Can dogs learn to like other dogs?

Relaxed line encounter

A contribution by Mirjam Aulbach, a certified CumCane trainer, in 64832 Babenhausen

Encounters with dogs are often stressful, especially when they are on a leash. But there are a few tricks to make these encounters more relaxed - not just for you, but also for your dog!

Every beginning - consideration

Is your dog very social and would like to say hello to every other dog? That's great! Briefly clarify beforehand with the other person whether this is desired. Perhaps the other dog is on a leash for a reason and would rather not allow contact. The same applies the other way around: if you don't want your dog to make contact with the other, just say so. Not every dog ​​wants - and has to! - Get to know and interact with all other dogs.

The first rule - you're doing great!

When you meet on a leash, you can often observe how unwanted behavior slowly emerges. First, the dog's attention to the other rises. The body may tense up, the excitement rises. The dog runs faster or significantly slower. Why not give the dog a friendly praise for the first time when it sees the other person and stays calm? This rule always applies to everything: Tell your dog what he is good at! Sounds easy - it is. In everyday life it often happens that we humans overlook many things that our dog does great because they are so "normal" for us. Behavior that we don't like, on the other hand, quickly becomes apparent to us. In dog encounters, there is often a lot going on before the dog reacts in a way we don't like.

The second rule - you can do that!

Why wait for the excitement of the dog to rock so high that it shows behavior that we do not want? It makes more sense to tell him what he can do about the situation. Perhaps run close to your human being… show a little trick like touching the human hand with the nose or simply sitting by the side of the path. Find the right option for you and your dog. It's great when your four-legged friend suddenly has so many opportunities to get feedback from you about what is desirable in such a situation and what is worthwhile for him!

The third rule - watch and act

Frontal approach ... fast, straight running towards each other ... a stiff body with little movement ... a rigid gaze that is not averted ... these are frequent harbingers of a conflict. If your dog hesitates at an encounter, does not want to run - or only very slowly - ... hides behind you, tries to evade ... these are often signs that he would rather avoid the encounter.
Watch your dog for timely action. The sooner we recognize, the sooner we can prevent the dogs from meeting each other like this. If your dog does not want contact, he should not be forced. We also don't want to shake hands with everyone we meet on the street.
Do not run straight up to the other dog, but take a few steps to the side and indicate an arc. Let your dog walk on the opposite side so that you are between him and the other dog. This privacy screen often makes a lot easier and they give the dog encounter the right - friendly - note from the start.
And don't forget: tell your dog when he's doing something well!

Epilogue - contact never “online”?

One often hears that dogs should generally not have any contact with other dogs when they are on a leash. Is that right? Only in part. These encounters often go wrong because dogs have not been able to learn how to make nice contact on a leash. Especially nowadays, in which leash is compulsory in many places, encounters in everyday life often take place on a leash. It is good if the dog can learn to use it.
The most important rule when meeting lines is: the lines should remain loose. Every move brings restrictions and can influence the dog's reactions. Care must also be taken that the leashes do not get tangled and that both dogs can retreat at any time without getting entangled in a leash chaos. And of course the same applies here: always give feedback on what your dog is doing well!

Have fun with the relaxed dog encounter

Mirjam Aulbach