Remain calm around skateboards?

Question:

My dog goes nuts — barking, lunging, pulling on leash — at the sound or sight of a skateboarder. How can I get her to remain calm?

Answer:

Quickly moving bicyclists, skaters and runners can trigger a natural chase response in dogs. Skateboards not only move quickly, but they also make loud noises. Your dog could be alarmed and her response is her way of keeping the thing away.

If you have a friend with a skateboard, you can desensitize your dog to the sight and sound. Discover how far away from a skateboard your dog needs to be in order to show no reaction to it at all. That’s where you want to be with your dog when your friend skates past you. When you first see the skateboard and the dog isn’t reacting, feed treats. (If the dog is reacting, you are still too close.)

Continue to feed until the skateboarder is out of sight and then stop feeding. Practice this many times in a row. Move a little bit closer and do it again. Continue to move a little closer and feed treats as long as your dog isn’t reacting. If you try to approach too close, too quickly, the dog will react. You’ll need to move back again to the point where she doesn’t and start again. If moving forward 12 inches sparks a reaction, try moving just a couple of inches instead. Your dog is the one who will determine how quickly you can progress. Take it slow. You don’t want the dog to react.

You can also be prepared and carry treats with you on walks. Begin giving treats before she is in a full-blown reaction to a skateboard and feed continuously while the skateboard goes by. Train your dog to focus on and take directions from you when something’s “not right” in her environment. Check out “Teaching ‘Watch’ Command” for more information.