Welcome to the article on over friendly dogs! In the following paragraphs professional dog trainer Jo Laurens shares her thoughts on coping with an over friendly dog. In case your pushy dog is accidentally upsetting the dogs he meets on walks, this informative guide is perfect for you.

There is really a behavior problem lurking in the dog world, which may not have access to a reputation. We’ll think of it as the problem of over friendly dogs.

I'm going to describe it, to be certain guess what happens I'm talking about! It mainly affects very sociable and friendly dog breeds.

The Over Friendly Dog At The Park

Picture the scene: a Labrador has been walked off-leash. Another dog appears. Let's call her Beebee.

The Labrador gallops off towards Beebee, ignoring recalls.

Beebee is afraid of the appearance of the large, highly energetic and excited Labrador who seems like a rocket from nowhere and surprises her.

As the Labrador reaches her, Beebee offers some calming signals towards the Labrador – looking away, or lip-licking.

The Labrador takes simply no notice. So Beebee actively tries to move away or escape. However the Labrador is really energetic, he moves wherever Beebee goes.

The Labrador leaps on Beebee in gleeful, happy enthusiasm, wanting her to play with him. Beebee presently has become quite scared and snarks in the Labrador, to try and scare him off.

Humans tend not to see their dogs being aggressive, now Beebee's owner tells her off.

Was it really Beebee's fault? Pushed into it by the Labrador, who failed to notice more subtle canine communication, Beebee didn't have other option but to escalate the request for space.

Do You've got a Bullying Over Friendly Dog?

Jean Donaldson, in her own book 'Fight', describes canine bullies as dogs which 'bulldoze past the target's shorthand appeasement gestures and threats and often ignore the scaled up versions' (p. 80).

These are dogs which find 'roughness and harassment of non-consenting dogs quite obviously reinforcing' (p. 17).

However, owners usually can't stand the suggestion that their dog is a 'bully'. Human bullies can be 'nasty' and 'mean'.

Owners don't like to think of their dog as 'nasty' or 'mean': Their Labrador is happy and bouncy and enthusiastic. He means no harm and is not planning to scare the other dog, they believe.

My Over Friendly Dog Is A Bully And It’s Embarrassing

Most people are embarrassed by their dog behaving this way, while recognizing his good intentions. The term ‘bully’ is a hard one to accept.

I remarked that using the term 'bully' seemed to generate defensiveness and denial after i attempted to talk to owners.

So I attempted to come up with some alternative and more neutral-sounding labels for this behavior.

I thought about calling it being 'pro-social' or 'excessively sociable' or 'overly-social.’ But nothing really quite fits, and I'm unsure I'm any closer.

However, you now understand what I'm referring to, because I've just described it!

What When your Pushy Dog Do When He Meets Other Dogs?

When the Labrador reached Beebee, if he'd good canine communication skills, he'd have 'understood' Beebee's request for space. He would have stopped his approach, modified it and reciprocated with calming signals of his own, to echo hers.

At that point, Beebee might have been reassured that his intentions were not to squish her. She may have decided to a calm sniffing meet-and-greet, and they might have gone their separate ways.

Or, the Labrador might have figured this dog really wants to remain alone and isn't play material, so he may have decided to leave without meeting Beebee.

The problem arises because the Labrador ignores the signals given off by Beebee, and instead imposes what he wants from the meeting – exuberant play – on her.

The attitude is among 'I don't care what you want – this is exactly what I would like, so this is what we will do. You don't get a choice.'

The Other Part From the Problem With Over Friendly Dogs

There is clearly a recall problem too – because, if the same dog had a well-trained recall, as soon as he headed off for an additional dog, he could be successfully recalled from them.

However, part of the reason for the recall problem in the first place, may be the dog's excessive interest in other dogs – how motivating other dogs are.

If other dogs weren't 'amazing' for this dog, there would not be such a recall problem around them.

So one question is: How does your dog end up being this motivated by connection with other dogs? What happens, in nature or nurture, to 'grow' this type of dog?

Risk Factor #1: Breed Predispositions For Over Friendly Dogs

This kind of behavior is much more common in some kinds of dog than the others. Labradors, clearly, could be impacted by it. But other typically large, energetic, and confident breeds which often love rough play can also are likely towards it.

But not every examples of the breed behave in this way. Some Labradors have excellent canine communication skills.

So what is going on wrong? And just how perform the those who own young Labradors prevent them from becoming an adult to behave such as this?

From this time on, there are no known facts. Everything I only say is conjecture and opinion!

Risk Factor #2: Single Dog Households Are More Likely To Produce Bullying Dogs

Many Labradors which behave in this manner would be the only dogs in their households.

There is a phrase in canine training, which runs: 'Deprivation increases motivation'. That is: Whenever a dog is 'deprived of' something, the dog's motivation for that 'thing' is increased.

