On Leash Aggression, Part I

A common problem among dog owners, and can be quite embarrassing when your dog lunges on leash at another dog or human. Many owners say, what a big difference they have with their dogs off leash and on leash behaviour. This in itself offers a clue to the problem as well as the solution. Recognize that on leash aggression always involves unintentional signals from the owner which create a vicious cycle.

Here is a typical scenario of teaching on leash aggression:
I get a new puppy and am walking it down the street, everyone wants to say hello and allow the puppy to jump up on them. “She’s so cute” they all say and I agree, so continue to let it happen. I also allow the pup to pull me along where ever she wants to go. As the pup gets bigger and older I get frustrated and pull back on the leash and get mad, my voice and body get tense and I start to hold my breath so as not to lose my temper. Now my puppy is 18 weeks and we have met a number of dogs who seemed to be okay with my puppy jumping on them until a week ago. When the first dog growled at my puppy I let it happen and thought it was okay for my puppy to lie on its back and submit. The next time a dog did this I got scared and pulled my puppy out of harms way. Now when I see another dog I get tense and hold my breath hoping this dog doesn’t hurt my pup. I start to sense not many dogs like my puppy but she still wants to see them and is struggling to go say hello. I am still scared, but figure the puppy knows who will harm her, so allow her to go say hello. Again she gets told off and I yank back on the leash and yell at the dog to get off my puppy. I then take my puppy and hold her close and ask her if she is “okay”. Then I tell her “it’s okay”, (I think she did well by not fighting back and rolling on her back). Now every time we go for a walk and I see another dog I pull back on the leash and hold my breath while crossing the street.

Donna Hall

Leave a Reply