HOW TO “TREAT” LEASH AGGRESSION:
A common reaction to dogs meeting other dogs while leashed is often called “leash aggression.” Your dog is telling the other dog to “back off” for a variety of reasons: she’s had a bad experience, lacks proper socialization, or is protecting you.
Most dogs like to be with other dogs (they are pack animals after all), and react more playfully and socially while OFF leash. (Which is why we promote cage-free boarding!)
Sociable dogs will greet each other nose to nose (then butt to nose) with wagging tails.
When dogs are leashed, the encounter is head on with restricted body movement. Everyone tenses up, including you!
Some options to consider if this describes your dog:
OPTION # 1: AVOID THE SITUATION
(1). Walk your dog during off-peak hours when “traffic” is minimal
(2). Pick up her up and shelter her face or cover her eyes
(3). Move to the other side of the sidewalk
OPTION # 2: TRAIN YOUR DOG TO WALK WITH CONFIDENCE
Collaborate with a friend or neighbor. (You’ll need a “control” dog that is confident on a leash.) Prepare “golden” treats in advance (the ultra-special treats your dog really likes and doesn’t get often).
Start with your friend’s dog out of sight and slowly walk toward each other. The minute your dog sees them, generously & successively feed her the treats with praise & pets (“good girl, “good dog”). Keep this up for 5 long seconds, then signal your friend to disappear. At this point, stop the treats, praising & petting. Wait a few more minutes, and repeat the exercise.
Hopefully, your dog will become excited when she sees the other dog (in anticipation of more treats!) and associates the appearance of the other dog with positive results (and the disappearance of the other dog with disappointment).
Continue this process until they can comfortably pass each other. This may take more than one session. Be patient!
You can also try this exercise on public dog paths. Eventually, you want to be able to walk by other dogs without issue.
OPTION #3: BUY A HEAD HALTER OR HIRE A TRAINER
If your dog isn’t motivated by the treat training method or can’t focus on anything other than the other dog (prompting persistent lunging and barking), consider a Head Halter.
A head halter allows you to re-direct your dog’s attention (by turning the head) and refocusing her attention on you.
Instead of giving your dog treats when the other dog appears, re-direct her gaze and call her name. Speak positively and when she looks at you, say “Good Girl!” then “Sit!” Follow with praise, hugs and treats if she complies.
If your dog still can’t walk by other dogs without aggressive reaction, consider hiring a professional trainer. (See our “Partners and Products” tab for local recommendations).
All dogs can learn new tricks, so the time and effort you put into this now will payoff down the road.
Best wishes for wagging tails,