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Training tips for a large dane / mastiff cross when encountering other dogs?

723 Views 3 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  Jen2010

I adopted a Dane / Mastiff cross named Shorty from a local shelter after my Labrador passed away last February and I'm looking for tips / advice on training when it comes to dog encounters when we're out walking together. He's 3 years old, around 6ft tall on his hind legs and weighs just over 70kg so he's a big boy. He's very friendly and gentle towards people and the majority of dogs we have come across and had been regularly socialized at the shelter with other dogs and puppies. Unfortunately a lot of people are terrified of him because of his size. I'll often see other people with dogs who go out of their way to avoid Shorty and I and I've actually had a few people pick up their dogs and run in the opposite direction. I've looked for local dog groups to socialize him but they only cater to people with puppies who are in training. I occasionally run into another lady who owns a Mastiff who Shorty absolutely loves to play with, but due to my work schedule it has been difficult for us to arrange a time to meet at the local park. The problem is that when I'm out walking him and we encounter another dog, he pulls on the leash with the strength of an ox, whinges and becomes difficult to control as he's doing everything he can to get to the other dog to say hello and play which tends to intimidate and frighten the other dog owner. What's the best course of action when it comes to training to help keep him under control when we see other dogs out walking? I understand he's starved for interaction with other dogs, but I'm doing everything I can to remedy that. It's just that his current reaction is making it even more difficult to meet people with dogs who Shorty can play with.


Dog Mammal Vertebrate Dog breed Canidae
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First of all consider that people may not be running away from him because they're afraid of HIM. Many dogs are not fans of on leash encounters with strange dogs, period.

Secondly: He's not starved for interaction with strange dogs. He's been taught he should expect to meet and play with every dog he encounters. This is a bad thing. More play dates and play time with dogs is not likely to fix this.

Work on obedience and focus on YOU when you're out on walks. Use treats or toys, and if he gets ramped up do what you need to do to get him out of there. I find teaching the dog to do a u-turn on command and move away is good. General impulse control (leave it and such) will also help.

No dog/dog interaction at all on walks. If you want to do some play with dogs with him, arrange to meet up in a place and way that allows playtime to happen off leash.

On leash? No interaction with dogs. No sniffing, no meeting, no playing, nothing. Rewards for attention on you, play with you, work with you. If he starts losing it, increase distance until he refocuses on you or at least removes attention from the other dogs and reward then.
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First of all consider that people may not be running away from him because they're afraid of HIM. Many dogs are not fans of on leash encounters with strange dogs, period.
This entire post, but especially this.

If I saw you walking your dog with my reactive dog, I would absolutely either pick him up, move to the other side of the street, turn around and go back the other way, or any combination of those actions. Especially if I saw any indication that you didn't have full control of your dog (the pulling). I would do this whether it was a large dog or a chihuahua as my dog is reactive and I am his ambassador. It's my job to keep him safe and to not put him in situations that may cause a reaction, unless I am specifically prepared to work on his reactivity in that moment - and when I am actively working on his reactivity with him, I tend not to use large and unruly strange dogs I find on the street.

People who allow their dogs to approach other dogs while out on walks are a problem. They are a nuissance - the owner, not necessarily the dog. It is rude. You should always keep a reasonable distance and if you really want an interraction, always ask, and don't ask while you are already approaching (or being dragged). But on-leash greetings are egregious in almost any scenario I can think of. Dog walks are not for socializing. They are for exercise and mental stimulation.

If you're really super concerned about your dog being lonely, think about getting another dog, if you can afford it. Or like CptJack suggested, try to find some appropriate playamtes for your dog. I'm not an advocate for dog parks, but you could potentially put up a posting with an email asking if anyone would like to get together for a 2-3 dog playgroup or hike somewhere that it is safe to be off leash. If you look at meetups(dot)com you may be able to find a dog walking/hiking group near you.
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I agree with what the others have said.

Work on loose leash walking and focusing on you.

You might consider doggy daycare if you think he really needs to interact with other dogs.
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