Over Friendly Dog On The Leash

over friendly dog on the leash
over friendly dog on leash

Surely a friendly dog is a good thing? Well, yes, it is but an over friendly dog can create all kinds of problems. This is the dog who becomes crazily excited when they see the trigger, which might be another dog or a person. They begin to lunge at the end of the leash, and they probably start barking and whining too.

Not only can this be really embarrassing for the poor owners, but it can also mean that a walk becomes a stressful rather than an enjoyable experience. And for the dog, there’s the risk that they end up being chased off by dogs who really don’t want to say hello. 

In this guide you will learn:

  • about leash reactivity
  • find out if your dog is over friendly or fearful
  • determine if you over friendly dog is a problem
  • ways to help your over friendly dog
  • 5 exercises to improve your dogs leash behavior

Leash Reactivity

You might associate leash reactivity with a dog who appears to be very worried or aggressive. However, the reactive dog who becomes over-excited when on the leash is also classed as leash reactive. That’s because those crazy, over-the-top behaviors only happen when the leash is on.

This type of response is often called leash frustration; the frustration from not getting to where they want to leads to this reaction. 

Is My Dog Over Friendly or Fearful?

The reactions of the over-friendly and the fearful dog can look very similar at first glance. They’re both making noise, pulling at the leash, and probably causing dog owners to move away!

But there are some subtle differences that will help you to work out what’s going on.

The Over Friendly Dog

These are dogs who become overly excited when they see another dog or person. You’ll be able to spot these dogs by the following body language:

1. forward movement

2. tail up high

3. barking that’s sharp and piercing and whining

The Fearful Dog

When these dogs see the trigger, they either want them to move away or want to move away themselves. Their body language will include:

1. backward movement

2. tail lowered or tucked under their body

3. growls

over friendly dog on the leash

Is an Over Friendly Dog a Problem?

Well, it’s better than a dog who’s not at all friendly.

However, being over-friendly can also create problems.

Oscar was a young and enthusiastic Labrador.

He loved life and everyone in it. He’d rush up to strange dogs he’d never met before, desperate to say hello and start a game. 

He would completely forget his leash manners. 

But Oscar was way too much and over the top in his greetings.

He ignored the dog body language of other dogs trying to tell him to back off and give them space.

Eventually, another dog who had a reactive behavior told Oscar off for his bad behavior.

 Poor Oscar ended up with several bites and a trip to the vet.

While the physical injuries quickly healed, Oscar became extremely defensive around other dogs, his wild leash greetings had disappeared. 

Now, rather than rushing up to other dogs to say hello, he instead became a reactive dog and reacted with an ‘I’ll get you before you get me’ type of response.

Sadly, Oscar’s experience wasn’t unique.

It’s not unusual for an over-friendly dog to get hurt and then become defensive around dogs they don’t know.

Read More: Police Sack Dog For Being Over Friendly

How to help the over friendly dog

The great news is that your dog can learn how to be calmer when on the leash.

You can begin to enjoy your walks and the dog park once more. 

Before you get started on the dog training, here are our top tips for success in helping your leash reactive dog:

1. Reward your dog for appropriate behaviors quickly and frequently

2. Keep your cues consistent with positive reinforcement.

3. Keep the training fun and light-hearted

4. Plan your dog training to avoid delays.

That’s because pauses provide your dog with the opportunity to lose focus and react instead.

The following exercises are all about keeping your dog busy and maintaining focus on you.

Practice them in the home and the yard before venturing out where you may come across your dog’s triggers. 

Aim for five repetitions of each exercise within a training session. 

As well as helping your dog to keep their focus on you, they’re also great for getting you and your dog out of situations in the early days of training.

The aim is to keep a loose lead all the time so make sure that you don’t tug on the leash to get your dog to follow you. 

If your dog is too distracted, try gaining their focus with a treat.

If they have already ‘zoned in’ on an approaching dog or person and refuse the treat, next time, you need to start the exercises when you’re further away from the ‘trigger.’

leash reactivity

Exercise 1 – Changes of Direction

With your dog on a leash, change direction, 180° and walk backward, facing your dog.

Encourage your dog to follow you.

Once your dog turns and is facing you, ask them to sit and then reward.

Exercise 2 – Sits and Changes of Direction

Repeat steps 1-3 of the previous exercise.

With your dog in a sit, turn 90° away and walk away, encouraging your dog to follow.

Aim for a fast-walking pace to catch your dog’s attention.

Exercise 3 – Making ‘L’ Shapes

Walk forward five steps, then turn 90° 

Turn to face your dog and walk backward five steps encouraging your dog.

As they catch up to you, ask them to sit

Don’t forget to reward each sit

Exercise 4 – Changes in Pace

Quickly walk or jog for ten paces

Now walk slowly for five paces

Quickly walk or jog for ten paces

Exercise 5 – Changes in Pace and Sit

Quickly walk or jog for ten paces

Stop and ask your dog to sit and then reward

Now walk slowly for five paces

Stop and ask your dog to sit and reward

With your dog now able to complete each of the five exercises, you can begin to include them during your walks.

Start in areas where you know that there will be few distractions and where you can keep well away from any triggers and unfamiliar dogs.

Once your dog can successfully focus on you in easy environments, you can move on to more challenging situations.

Don’t forget to use lots of rewards and keep the training fun to get amazing focus from your dog.

Read More: How to Train Your Dog Properly

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