What are your tips for dealing with leash aggressive dogs?

asked 2015-12-03 09:26:13 -0500

I have had a few dogs recently who have been aggressive towards other dogs when on walks. They do much better off of the leash at the park and socialize well with others. Until, I put them on the leash. It's almost like they become territorial or something. Any tips or advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

edit edit tags flag offensive close merge delete


1.When you are lazy, avoid routes with dogs! If you aren’t going to be a good trainer, don’t allow your dog to react–and thus unravel all the work you are doing. (It’s like a smoker who picks up a cigarette again!) 2.Practice “Fido, look!” every chance you get, NOT just when faced with other dogs.

Lindsey J.'s profile image Lindsey J.  ( 2017-02-23 16:38:21 -0500 ) edit

6 Answers

Sort by » oldest newest most voted
answered 2015-12-03 10:05:22 -0500

First things first - Remember that any punishment (yelling, jerking the leash, grabbing the dog, etc.) adds to the dog's anxiety level. Most likely, the dog will try even harder to keep other dogs away to avoid such trauma.

Here are some steps that can improve the quality of your walks:

1- Work on getting his attention before you go out. Say his name and reward him for looking at you. Start in a low-distraction environment (like your living room) and gradually move to busier areas, only continuing when you can get the dog's attention no matter what. You are teaching him to look at you comfortably regardless of the environment.

2- Start at a distance from any dogs: wait until your dog notices them, and immediately get his attention and reward. Do not wait for him to react! You are teaching him to associate the presence of other dogs with something wonderful. When he looks up at you for more, go closer and repeat.

3 - If the dog barks and lunges at the dogs, you went too far too fast. Add more distance and repeat. DO NOT PUNISH FOR BARKING!

4- Manage the environment for everyone’s safety. Keep a comfortable distance from other dogs, don’t allow others to greet (at this time), and don’t allow others to invade the space.

edit flag offensive delete link more
answered 2017-02-23 16:54:00 -0500

Your body language tells your dog a lot. Dogs are extremely observant, and are always watching us. If you see someone coming towards you with another dog, and you start tensing up (shoulders go rigid, breathing differently, voice pitch changes, standing completely still, etc.) your dog will notice and it will put him on edge. So that's something to keep in mind. Keeping a loose, confident movement to you and ignoring other dogs can help your dog follow suit. My understanding is that when a dog is leashed, they feel constrained and are basically put into a position where they cannot size up and greet another dog the way they would naturally. If you note the way your dog greets other dogs off leash, they usually approach each other to the side, and sniff bottoms. They don't approach each other head on, face to face, as they may be forced to do while on leash. This is a very aggressive, dominant approach in doggy-world and this alone can cause aggressive behavior. If you can allow your dog to get a good back side sniffing and keep the dog's fronts away from each other, that can help a lot too. Another thing that you can practice, is teaching your dog to be okay with other dogs in the area by getting their attention on you whenever another dog walks by. The best and easiest way to do this with some more control, is if you can get a friend and their dog to practice with you. Walk by each other several times from opposite sides of the street, and each time their dog is walking by, distract yours with treats. When your dog can be calm with the other dog walking nearby, praise them like crazy and give them plenty of treats. A really great resource for me was Patricia B. McConnells' book "The Other End of the Leash". She's an animal behaviorist that has worked thousands of cases, helping people with their dog's and studied dog behaviour and psychology all over the world. Her book is a fun, easy read, and extremely informative :) Hope this helped a bit - best of luck!

edit flag offensive delete link more
answered 2017-02-23 16:52:31 -0500

First make sure you have a leash on a chest harness not on a neck collar and also make sure if its right type, just regular strap kind is good not like a thick leather or a steel chain. Try parallel walking with other dog on leash at a large space area, in the beginning start with far enough distance that your dog can walk calmly, and keep walking parallel with other dog and eventually lower the distance, practicing this many times will reduce the aggression. Hope it helps!

edit flag offensive delete link more


Won’t chest harnesses increase the likelihood that a dog will pull?

Ashley T.'s profile image Ashley T.  ( 2022-07-08 08:37:50 -0500 ) edit
answered 2017-02-23 16:32:39 -0500

Loose leash, light lead. Confidence. An understanding before you leave the house. © -Jeremy Duffy-

edit flag offensive delete link more
answered 2017-02-23 16:18:04 -0500

Agree with above and treats can be a great motivator to break his focus from other dogs.

While it is not my go-to method, I have seen some luck with using portable water squirters in order to break the dogs fixation on other dogs.

Marie S., M.S.Ed

edit flag offensive delete link more
answered 2022-06-15 10:04:12 -0500

This is not meant to negate any of the other great advice given here, but more to offer some insight. I often walk several dogs at once in a city environment, I think often leash aggressive dogs see you, and other dogs you're walking them with, as a pack. Packs have hierarchies. Hopefully, the dog views you as the alpha. If the dog is to the side of you or in front of you he may see it as his function to protect. Anytime I'm walking an otherwise friendly leash aggressive dog and see another dog approaching, I calmly stand far to the side with the aggressor behind me, no tension on leash but no leeway to come forward of me either, allow the other dog to pass by then praise good behavior.

edit flag offensive delete link more

Your Answer

Please start posting anonymously - your entry will be published after you log in or create a new account. This space is reserved only for answers. If you would like to engage in a discussion, please instead post a comment under the question or an answer that you would like to discuss

Add Answer