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Tuesday Training Byte: Stopping a lunging dog

Some dogs may appear aggressive, although fear may be driving that behavior. Regardless, if a friend comes into your house and your dog rushes toward them barking this could lead to a dog bite. This may also happen when you are out walking your dog and he suddenly rushes at the end of his leash toward a person on the path. Retraining a reactive dog is another topic, however if lunging occurs, get someone to help you who is dog savvy and not afraid (hiring a trainer is a good idea). Dogs understand body language and facial expressions. Recently I was at someone's house and I got up to use the bathroom. Upon returning to the room, the dog was lunging at me barking wildly. I stepped forward with one foot in a big step, thrust my head out front and low with a stern look, put my arm & hand extended fully out in a "stop" gesture, and commanded the dog in a harsh tone, "NO!" I made it abundantly clear that the dog was not to enter my personal space. The dog quit barking and all forward movement, but anxiously paced back and forth at a distance. Keeping my hand up and eye on the dog, I made my way back to the sofa while the dog retreated. I was careful to not act or speak in a way that would resemble "prey", but let the dog know the boundary. A fearful dog may bite, however if you give them the space to make a good choice and retreat, most will take it. Be sure to not let the dog to circle around behind you to launch a sneak attack. Pivot in place standing your ground. If you are out walking and a loose dog comes at you, try this method. It may well give you enough time to get to safety. If your dog is the problem, a good trainer can help get to the root of the behavior.

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