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How do I stop him running towards other dogs?

(Q) I have a Deerhound-cross, who’s six years old. He’s good natured and very sociable with people and dogs. I let him off the lead when we go to the woods and I always reward him when he comes back to me. However, if he sees a dog he runs straight over to greet him. Is there any way I can stop him from running towards other dogs?

(A) Behaviourist Claire Arrowsmith says: Mixing with other dogs is extremely tempting for a sociable dog. However, it’s not always suitable, especially with such a large dog. It’s likely that your dog understands that coming back to you is worthwhile, but not when there’s such an enjoyable temptation as meeting another dog.

You will have to practise with a long line and increase the value of the rewards you offer him for returning. If possible, ask friends with dogs to walk in the same area so you can practise around them. Build up the length of the long line slowly so that you’re always in control. This is particularly important when you’re dealing with a dog of this size.

The benefit of using a long line is that once you’re confident that your dog will respond while you’re holding the line, you can begin to allow it to trail behind him allowing a greater level of freedom. Then, if you need to regain control, you can do so more easily.

Some dogs will still learn to respond only when they are wearing the line, even if you’re not holding it. In those cases, if you’re sure that the recall response is excellent otherwise and the problem is due to an association with the line, you can gradually reduce the length of it over several weeks. Eventually you may end up with just a short length that isn’t much use for training purposes, but which he associates with responding to your call.

The key is practice. Make sure that when your dog gets it right you’re much more exciting than the other dog anyway.

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