It is the time of year where we see monsters, ghosts, and other creatures decorating the yards of our neighbors. Do you ever feel like your dog fits in with these scary creatures on your walks? Lunging, barking, and nipping at other dogs or people? Leash aggression is a common problem amongst dog owners. Sadly, it can make walks dreadful for both you and your pup. Oftentimes your dog will be perfectly well-behaved at home, showing little aggression at all – and then once you get him on a leash, that all goes out the window. You don’t want to go through each walk having to avoid all other people or pets, so we have a few tips to help answer the common question: how to stop leash aggression in dogs.
What is Leash Aggression?
If you’re not sure whether you are dealing with a dog with leash aggression, there are a couple key things to look out for. Do you find yourself asking – how to stop your dog from barking at other dogs? Or does your dog often lunge and get out of control at the site of another dog or person on walks? Do you purposefully avoid other human or pet interaction on your daily walk? If the answer is yes, you are likely dealing with some sort of leash aggression.
What makes dogs aggressive on the leash?
There have been studies done to try and determine what exactly causes this type of aggression in dogs. A University of Arizona study found that there may be a link between the hormone vasopressin and leash aggression. Looking at very aggressive dogs compared to non-aggressive dogs in a couple different scenarios, they found that the aggressive dogs tended to have much higher levels of vasopressin.
Your dog could have also been through a prior experience that causes him to be aggressive on the leash. Whether they were attacked by another aggressive dog, or a previous owner caused them to become more aggressive. Sometimes there may have even been an innocent instance when they were a little puppy that scarred them. If your dog is overly aggressive, it is important to go through some sort of leash aggression training to make things easier for both you and your pup.
Leash Aggression Training Tips
- Know the triggers. Figure out what makes your dog start to become aggressive and uncomfortable. Is it small dogs? Children in strollers? Men with large coats? Keep a closer eye on what tends to be the trigger and that will help as you start to train them.
- Be prepared with the right equipment. You can eliminate shock collars, prong collars, or choke collars and simply use a good no-pull harness to control your pup. Use the right leash as well, a flexi-lead leash may not be the best option while you are in the training stages. Don’t forget to bring a treat pouch full of high-quality treats!
- Change their focus. Instead of focusing on the passing neighbor dog, get your dog to focus on you. Bring some high-grade, delicious treats with you (not the stuff you routinely give him at home, the good stuff) and as soon as another dog comes into sight have a call to give your dog and place a treat right in front of their nose. Keep giving them treats until the dog is out of sight. If you keep this up, your dog should know to look to you for treats when another dog comes in to sight instead of putting all of their focus and aggression towards the other pup.
- Don’t get angry. If you tighten up the leash, brace for the interaction, or even raise your own voice, your dog will only follow suit and become anxious and aggressive. As hard as it may be, you need to trust your dog - stay calm, relaxed and keep the leash loose. Your dog will stay much calmer when they see that you are not fazed by the upcoming interaction.
Dealing with a dog with leash aggression can be a very frustrating experience and it does take time to train them to react otherwise. Try to be as patient as possible and learn to trust your dog throughout the process. Learning and training for how to stop leash aggression in dogs takes time.
As a supplement to the training described above, check out the hemp wellness products from Therabis. The Calm and Quiet product will naturally help to keep your dog calmer all the time, so the monsters and ghosts in your neighbor’s yard are the only things scaring people on your block.