Ask The Dog Walker: Dog Goes Crazy When He Sees Other Dogs on Walks

This week I'm answering questions dealing with how dogs behave when encountering other dogs on walks.

By | Posted: December 5, 2014, 8 a.m. PST

While many dogs ignore other dogs, give a casual sniff or a friendly tail-wagging hello, others don't handle interactions so smoothly.

Not so different than humans really. When my kids go to the playground we see the same behaviors. Some kids walk next to their parents and politely ask to borrow a toy, others are dragging their parents ahead enthusiastically inviting themselves to play with the nearest kid while some ditch their parents to knock other kids off the slide.

Dog Pulling 

So what's a pet parent to do?

Hazel Desoto writes: "What’s the best thing to do when my dogs gets crazy whenever he sees another dog? Howls and pulls to get to the other dog?”

Redirect his attention back to you.  The noise of a squeaky toy or feeding him treats as you pass by dogs refocuses his concentration back to you.

If you repeat enough times, when a dog approaches, your dog automatically looks towards your pocket for the goods or fun toy.  In addition, use a gentle leader or head halter which enables you to pull gently on the leash to redirect your dog’s gaze to you not the on-coming dog.  If all else fails, start howling too.  

Suzy Yue writes: "My dog doesn’t like big dogs or certain dog breeds.  He was a rescued dog. How do I teach him to behave socially or stop growling at them?

In your dog’s defense, growling is normal behavior.  Your dog’s warning that he isn’t interested in interacting which most dogs understand, although there are a few dumb ones.  To encourage him to socialize, enroll him with a dog walking group that only takes two or three other dogs.

The service will place him with an appropriate group of mellow dogs who won’t react to his growling.  If you don’t want to hire a service, walk him through a dog park during off hours when fewer dogs are running around.  Keep him on leash, giving him treats and making it a positive experience.  When a dog approaches, redirect your dog’s attention towards you with the treat.  After a few treats and the other dog most likely hanging out to see if they can get in on the treat action, your dog will calm down noticing the dog’s not a threat.  His growls are most likely fear based opposed to aggression.  He needs reassurance that big dogs and other breeds are not always bad dogs. And that you will keep him safe.

It is important to remember there is no perfect person or dog.  Embrace the flaws, short comings of each dog with laughter, sympathy and understanding.  Have questions about your own dog or want to hear anything specific about dog walking, send your inquiries to


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Autum - 297511   Caldwell, ID

8/9/2015 6:14:16 AM

Great article! Useful information :)

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Kristina   ypsilanti, Michigan

12/9/2014 11:14:06 AM

My rescue dog, a 4 yr old beagle/ jack russle mix, loses his mind at the sight of another dog. I have tried everything from a pinch collar to a nose lead and nothing works. He is food motivated but refuses to take a treat, even his favorite ones, when having a snit. I am completely out of ideas. Any suggestions?

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Eileen - 249708   Port Perry, ON

12/8/2014 9:20:23 AM

I totally understand this article. My dog likes most dogs and she walk great on a leash however there are some dog she reacts to, she give a bark and gives them a warning but if they do not back off and come into her space she gets very upset. We have a word 'focus' we use to get her to give us her attention this works but she still need react first then will focus on us. This is a skill still in the development stage.

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