Teach your dog a contact/attention sound – a valuable tool, which you can use in any and all situations to help ensure your dog’s safety and wellbeing.
Create distance between your dog and the situations in which your dog exhibits the problem behaviour. This requires you being present, focused and vigilant on your walks so that you can spot the potential problems far enough in advance to change direction and create distance before any issues arise.
Reward and praise your dog in all the situations where he/she exhibits desired behaviour and proactively “checks in” with you or responds to the contact sound and follows your cues.
Gradually, very gradually, start decreasing the distance between your dog and the situations in which your dog exhibits problem behaviour. Do this with patience, only ever decreasing distance to a point where your dog is able to tolerate the situation without exhibiting the usual problem behaviours.
Remain very aware of your own emotions and energies throughout this process – dogs are much more intuitive than we give them credit for, and if they sense your insecurity they may become insecure themselves or feel like they need to protect you by barking and lunging at passers by. Your dog needs you to be and feel in control so that he/she won’t have to feel insecure or try to take control of the situation him/herself.
Once you and your dog find a mutual understanding of each other’s communication methods and body language you’ll be able to notice and address potential problems before they ever even happen.
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