Why is your dog obsessed with other dogs.
Written by Louise Glazebrook
Is it ok for my dog to be fixated by other dogs

The simple answer is that most other dogs that want to play with your dog will be offering your dog a great deal of fun. That dog playmate provides your dog with bodily contact, physical play, perhaps chase elements, mouthing and interaction – so your dog has learnt that (most) other dogs = where the fun is at.

The other reason can be for some older dogs or rescue dogs, is that other dogs can provide them with a safe space. If they have grown up on the streets, in shelters or travelling with them, being around dogs is familiar and how they have been raised so it feels safe and they may gravitate to them to help themselves. Which is totally understandable and for many rescue dogs, we may need to encourage this if they have people fear related issues. But that is an entirely different topic.

Is it ok for my dog to be fixated by other dogs?

There is a difference between your dog enjoying other dog’s company, having playmates and being sociable and a dog that is obsessed by other dogs.

How do you know if your dog is obsessed by other dogs?

  • They are scanning the horizon for other dogs all the time
  • They bolt off and don’t come back to you when they see one
  • They will run off and into any dog they see, even if its on lead and does not want to play
  • Your dog isn’t listening or looking to you for any direction or help, they just have one thing on their mind – other dogs
  • You are having to keep them on the lead all the time as you feel that ‘you can’t trust them’

These could be just a few examples of how you might describe a dog that is becoming or has become too interested and fixated on other dogs in the park.

This kind of ‘fixation’ is something that we do need to work on and address and put consistent training and efforts into. Because if you leave it to keep building your dog could end up being injured (running into a dog that does not want to play) putting themselves in danger if you cannot get your dog back but also, for example, if I’m walking along with my baby in a buggy and my dog on lead trotting next to me, the last thing I need is your off lead dog throwing themselves into my path and making my life tricky and potentially endangering my ability to hold my own dog and the baby I’m pushing in the buggy. 

The UK law states that a dog should be under control. And if you cannot control your dog then it could be described as ‘out of control’ and you could face prosecution. There have been cases of dogs who have been running into other dogs and in their doing so have knocked a pedestrian or cyclist down and caused them extensive injury, these owners have been prosecuted.

What can you do if your dog is becoming or is obsessed with other dogs?

The first thing would be to find and start work with a dog behaviourist, like the kind of work that I do. To help my clients create a plan and tailored path forward to change this behaviour. 

The second things are to be managing and setting your dog up to succeed, this could look like:

  • Keeping your dog on a well fitting harness and 5m long line. And holding onto the long line, not just dropping it and hoping for the best!
  • Walking in less dog dense areas so that your dog has less opportunity to keep reinforcing the behaviours you don’t want to discourage
  • Being equipped with items that your dog likes, loves and wants – these can vary from treats to toys depending on what motivates your dog (read the chapter in my book on how to motivate your dog – The Book Your Dog Wishes You Would Read)
  • Consider what your dog walker or dog day care is providing and if they are encouraging and allowing behaviour you actually don’t want. If they are, you may need to have a chat or find another person to work with, as it can have a huge impact.

The most important thing to remember though, is that it is your responsibility to make sure your dog does not impact any other dog or their owner or the general public in a way that makes them feel threatened or that your dog is out of control. And if you need help to figure out how to do this, do reach out to a dog behaviourist you trust and whose methods you really like and want to be part of your dog’s life. Simply putting your dog on a choke chain, telling them off and reprimanding them is not dog training or dog behaviour work. It is simply bullying.

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Need help with your adult dog?

Whether you’re considering getting a rescue dog, or have a change in your life that you and your dog need help with, I can support you. 

 

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