Apr 03

Training my dog to socialise

My Lakeland Terrier has started to become aggressive towards other dogs, here is my training plan and diary of how I get on training my dog to socialise happily again.

Training my dog to socialise

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The hope of the dog training will be to let Toby socialise with other dogs and regain his focus on me until I release him to go play.


I have a Lakeland Terrier dog called Toby who, up until several months ago was a very jolly little chap. He would gladly socialise with all dogs, often running around and playing chase. Toby is a chasee, he would rarely do the chasing.

Toby would be off his lead for the majority of the walk, I would only need to restrain him if I saw a dog on a lead in the distance or we were approaching a road/badget sett/fox etc, you get the picture.

Recently however Toby has started to be aggressive to random dogs. He can meet a dog, socialise for a while then snarl and lunge at the other dog. The other dog doesn’t have to show any signs of domination or aggression, but Toby will take exception. Toby’s aggression is also unpredictable. On a typical walk he may meet 20 dogs, one day he may be friendly to them all, another day he may lunge towards just one, on another day he may have an issue with almost all of them.

What changed?

I’m not sure is the quick answer. Am I handling him differently, am I telegraphing anxiety to him, does he feel he is in charge of the walk, has he become pack leader? Lots of questions I asked myself but honestly I can’t pinpoint a change. A common reason for aggression in dogs is down to pain, dogs hide pain from us very well but to protect this weakness will guard the root of the pain actively. Again I drew a blank, apart from his usual cuts and scrapes from daily terrier life he is fine.

So what’s the plan?

Training. I am going to try and regain his attention on me so when I call him he gives me his full attention and not the other dog (or whatever else may take his focus such as a scent).

Here is a step by step process of how I plan to train Toby

Doing this I hope that Toby will associate me calling him with good things, if all goes well I expect him to come and look me in the eye to receive praise.

After Toby has learnt this I will repeat the process in other locations, eventually I expect to be able to use this on a dog walk when there are lots of distractions. The ideal outcome would be for Toby to be so used to me calling him for attention when he sees another dog that it becomes his natural reaction to focus on me when another dog approaches. I have no idea how long it will take to get to that stage – if ever but that is what I am aiming for.

I want my jolly little dog back, he will be happier and so will I knowing that we can go for a walk without fear of any conflicts.

What do you think to the above? Is my plan a good one or will I be better focussing my efforts elsewhere? I am not a dog trainer but am simply sharing the problem I am having with Toby and how I am going to try to train him. I’ll update the blog with progress reports – good and bad. Leave a comment, let me know your thoughts.

3 Responses to “Training my dog to socialise”

  1. Sue Mackie says:

    Sounds like my lakie, Rosie! Still have issues, but mainly puppies and dogs that are picked up, i just keep going back to basics, recall is disrupted by furry feathered things and she has a love hate relationship with labs, despite regularly staying with one. we have just moved house and next doors dogs jumped over toto say hello, aL fine…definitely worse on lead, I now put myself between her and other dogs when on the lead,

  2. Chris Norton says:

    Sounds like you have quite a well thought out plan to get Toby interacting with other dogs again. How is the training going?

    • Play Fetch says:

      Thank you Chris, he is doing great so far. We still have a random issue with black labrador puppies but for the most part he is back to his happy sociable self. I am very pleased with his progress, he has proved to be a little star.

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