of practice and repetition, your dog should look at you in expectation of treats rather than pulling and jumping, and may also be finally capable of responding to your cue to sit or heel.
By Adrienne Farricelli
About the Author
Adrienne Farricelli has been writing for magazines, books and online publications since 2005. She specializes in canine topics, previously working for the American Animal Hospital Association and receiving certification from the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. Her articles have appeared in "USA Today," "The APDT Chronicle of the Dog" and "Every Dog Magazine." She also contributed a chapter in the book " Puppy Socialization - An Insider's Guide to Dog Behavioral Fitness" by Caryl Wolff.