The simple example is food: Whenever a dog is hungry, she is more motivated by food like a reinforcer.

Exactly exactly the same phenomenon exists with regards to connection with other dogs: When a dog is deprived of contact with their own species, a 'hunger' can develop for this. This is particularly the situation for a young or adolescent dog.

A puppy becoming an adult in a multi-dog household has other dogs round her, constantly. Far from being 'deprived' of connection with other dogs, other dogs are available whenever, anywhere, for contact.

Some of the most valuable 'learning', here, originates from just lying down and relaxing with other dogs. Sleeping alongside one another. Being 'bored and boring' together!

Often dogs on a walk are therefore only worth a quick sniff along with a move on. They do not become a highly charged reinforcer.

Multi Dog Households

Of course play does happen in multi-dog households, but it happens greatly on the terms of the older dogs.

The puppy learns:

  • Not other dogs wish to play.
  • Even other dogs that want to play don't wish to do all of it time.
  • Other dogs could be pretty boring, really. Most of the day, most dogs sleep!
  • Trying to create a dog play and ignoring subtle communication from them results in being told off.
  • Always be polite when trying to elicit play from another dog, and wait to determine what the response is: 'Ask, don't take' – and the way to 'ask'.
  • Play 'with' another dog, don't play 'at' them. Good play is a reciprocal conversation, not really a monologue.

Obviously, humans have to supervise all of this and never let it rest entirely up to the older dogs If a puppy is pestering an older dog, it's important to step in and provide the older dog space in the puppy.

These lessons are learned gradually and non-traumatically – not in one display of fearsomeness from a mature dog, fed up with being harassed.

Canine Interactions

Canine interactions possess a large potential vocabulary.

Just like a human child learns increasing numbers of spoken words through dialogue with older humans, and gets to be more fluent inside a spoken language, so a puppy's vocabulary increases – if she learns from interactions with well-adjusted older dogs and also at a young age.

A dog that has learned only one 'move' along with other dogs (run their way and gleefully leap in it), is sort of a human who can only repeat a word.

Jean Donaldson describes this as when a dog becomes 'a broken record, repeating exactly the same thing relentlessly and frequently with increasing intensity' (p. 18).

But much of this learning can only exist in puppyhood. Once a Labrador is older, and it has missed this window, giving him experience with other well-adjusted dogs often isn't enough.

Other dogs can attempt to 'tell off' the Labrador, but he often ignores it and continues attempting obnoxious behavior, which is very stressful for that other dogs.

Risk Factor #3: Frequent Rough Play Encourages Dog Bullying

Having read the above, you may are in possession of decided to go by helping cover their your puppy and allow her to play with every dog you discover, with the hope that you will steer clear of the 'deprivation increases motivation' problem.

Many owners do this anyway, simply because they have been told about the need for socialization.

They believe they're doing what's right to allow their young Labrador puppy to play each and every dog she sees. The pup is having a great experience with other dogs, right?

Ironically, this approach could also make the same issue!

How Do These Risk Factors Create Over Friendly Dogs?

If a Labrador develops from a single-dog household, and once each day is removed and meets other dogs for rough play on a stroll, what goes on?

Typically, probably the most exciting thing on the walk becomes other dogs and the Labrador is on the lookout for them!

When a playmate is located (who happens to also enjoy rough play!), the owners stand there and watch their dogs mauling and throat-tackling each other and wrestling.

Eventually owners separate their dogs (who still want more), and go their very own ways.

What has the Labrador learned, in encounters like this?

  • Rough play is wildly exciting and also the most motivating thing around.
  • Rough play is what you 'do' with other dogs.
  • When the thing is another dog, go and get that play!

Once you've learnt that 'deprivation increases motivation', it's easy to conclude that the option would be to give your dog a lot play, he'll get bored of it and wish no more.

Satiety For more than Friendly Dogs

But you need to note here that the dogs within this example still needed more at the point of separation. So – 'satiety' wasn't reached.

They didn't obtain 'fill' of play to the point where the appeal wore off plus they had had enough.

Instead, play stopped at the apex of pleasure and also at the stage where the Labrador will probably remember other dogs as 'wow'.


When I help people who want to create more motivation for tug toys, I counsel handlers always to prevent playing at the apex of excitement and put the tug away.

This way, the dog remembers it as 'that fantastic game we played and that i needed more of it', rather than 'that boring game we played for five hours-yawn.'

In reality, it is difficult to provide play to begin satiety. Another owner typically isn't able to hold back to have an hour or more, and wishes to walk on, after a short while. The play will most likely get stopped at the apex of pleasure.

So frequent rough play will be avoided. Continuing excessive rough play with other non-household dogs outside the socialization period is also to become avoided.

