Does your dog go crazy or become aggressive when walking on a leash, and then is the sweetest little nugget the rest of the time? My dogs are totally fine when we are walking in a neighborhood that is not our own. Or at the dog park where all the pups are off-leash. Until we start walking in “their” territory. My dogs flip their leash aggression on and I have to hold on tight for the bumpy ride.
They obnoxiously bark, jump, and scream at the other leashed dogs in our neighborhood. There isn’t even a microphone loud enough to apologize to the other pup’s owner because mine bark so loudly! I know this is just for some type of show, I just couldn’t pin which channel.
I don’t believe they would take their leash aggression out if they somehow broke loose. Honestly, they would probably go over and want to play with the other pup. When we are off-leash, they can space themselves out in the distance they are comfortable with as opposed to being constrained to 6 feet. The leash prohibits your pup to react to any fear. They are unable to remove themselves from the situation.
What is leash aggression?
Leash aggression is when a dog becomes reactive and show signs of aggression when they are on their leash to other dogs. This can be created by a dog’s fear and not having total control over a situation. This leash aggression reaction can also occur with other stimuli. My dogs go crazy when on a leash if there is a cat around! Your dog may do something similar with a human or a car.
Leash aggression is a common problem amongst dog owners, so you definitely are not alone. Lots of times when your dog goes crazy when walking on a leash, it is due to their lack of social skills. So instead of your dog nodding his head hello or shaking another dog’s paw (or just doing the sniff test) they bark or lunge or do something that unfortunately does not convey a great interaction.
Many dog owners typical reaction is to pull their dogs away, raise their voice, and/or try to avoid these type of situations. This reiterates their aggressive behavior and will not teach your dog how to improve their social skills. Here are a few training tips that may help create a positive association with your dog’s leash and their walks.
Read your dog’s off-leash interaction behavior
You must know how to accurately read your dog’s body language – a professional dog trainer could help with this. Off-leash interaction could help you decipher when your dog’s body language indicates play or when it’s any type of tension. Something else could also be happening so it’s important to consult your veterinarian to rule out anything that could be the root of this behavior.
Remove your dog’s leash tension
This is easier said than done. You don’t actually want any tension, so how can you distract and train your dog to focus on something else besides their pulling on the leash behavior? First, make sure you have a sturdy leash where you are able to allow yourself to work on this technique. Bring along the “good” treats – the ones they get for special occasions – not the carrots or the ones they get when they come inside or for training. And then bring them out only when there is an upcoming dog interaction. That will help them learn to look at you when they start their leash aggression. This also provides them something even better than going crazy to pay attention to.
The goal is to have your pup see another dog and then look at you to get rewarded. Change their behavior to positive reinforcement so when they look at another dog they develop a positive association. And give them lots of praise each time they decide to accept the treat instead of going crazy.
Get your dog’s energy out first
Some dogs have an abundantly endless amount of energy – so try and get that out first before expecting them to be on their best behavior. Sometimes they are trying to get their energy out because they haven’t had enough exercise. So before teaching them to reframe their mind with positive reinforcement, make sure they have had an opportunity prior to run around.
Be patient with your pup and don’t give up! They will be able to go for a jog with you and expand their walking repertoire before you know it.