The term leash aggression is used to describe dogs that bark, lunge, pull, and carry on, in a reactive and escalated state, toward another dog (or person) while they are attached to a leash. These type of intense behaviors usually don’t exist when the leash is absent from the equation; it’s very possible for a dog to be friendly and playful at a leash-free dog park and still show signs of leash aggression on walks. There are several causes and reasons why dogs are leash aggressive, here are a few.
Frustration – Dogs that typically are given free run of everything (backyard, every room in the house, doggy door, never crated) are very rarely denied the ability to move where they want, when they want; there is never the need to practice self-control. These dogs show signs of leash aggression when seeing another dog because the leash is physically restricting them from greeting the other dog. This frustration displays itself in this big display of lunging and barking in attempts to greet the other dog. It is not recommended to intro two dogs on leash if one is leash aggressive.
Poor Socialization – Dogs that have not been exposed to a lot of dogs, people, and places at young ages tend to have leash issues. The lack of socialization makes the sight of a new dog a very exciting and intense occurrence, all that excitement overwhelms the dog because they have never had the chance or been taught how to deal with it.
Lack of a Structured Walk – Walking with your dog while they are in a heel (position relative to your body, slack in the leash, attention forward, etc) helps keep the dog focused and non-reactive. This makes passing other dogs and people a non-issue because there has been structure and self-control before, during, and after you pass another dog. On the other hand, dogs that are constantly pulling and walking far ahead of their owners are free from control and are already amped up, guess what happens when another dog comes into sight?
Window Barking & Fence Fighting – Constantly staring out of the window and barking at every dog that walks by or running the fence line in the yard with the neighbor dog can also add up to leash aggression. If your dog’s main interactions with other dogs are through a fence or at the front windows, how do you think they will react when seeing one on a walk?
Stay tuned to our blog for our next article that will go over some helpful tips on dealing with leash aggression. **UPDATE – that article can be found here**