TIP #1: AN OUNCE OF PREVENTION
In some ways, your dog's reaction to other dogs is like a bad habit. Every time she barks and lunges, she's like a would-be quitter having just one more cigarette. Keeping this in mind, anything you can do to prevent an incident is worth doing. Prevention is not giving up. It's a way of protecting your dog from situations that may overwhelm or frighten her and act to reinforce those old, bad habits.
You've probably already spent a lot of time trying to prevent incidents while walking in the neighborhood, but it always helps to review what you're doing now to stay out of trouble while you're working on a treatment plan. Most people with feisty fidos try to walk their dogs at quiet times of day. (We've learned to assume any dog out walking at 5:30 AM might be trouble!) When you do encounter another dog, don't hesitate to cross the street or turn and go the other way. To make this possible, try to walk on streets that have little traffic. Obviously, you are already avoiding streets with dogs running loose, but you also might want to look out for yards with high hedges that may conceal approaching dogs until they are too close. Most importantly, if any situation makes you feel concerned, avoid it. Many of our clients skipped their neighborhood walks during the early stages of training, and found other ways to exercise their dogs. Don't think you are being a wimp for avoiding trouble. You're being a wise and thoughtful dog owner with a carefully thought out rehabilitation plan.
- excerpted from Feisty Fido
TIP #2: TRAINING CONSISTENT INTERACTIONS
Use everyday situations to train and continually strengthen good manners - without spending a lot of time on dedicated dog training sessions. It boils down to this: Whatever the dog wants, don't give it away for free. Don't open the door just because the dog paws at it; don't throw the ball just because he barks at you. For those and countless other privileges, ask the dog to say "please" first by doing something like sitting quietly.
The benefits of this approach are many. For one thing, good manners become part of everyday routines rather than something the dog is asked to do only in special training situations. Your dog also learns a degree of impulse control. He realizes that not immediately acting on impulse, but rather stopping to consider alternative options, can be rewarding. Training also becomes linked in the dog's mind to all his favorite activities: he will sit for having his leash put on for a walk, he will comply with a request before being invited onto the couch, he will have to look at you before getting his breakfast or a chew toy, and he will release the ball before tossing it again, and playing fetch with you. When all good things must be preceded by responding to a cue that you give, your dog quickly learns to behave politely.
The goal isn't to seek the perfect obedient response to "sit" or "stay"; it simply teaches your dog to say "please." If the dog puts his bottom to the floor, the item or attention will be provided. Soon it becomes second nature, and your dog might default into a "sit" behavior instead of jumping or pawing at you. You can then decide whether to ask for an additional behavior, such as a "down" or "look." This is also a safety precaution: if your dog defaults into a sit position every time you get ready to open the car door, he will not bolt out and possibly get hurt. If he sits to have his leash put on, he will not run around and you will not have to chase him. This makes taking the dog out a pleasure instead of a struggle. Use a "please" action before:
Jeff Dentler, CPDT-KA, FFCP, CTDI