Aggression toward other dogs when on leash.

by Sam C.
(California)


I need advice about my dog. How do I get him to not pull, lunge, and or bark at other dogs when I am walking him? I need help too because I get nervous with him and other dogs. I also notice that when I grab his collar it only makes him more aggressive and at that point he makes all kinds of scary snarling noises.

He is a rescue and I don't know about his past life but he does have various scars on him. I am guessing that he fought because I notice they always pull their dogs to get them worked up. He is generally very friendly and easy going to other dogs. He and my other dog get on great.

Infrequently though she will give a slight growl and he goes straight in to the scary snarling noises. I calm him quickly and it is not usually a problem. Anyway, how to I stop those behaviors when we walk?

Gale's Reply:

Hi Sam:

Quite some time ago, I had a question about leash aggression that was a bit different from yours. And, since that time I've found a resource I really like for dealing specifically with the situation you describe.

Check out the book Feisty Fido - Help for the Leash Reactive Dog by Patricia McConnell and Karen London.

The cornerstone of their method is to teach your dog the "Automatic Watch". That is your dog learns to automatically look at you (and away from the other dog) whenever he sees an approaching dog while you are out walking together.

The book outlines how to do this step-by-step. And it also shows you how to handle special situations--like when a dog seems to appear out of nowhere. At 60 pages it's a fairly quick read and the chapters are well organized so you can get started right away. (There's even an e-book version you can download immediately.)

You say that when you grab your dog's collar, he becomes even more reactive. It seems that something tightening around his neck is a trigger for him. You might want to try a body harness that fits him in such a way that the upper edge rides his chest and/or shoulders rather than his throat.

It goes without saying--but I'll say it anyway--no flexi-leads! You need a regular nylon or leather leash for walks.

Good luck Sam. Please let us know how things are going. Your dog is a cutie pie. What a face! Bless you for rescuing him. He's one lucky dog.




Comments for
Aggression toward other dogs when on leash.

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Jan 14, 2012
Love a harness
by: Julie

Hi Sam.
I use a harness that attaches in the front. When she pulls it turns her around. (Same idea as leading a large animal by the front. Mine is the "Easy Walk".) I like that it doesn't tug on her neck and she learned quickly to walk nicely next to me. That being said there have been times when off leashed neighbor dogs have approached us... if they're friendly she's fine, but if they show any sign of aggression she will lunge. I turn and walk the other direction and ask her to look at me and not the other dog.
I would recommend getting your pup in professional training that uses positive methods. We used clicker training and had good results. I think you have to be on your toes everyday and consistently teach your pup that you know best.
Good luck!

Jan 14, 2012
I feel you
by: Corinna

My dog used to be like that years ago..I remember one time I had to sit on him to keep control of him (he's 100lbs)..walks were no fun..It got easier once I put a harness on him..you could also try a sidelead hraness for the head..It also helped that when I saw a dog coming, I just picked up the pace and didn't slow when we were passing the other dog and didn't react to my dogs behaviour, I just kept walking in a fast pace, like this my dog did not even have enough time to get all hyped up and eventually understood that we do not care about other dogs while on our walk.
He eventually became much calmer about a year after he was neutered, now he just whines a little bit when he sees another dog but keeps walking..
I wish you the best of luck with your baby so the walks can be relaxing and fun for both of you...

Jan 14, 2012
Easy Walk Harness
by: Gale

@Julie:

Thanks for suggesting the Easy Walk harness. I'd heard good things about it. But having no direct experience with it myself, I wasn't sure about recommending it. Another brand with what looks to be the same design is the Sense-ation harness.

Another one that's gotten some good press is the No-Pull Freedom Harness. With it, you have the option of attaching the leash on the front as with the Easy Walk or at the usual place on the dog's back.

Anyone else have a particular brand of harness that they like?

Jan 14, 2012
leash aggression
by: Anonymous

I also had that problem with my Pitbull. I started carrying treats in my pocket & when another dog is approaching I completely divert his attention to me with the treat. I make him sit as well. He has since associated another dog approaching as a reward for him.

Jan 14, 2012
Preventing it before it happens
by: AnastasiaW

What works with my dog is definitely prevention. When we are out on a walk, I scope the neighborhood like a hawk. When I see a dog/cat/squirrel, I call out "attention" and hold out treat to my face. He looks up to the treat (and essentially to me) and we keep walking pass whatever it is that normally would excite him. It takes some practice. So in the beginning, we do a lot of "Attention", then as soon as he looks at me, I gave him a small treat. We did it at home where there's not much distraction, then we move the training to the yard, etc. Best of luck! Your dog is adorabull!!

Oct 07, 2012
Pack leader
by: Anonymous

Quiete honestly,by the time ur dog lunges with aggression he's already given u 10 clear signs he was going 2 do this. What u want is a collar positioned slightly below the ears,look 4 the conversation in his eyes and body language and correct it with a short quick pull and then release on the leash. If that doesn't break the distraction turn ur dog around in a circle type walk and come back 2 were u started. Eventually u will break his fixation that leads 2 aggression and finally,just relax. Stay calm and assertive,don't get frustrated as this will travel down the leash 2 ur dog. Best of luck!

Oct 07, 2012
Thanks
by: Sam C

Thanks for all the great advice. Magnus has gotten much better. I used the trick of sitting him down and feeding him treats when other dogs are present. He barely notices the other dogs anymore. He's a good boy. I love him.

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