7 tips against leash aggression in dogs

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7 tips against leash aggression in dogs

Leash aggression in dogs can take various forms and degrees of severity. For the owner of an aggressive dog on a leash, the walk quickly becomes an absolute stressful situation when another dog appears in the distance. Because in particularly severe cases of line aggression …

  • … the dog freaks out completely at the sight of another dog
  • … jumps on the leash with all his strength
  • … is just difficult to hold
  • … growls and barks.

You can quickly get into situations here in which it makes sense to be familiar with the current legislation relating to dogs.

Some dogs only react aggressively to leash with certain dogs (distinctive color, size, specific gender), with others they are completely relaxed. Dogs that are friendly to other dogs in the open air and play friendly with them can also look like a different dog on a leash.

In the long run, the aggressiveness of the leash can become a very stressful problem for both dog and owner. In order to stop the dog’s leash aggression, the cause of its behavior should first be clarified.

Dogs that are aggressive on the leash are often changed when they run free. © adobestock.com/Robert Petrovic

Causes of leash aggression in dogs

There can be very different reasons for the dog to develop leash aggression. It is not always possible to find out which experience was so traumatic for the dog that it began to defend itself massively against other dogs on a leash. These are the main causes of aggression towards other dogs:

  • Bad experience on a leash: The dog was bitten, hurt, is very scared and has linked this traumatic experience with meeting another dog.
  • Lack of experience: The dog has had little contact with other dogs so far, he is insecure and feels restricted by the leash and threatened by the other dog.
  • Frustration: The dog really wants to go to the other dog, sniff him and play with him. Because he is not allowed to go, he reacts more and more aggressively (often the trigger for leash aggression in young, very playful dogs).
  • Transmission of mood: The dog handler is tense and fears meeting another dog himself, because he already knows what will come next. The tension is transferred to the dog.
  • Breed-typical predispositions: Dogs that are specially bred for guarding and protecting are very territorial and can more easily develop leash aggression.
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However, leash aggression is absolutely not a sign that the dog is malicious.

With patience and practice, line aggression can be defeated. © adobestock.com/Martina Topf

Seven tips against leash aggression in dogs

Once the dog has developed leash aggression, it takes a lot of patience and consistent training to turn it off. These 7 tips can help you:

1. Clarify the cause of line aggression

In the case of line aggression, research into the cause is important. Answer the following questions and write down the answers on a piece of paper:

  • Has the dog been attacked, injured, or bullied?
  • Does he show this behavior from the start?
  • Are there only certain dogs / genders he reacts to?
  • Is he angry only when on a leash or also when he is free?

Write down everything you can think of on the topic. Perhaps when reading through it, enlightenment will come and with it a possible solution.

2. Commands steer from the situation

Reconditioning a leash-aggressive dog takes time and patience. But above all, consistency and education. Think of something for the dog to do instead of tugging on the leash. Sit down, lie down, turn in a circle, give a paw. He should be happy to execute the command and already be able to do it properly.

From then on, with every expression of aggression towards another dog you will immediately hear your sharp “No!”, Followed by a nice request “Sit, down, top, paw …” There are dogs that have the alternative of their own accord after ten to twenty such exercises to offer. Others take longer to link properly: a dog comes, I sit down.

3. Treat other dogs in a friendly manner

Turning a dog’s negative feelings inside out can be a good practice. You need an infinite number of special treats and a keyword such as “Have a look” or “Hmm, delicious”. Then it is important to find routes that offer you enough alternative options, but where there are still dogs in the distance, for example near a dog meadow.

Now they go until a dog appears very far away, and in the same second put the delicacy in the dog’s mouth at your keyword. Then move away. After a few such exercises, you will pass the other dog a few meters closer and work with the code word and bite again. The point: Your dog registers the other dog, who is still too far away for his reaction, and involuntarily associates him with something positive. It can take a while to get through to him: Another dog in sight means a treat.

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4. Stay relaxed yourself

Anyone who has almost been knocked over by their dog a few times because they threw themselves in a harness or collar is nervous on walks and scans the environment for possible dog encounters. The dog assumes the human stress level 1: 1, clearly tenses and prepares for the next attack. A spiral that only you can interrupt:

  • Make a conscious effort to focus on your goal, not the surroundings.
  • Breathe calmly and evenly.
  • Think of something nice.
  • Smile

You will be amazed at the effect.

5. Create more important tasks

Distracting aggressive dogs on leash is exhausting, but in some dogs it also solves the problem. When you go for a walk together, you draw your dog’s attention to yourself. It works like this, for example:

  • Run around trees in pairs
  • Let the dog find treats within easy reach of the leash.
  • If the dog likes to fetch, he should pick something up and carry it before he gives it to you.

Important: The dog enjoys your undivided attention and vice versa. Other dogs become unimportant, only the world revolves around you both now.

6. Avoid serious problems

If two males or two bitches are personally spider enemies, i.e. your dog only reacts aggressively to this one archenemy, all exercises are of no use. This is a special case. It is best to coordinate with the owner of the other dog and avoid each other as much as possible.

7. Ask for support from the behavioral trainer

Special training has many advantages. Dog encounters are never accidental in a fenced area, they are provoked. Special trainers always have a peaceful, nervous dog who reacts to aggression on a leash with equanimity. And they not only observe and treat the dog, but you too. Before you run out of nerves, special training under experienced eyes is definitely worth considering.

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Professional training makes sense with leash aggression. © adobestock.com/oscity

The right harness for aggressive dogs on leashes

The behavior of an aggressive dog on a leash will not change overnight. Even if you try to avoid other dogs consistently, another dog may suddenly appear. In addition to consistent behavioral training, the right equipment can also help you to keep better control when encountering other dogs.

Collar or harness for the dog?

Experts recommend a well-fitting harness for dogs that are aggressive on a leash. If the dog jumps into the collar with all its strength when it spies a conspecific, it can be harmful to its health. At this moment he feels pain and shortness of breath, but does not associate this with his own reaction, but with the appearance of the other dog. In addition, the dog is set up by pulling the collar forward, which is also threatening for the oncoming dog.

The right leash

The leash for aggressive dogs should meet the following requirements:

  • It should be stable.
  • It should be comfortable to hold.
  • It should be a comfortable length.

The dog should be given enough space so that it can sniff in a relaxed manner, but the leash must not be so long that it can start immediately in the event of a sudden encounter with another dog and pull the handler off his feet when he runs up. A flexi leash is unsuitable for dogs that are aggressive on the leash, as it cannot be fixed quickly enough in dangerous situations.

Does an aggressive dog on a leash have to wear a muzzle?

A muzzle can provide security for dogs that are aggressive on the leash and like to pounce on other dogs. In this way, the dog handler can be sure that his dog cannot injure another dog, even if the leash would slip away. Often it is enough that the dog handler is much more relaxed and that this positive mood is transferred to the dog. Before the dog is supposed to go for a walk with a muzzle, however, it must slowly be accustomed to wearing a well-fitting muzzle.

The walk should be relaxing for the owner and dog. © adobestock.com/Lars Zahner