How To avoid A Puppy Becoming An Over Friendly Dog

Wait until your pup has ended the age of 14-16 weeks, and appears to become well-socialized and generally happy and confident.

Now is the time to hugely increase training and control within the existence of other dogs and to decrease frequent rough have fun with other dogs, particularly dogs encountered on walks.

Teach your dog, from puppyhood onwards, that other dogs encountered on walks don't often lead to amazing play experiences. Associate the existence of other dogs, with control and concentrate on you.

Use An extended Line

Use a 10m long-line trailing on your dog, before you know you have absolute responsiveness to cues. Train your puppy in the presence of other dogs.

Your puppy doesn't need to visit and see dogs you spread a walk. But if you would like your Labrador to greet dogs sometimes, put this behavior on cue.

That way, without the cue, the dog should realize that a conference is not going to happen.

Don’t Let Your Dog Greet Every Dog, Every Time

Say 'Go Say Hi' after which permit your dog to greet another dog (assuming another owner consents).

Don't do this each and every dog you pass, or perhaps using the majority of dogs – this is actually the exception, as opposed to the rule.

Have Play Dates For Your Dog At Home

In this way, the 'rough play' idea tends to be associated with a particular setting – your house/yard – and it isn't 'looked for' throughout a walk.

Dogs on walks do not get played with (much) – play dates happen in your own home. (Or in a particular enclosed location which functions in the same manner and has the same 'meaning' for that dog.)

There isn't any substitution for a really well-adjusted and well-socialized adult dog, with regards to raising a puppy and installing excellent social skills.

To some degree, for those who have a single-dog household, you just can't completely compensate for the lack of this. However, you may have family or friends with only this type of dog, and you will have the ability to meet up frequently so the dog becomes a sort of 'grandparent' for the puppy!

I would recommend this is not done on the 'walk', but again that you simply go to one another's houses.

That way, when the puppy becomes too obnoxious for that older dog, it is simple to separate or steer clear of the interaction – not too easy in the center of a walk. The older dog should not be pushed to begin telling the puppy off, do separate before that happens!

My Over Friendly Dog Is A Bully – What Should I Do?

It might be hard to fundamentally change your dog's play-style, personality and communication skills. But it's never past too far to show your pet self-control around other dogs, that will achieve the same thing in terms of a hassle-free existence for you personally.

Rather than me trying to describe detailed training exercises, here, I'd urge you to definitely take a look at 'Control Unleashed', by Leslie McDevitt.

'Control Unleashed' is a system of coaching which concentrates on achieving control around high distractions.

I especially recommend the DVD set called 'Control Unleashed: Games Demonstrations', and also the Control Unleashed Puppy book – even if you come with an older dog.

(It becomes an updated version of the previous book, rather than being specifically for puppies.)

Control Unleashed Games

Once you've installed control button Unleashed games by working them at home and away from distractions, look for a place where other dogs are likely to be on-leash (not off-leash), and passing by.

Pick a distance that your own dog can deal with and still easily react to you at. Make use of your Control Unleashed exercises.

If people make an effort to move closer to you using their dogs, abandon any concern for social politeness and walk off with your pet. This will avoid the complete lack of self-control which will likely arise for your dog when they keep walking nearer!

Over time, your pet can get better at these 'games' and be able to concentrate on you in closer proximity to other dogs.

Other Tips For Over Friendly Dogs

Teach a reliable recall! Pippa Mattinson has a great step-by-step recall training book here.

And I also have a 5 week online Reliable Recall course, which is accessible worldwide here.

Seek out a reputable and accredited force-free trainer and continue, long-term, at training.

When I work with clients whose dogs are just like these, they typically complete just my entry-level 6 week course.

Sometimes, they are so fed-up of having the high-energy 'I would like to get to every other dog' dog at school that they don't even finish the course. It will not be easy, but when you want to repair it, you have to carry on.

Avoiding the problem is not will make it go away! You'll make progress. Every experienced trainer has encountered dogs like yours a million times before, so please don't embarrass myself.

(Tip: It will really help that you should have installed some Control Unleashed skills before attending a group training class. This makes class much more bearable!)

All Dogs Benefit From Dog Training

The great thing about gun canine training is that it is exactly what your dog must learn: To pay attention to you, within an outdoors environment, around other dogs.

For other breeds search for outdoor classes where your dog can learn to interact appropriately along with other dogs. Working Trials and Agility are also good sports to get involved in. But being outdoors is paramount.

Other sorts of obedience and pooch training classes are typically indoors. It is easy for any dog to conclude that have fun with other dogs isn't available in this indoors setting, so there is no point attempting to access it. But they may think that being outdoors equals rough have fun with every dog on the horizon.

Teach your pet this isn't the case, by practicing focus and responsiveness in the very situation that you need it – outdoors, along with other dogs around.