How to Help When a Dog Doesnt Like Dogs – Free Tips

By: David Codr

Published Date: April 24, 2024

dog doesnt like dogs

For this Santa Monica dog training session we worked with 1 year-old Cockapoo Papa, going over how to help when a dog doesnt like dogs.

In the dog world, we like to call a dog who acts out at other dogs “reactive.” Some people say aggressive or mean, but these are all problematic descriptions as dogs get upset around dogs for many reasons. Sometimes when a dog is chirping at another dog, they are scared and doing so to make the other dog go away, sometimes they are frustrated because they can’t get close enough, sometimes they’re anxious due to the situation or environment.

Since Papa had a few other dog behavior problems, I ran through a number of fundamentals with his guardians before we turned our attention to his habit of being reactive to dogs.

We started off by going over a number of fundamentals like how to use marker words, hand targeting, dog consent & body language, the importance of rewarding in celebrating desired behaviors, the introduction to scent games and the importance of introducing and enforcing some rules to help a dog develop more respect for their humans.

Setting rules may be difficult for Papa’s parents. He is one incredibly handsome and cute puppy. But just like humans who get by on their looks, it’s possible to develop some behavior issues and quirks. Papa displayed some demand barking and at times was a little determined in his own way.

But I don’t think getitng by on his good looks is the whole issue. After chatting wiht his people, I think a lack of early socializaiton is to blame for his being unhappy around dogs. Unfortunately Papa did not get a chance to go to puppy classes when he was young. I would say the overwhelming majority of my dog behavior clients end up needing me because they skipped going to a puppy class when their puppy was under six months of age or got the dog as an adult. This is why I started our puppy classes in our midwest location in 2017.

Having your puppy practice being around other well-behaved dogs in a supervised and structured situation is incredibly important and severely underrated by new puppy parents. This often results in an adult dog who is insecure around other dogs and barks at dogs, snaps at dogs or lunges at dogs to make them go away. I think Papa is uncomfortable around dogs due to being socialiiy inexpereinced. This isnt a case where a dog hates dogs, he likly just isnt confident around them.

Dogs can smell when another dog is insecure by sniffing the rear end. Just like humans, dogs don’t like anyone to know that they are insecure so they try to hide it. Many dogs act aggressive when they see other dogs to make the other dog go away. This often works either with the dog or the dog’s human leading them in another direction.

But anything that happens after a dog offers a behavior is going to cause the dog to repet the behavior because it works. A dog that barks at other dogs to make them go away and finds the barking is successful will usually continue to bark in the same way.

Dog Doesnt Like Dogs Solution

In order to stop Papa from getting mad around other dogs, we need to start creating a positive association when he is around unknown dogs. An easy way to help a dog who isnt comfortable around dogs is to make something amazing happen when the situation arises. A great way to do this is an exercise called the engage disengage game.

The engage disengage game rewards dogs when they are around other dogs, but positioned far enough away that the first dog does not react. Once this happens, every time your dog looks at the other dog, you reward them; essentially for not barking or getting upset.

Because Papa needs time to become conditioned to the marker word and many of the other dog behavior tips I went over in this session, I decided to show his humans how to do it inside the living room and with each other playing the part of the other dog.

Many people want to immediately get their dog around other dogs to work on these kind of things. But we dont learn how to drive on the freeway. We learn in a calm quiet place (classroom) then once we know how to do it, that’s when we starting making it more challanging.

If you have a dog that is unhappy around other dogs, you’re going to love this easy exercise. Click the link below to watch a free positive dog training video to stop dogs from getting mad at other dogs.

One of the most important things when practicing this exercise to help when a dog doesnt like dogs is to make sure that you are managing the distance properly. You want to make sure that your dog is comfortable which means its body language is relaxed and your dog is not giving any cut off signals.

If your dog is stiff, stares, bears its teeth, raises its tail, pupils get dilated, the hair on their back stands up, their ears go back, they start breathing really fast or hold their breath, these can be indications the dog is uncomfortable. Or that your dog dislikes dogs. These are often a warning to the other dogs.

When Papa’s guardian sees any of these indicators, they need to immediately redirect his attention then move him a few feet away before they start to practice the secret to help when a dog doesnt like dogs.

It can take some practice and a lot of positive associations before the dog starts to feel more comfortable. Often I suggest that my clients recruit friends of theirs that have another dog. That way they can coordinate a meet up at a park at a time when it is not very busy and there’s a lot of open space.

I also recommended the guardians keep score of their progress. I like to count every look at the other dog without a growl or other indicator as a positive score. Each time that the dog barks, snaps, or shows another indication that they are uncomfortable, that is the score in the negative column.

Ideally you want to see a score where you are in the 20, 30, 40, or 50 positive with zero or a very low number of negatives. These are lots of positive associations and a great way to help when your dog doesnt like dogs.

It’s also important to take breaks. I usually only practice this exercise for a couple of minutes, maybe 3 tops. Then I move the dogs away from one another and allow the dog to sniff the ground, play or have some fun. After a couple of minutes of this I go back and practice another 1 to 3 minutes of the engage disengage game.

I’d like to see the guardians practicing this positive dog training exercise a couple of times a week. They can try to practice on walks but the chances of not being able to increase distance or having other stimulus influence things are much higher on a walk.

But based on how dedicated to their dogs well-being Papa’s humans are, I’m guessing that they’re going to be equal to the task.

We covered so much is this in Home Santa Monica dog training session that I wanted to record a roadmap to success summary video to help the humans remember. You can check it out below.

Need Help with Your Dog's Behavior? Click here for a free in home quote
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This post was written by: David Codr