Your Stress Can Trigger On-Leash Dog Aggression
You may not even be aware that your fear and stress could be your dog’s first clue that something is wrong.
Your emotional state can actually cause on-leash dog aggression in your dog.
Judy was oblivious to it.
With a dog that has had limited opportunities to socialize, she just knew her dog’s reaction to other dogs was scary.
Walking in the neighborhood, her Shepherd/Lab mix, Buddy, would become aggressive on leash.
Especially when they encountered any medium to large size dog. This caused him to bark violently and pull on an already taut leash.
It looked and sounded horrible!
Right now she was walking at night to avoid any possible confrontations.
She desperately wanted to fix her “Buddy” so she could enjoy her walks with him again.
What Do You Do to Ignite Your Dog’s On-Leash Dog Aggression?
Listen. Your physical response to your emotional feelings (fear, anxiety and stress) can be a trigger to your dog.
As much as (or more) as seeing another dog on a walk.
What are your physical responses?
- Your white knuckle grip on the already tight leash for one.
- Sometimes it can be grabbing his collar for better momentary control.
Just knowing about your dog’s on-leash dog aggression is anxiety-producing. Your physical responses begin communicating to your dog the second you step out of the house for a walk.
You’ve already set him up to react at the first opportunity.
Remember, he doesn’t even have to see or hear other dogs. He senses where they are by reading their energy.
Control Your Emotional Responses – Control Your On-Leash Dog Aggression
I know, you’re thinking exactly what Judy was thinking as we worked with Buddy: “What if I find it impossible to totally relax on a walk?
I’m just flat scared!” She was afraid she couldn’t control her sudden intake of breath or pulling back on the tight leash.
If you cannot change your behavior, think about changing “what your behavior means to your dog.”
Change your behavior’s cue for fear to a cue for calm.
Changing Buddy from Being Reactive on Leash to Being Calm on Leash
I told Judy it may take some time it. But it is possible.
She needs to teach Buddy that when he feels her tighten the leash, that’s his cue or signal to stop, turn around and make eye contact with her.
Steps to a Calm Dog on Leash Instead of an Aggressive Dog on Leash
First Judy had to identify and match the physical cues to her stress cues.
For her it was yanking back on the leash.
That’s what happened when she felt a sudden increase in her anxiety.
She knew where dogs were behind fences on her walking route.
Judy would tense up on approach and yank back in anticipation as she attempted to ease Buddy by the dog. This was Buddy’s cue to become aggressive on leash.
Here’s how we changed Buddy’s Leash Aggression
- We taught Buddy that leash-tightening was his cue to calmly look at Judy rather than prepare to become aggressive on leash.
- With Buddy in hand, a 6’ leash and some high value food treats, Judy was ready to learn how to fix the problem.
- We let Buddy go to the end of the leash and when he was almost there, Judy stepped back, felt the leash go tight and then praised Buddy,
- “Yes!” Buddy turned around and saw her extended hand. She then treated him when he came back to her for the treat.
- Her next step was to increase the pressure of pulling the leash tight. Praise, “Yes!” and treat just like she’d been doing before.
- Soon Buddy began to feel the tightening of the leash pull, expect the praise “Yes!” and automatically turn in Judy’s direction for the treat!
- The next step was to give Buddy a “Sit!” command followed by praise, “Yes!” and a treat.
- We also got Buddy to respond to Judy’s hand grabbing his collar. With the same amount of pressure pulling on the collar as with the leash,
- Buddy soon began responding to her hand grab
If your dog is aggressive on leash towards dogs, practice around people first. Get to your goal of quick responses to a tightening leash.
Once your dog is responding :
- Seek out dogs on walks and practice at a successful distance first before attempting to get too close to dogs.
- Work at your dog’s own comfortable pace and distance. Don’t push him to fast to soon.
This /Dog Training Exercise has Other Benefits as Well
Besides teaching your dog to turn to you with slight pressure on leash or his collar, it will:
- Become easier to control your dog on leash when visitors arrive.
- If your dog gets out the front door and a helpful neighbor grabs his collar he will be more likely to give to the pressure.
- Any other place where your dog is handled using his leash or collar: vets office or groomer. He will give to the pressure easier.
Dog training is a process.
Some dogs take much more time than others.
Be patient with your dog and don’t move too fast through any training process.
Work at your dog’s own pace, not yours.
Together We Can Raise A Happy and Obedient Dog
You got your dog for a reason. You wanted to share your life with a happy and loving dog. But now, your dog has big problems and life is not happy.
I can help you get that happy, well behaved dog back no matter where you live. We’ll do private lesson in your home OR we can do private video lessons where geography is no longer a roadblock.