DEAR PAW’S CORNER: My dog, “Sandy,” gets very excited when people pass us while we’re out walking. She is not mean, but she likes to bark and tries to paw at or jump up as people get close. Sandy gets particularly excited when a jogger passes us. How can I stop her from doing this? — Bill in Boulder, Colo.
DEAR BILL: Getting Sandy adjusted to all the exciting activity on the sidewalk will take some time. Start by honing her basic obedience skills at home, making sure she will respond to your commands. On your daily walks, have her sit and stay at random times. When a jogger approaches, move to the side of the walk, and have Sandy sit and stay. (Of course, keep her on a leash at all times during walks.)
Next, teach her not to react to sudden movements. At home, put Sandy on a leash. Throw a tennis ball across the room or hallway and say “Off!” or “Nyaah!” When Sandy leaps to chase the ball, tug the leash firmly and repeat “Off/Nyaah!” When Sandy responds to your command, praise her.
Repeat this exercise in other locations, indoors or out, with few distractions. Try it with other objects, or a willing friend who can play the “jogger.”
Finally, add the command during her daily walks — when a person approaches, use the command if she starts toward them. You may need to sit Sandy down at first and wait for the person to pass, giving the “Off/Nyaah!” command if needed. But gradually begin training her to obey this command from the heel.
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