Tackling Leash Aggression
This article is courtesy of DogTime.com.
Leash aggression is an extremely common behavior issue faced by many dog-loving owners.
You start on the blissful journey of puppy parenthood, envisioning a future of leisurely strolling with your dog: cup of coffee and newspaper in hand, ready to settle in on a park bench, street café, or just around the neighborhood. Then reality sets in. Lovable Fido often resembles Cujo while on leash.
I feel for owners battling leash aggression. I know they scratch their heads in bewilderment, sometimes even resorting to defending sweet Fido by blurting aloud to passersby, "Really, he's very sweet. He only does this on leash!"
Here's what is going on. Your dog is probably frustrated and anxious. Very likely, he wanted to run after or gain access to whatever he saw while on the street; it could've been a squirrel, other dogs, skateboards etc.
That pesky prohibitive collar and leash however prevented your dog from gaining access to these things and over time, exuberant curiosity was replaced with frustration. Your dog needs to release that frustration and voila, the barking and lunging begins.
"I WANT IT! I NEED TO GO INVESTIGATE! I JUST NEED TO SAY HELLO! WHY CAN'T I HAVE IT?"
It is very likely that your dog's initial outbursts were met with some form of disapproval from you.
"FIDO, NO! HEY! STOP IT!"
The cycle then begins and now Fido begins to also feel anxious. He begins to think that not only do these things frustrate him, but they make Mom and Dad angry!
"HEY DOG! GET AWAY! MY DAD GETS MAD WHEN YOU ARE NEAR! GO AWAY!"
Now that we likely know the why, let's focus on how to manage the behavior.
In any case of aggression, I strongly advise working with a gentle and humane professional to guide you through this process and teach you about the importance of your timing and consistency. Seek a trainer whose methods are firming planted in reward-based training.
You need to develop a more refined replacement behavior for the lunging and barking. A dog that is quietly trotting along your side, staring into your sparkling eyes is ideal. In order to get this going, you need to be a vigilant owner. It is now your job to scout out other dogs before your dog has the opportunity.
You must also be a well prepared owner. You must always be stocked with tasty treats or your dog's favorite tug style toy.
The very second you see a dog (before your dog has the chance to react) you quickly get Fido's attention with a happy voiced, "Fido!" Give him treats or access to his toy as you get close to and continue to pass the other dog. During this time, it's important that you remain calm, happy and refrain from tightening up on the leash. We are teaching Fido that both you and he need to relax in presence of other furry friends. Once the other dog has passed and is at a distance, the treating stops or the toy is put away.
Learning that you are the giver of all good things, your dog will become conditioned to look at you automatically when spotting another dog. This conditioning will also help improve Fido's association with other dogs.
The harness of a draft horse
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