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Ask a Trainer Question Answered

Author: Andrea Miller | Date: February 16, 2012

Here’s the next round of answers for our Ask a Trainer feature on our new website. It’s your chance to get dog training advice from the pros at AnimalSense. Stay tuned for more questions & answers, and if you have a burning dog training question, just “Ask a Trainer”!

I’ve had Penny for a year and a half, she’s roughly two years of age now. The first year was wonderful, she was relaxed, calm, and playful. In the past 3-6 months, she’s kept her charm, but attained some less than desirable behaviors.

On leash, while on walks she’ll meet a new dog and will sniff playfully for about 10-15 seconds, and then lunges and is very vocal. Off leash, twice in the past week, she’s played well for 10-15 minutes, and then started chasing another dog. She used to love chasing and running away, but now she gets growly and snappy, to the point where I’ve had to pick her up and leash her, because its a violent altercation.

She gets 3 1.5 mile walks a day or so, as well as shorter ones, indoor clicker training (it’s winter), and plenty of love and attention. If we’re one on one outside, her recall is usually excellent, and she listens to commands well. I just don’t know what to do anymore, and I hate to think I can’t take her to off leash areas. In dog parks alone she stands and looks sad.

Penny is right at the age where major change occurs in dogs. She’s still a teenager, and making the transition into maturity, which can be a rocky period for both dogs and parents. Be patient, and stay the course!

When your dog greets another dog on leash, keep that greeting to less than 10-15 seconds since that is where she is successful right now. Allow her to greet the dog for 3-5 seconds, turn and walk away from the dog and give her a treat as a reward. She’ll eventually associate greetings with good things and won’t need to bark and lunge in order to get away from the other dog.

Limit the time she is in dog parks (one to two visits per week lasting no longer than 30 minutes) while she is in this adolescent development stage. It’s always better to have dogs play in a low-key environment, rather than a high arousal area, so also pay attention to how many dogs are in the park. Dog parks can provide an excellent opportunity to socialize with other dogs, but frequent use can create a dog that requires too much stimuli in order to “be tired” and you don’t want to build that kind of tolerance in your dog.

Since you have a reliable recall outside of the dog park, practice your recall outside of the park on a long lead. Gradually decrease the distance until you can get a reliable recall close to the park. This will help Penny better translate behaviors outside of the park to inside the park but remember to use baby steps and always go back to the point where she was successful.

Another group training class will continue Penny’s success. We’d recommend Recall & Leash Manners this Spring, to give her the opportunity to practice these skills around new dogs and in new environments.


We would now go anywhere in the greater Chicagoland area (we’d probably stop at state lines) to take these classes.

Kelly F. | View Client Testimonials


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