Dr. Ian Dunbar wrote a Q&A for Modern Dog magazine regarding dog attacks and dog fights. Unfortunately, until Portland dog parks start providing pig boards to separate dogs, the most actionable advice is to teach your dog not to rile up other dogs, and not to respond when other dogs antagonize him.
But how do you teach your dog to “sit, shush, and watch me”? This was my question, considering that my dog has really only nailed the first of the three.
It turns out the trick to “shush” is “speak” – once you’ve trained your dog to bark on command, he’s in the unique position of being calm while he’s vocalizing. It’s only after your dog has achieved this zen state that you can now teach him “shush” – a request/lure/response/reward loop that Dr. Dunbar has written about at DogStar Daily.
For “watch me”, I’d always wondered how you go from holding the treat up to your face to getting Jake to watch me when the treat is somewhere else – the curse of the food-motivated dog. I found the best version of the steps required in an eHow article, but the critical step is consistent regardless of where you learn this: waiting until the command is understood, then making food the reward instead of the lure.
It seems like a great deal of preparation for something that may or may not ever happen. But having seem the results of a dog fight gone out of hand, I’m more than willing to do my homework this time.