Dog is a very gentle but playful 5yr old Lab x. He loves other dogs and has never shown any aggression. Most of his walks are off lead in the fields around my house, often with other dogs.
Recently however, when he is on the lead and we meet another dog, he starts barking and pulling towards them. This would obviously be upsetting for a nervous dog and annoying maybe even frightening for the owner. He's fine if he is allowed to meet with them (and runs a mile if they so much as growl at him!) but it's really tricky walking him like this as he's big and strong (and rude!!)
Any suggestions?? I have a gentle leader collar which works but I would prefer to address the behaviour. TIA.
I'm no expert but I would work on getting his focus on you. I use high value food treats as a distraction because my dog is overly interested in other dogs and prone to bark at them if we get near.
I have had the most success with a 'Watch!' cue, holding a treat near my face so he makes eye contact with me and trying to keep his attention for a few seconds. Perhaps you could shower him with treats when he manages to pass (or greet) a dog without barking and use a 'no reward' sound ('Uh-oh' or 'blown it') to teach him he's missed out on a tasty treat if he barks.
Thank you so much for your reply. That is really good advice. I will confess that I don't even bring treats out with me any more as he's so lovely but your message makes me realise I need to focus on that- he's VERY food driven so that could help.
'Watch' sounds like a great command. Thank you! I will be getting the strong cheddar out next time we go out!!!
It could also be an ownership or protective thing? He sees you as in 'his' pack and he must protect you from other dogs. My 4 year old does this with other dogs - jumps and barks when meeting them. Off lead she's much better. A vet said they act differently when on a lead, as the lead, to them, acts asuch a connection between you both, whereas off the lead you're not.
You can do walking exercises that help them focus on you and what direction you're going in - making you the leader more. If you have a field or garden you practice in, have them on a loose lead, so they can't feel much connection, and wall I a sporadic fashion, changing direction with no warning, then they'll learn to follow you and concentrate on your more... I did it every day for a couple of weeks and noticed a change in my girls behaviour