Walking Your Dog Aggressive Dog

Walking your dog aggressive dog should not be frightening or even down right disastrous. But for some it is. It doesn’t have to be that way any more.

Before You Walk Your Dog Again


Walking Your Dog Aggressive Dog
Before you walk your dog aggressive dog again and really shatter your confidence, here are 3 “Management Principles” to follow for a more controlled and pleasurable walk with your dog.

Principle #1: Manage Your Dog

If you’ve been walking your dog with the wrong equipment, change it. This is especially critical if you have a large dog that is barely manageable on the leash, which is part of your problem.

“What’s wrong with my equipment?”. If you’ve been walking your big, reactive dog on a flat buckle collar or harness (leash attached top-back) you have no control. Even walking a dog on an Easy Walk harness may be difficult for some owners.

The discomfort of choke chains and pinch collars often cause pain or discomfort when correcting a dog for pulling.

Yanking and jerking on the leash to keep from being pulled might very well cause a negative association with the very dog(s) you want your dog to like.

Change your equipment. Walk your dog on a Gentle Leader. Manage your dog by controlling his head. I have seen big dogs easily managed by small owners with the Gentle Leader. I have also experienced a significant reduction of arousal and anxiety in many dogs while wearing the Gentle Leader.

You must read the instructions and watch the DVD that comes with the Gentle Leader so that you can desensitize your dog to wearing it before using it on a walk. This is not a long process. He’ll be good to go in a day.

Managing your dog also means don’t leave home without high value food treats to make a positive association with other dogs. Also do some obedience training on walks as well. Be prepared!

Be smart too. Invest in a bait pouch to hold your treats so that they are readily available. Don’t be stuffing them in your pocket or have to fumble with a zip-lock bag trying to reach a treat when you need it handy now!

The last thing for now on managing your dog is managing your own emotional energy. Staying calm will help your dog to feel calm on walks with you.

Principle #2: Manage Your Distance to Other Dogs

You’ve heard the saying, “Too close for comfort!” Well that holds true for working/walking your dog around other dogs in the beginning.

Every dog, yours included, has a proximity or distance to a distraction that will cause him to pay more attention to the distraction (dogs in your case) than to you when you are closer than you should be. Stay at a safe distance and work on sits and walking while praising and treating your dog for good behavior.

Backing up a few steps and asking for a sit using a high value food treat for attention is a good exercise. Praise and treat for a job well done. Repeat as often as you can whether you see dogs or not. Practicing on walks with no dogs in sight will help you improve your game when dogs are present.

Only get closer when your dog is under control and listening. If he becomes reactive, simply move back and keep on practicing.

Principle #3: Manage Your Leash

Most trainers know that a dog’s natural instinct is to pull or push against applied pressure. I’ve seen and felt it with our lab, Sammy. He’ll push against me with his body and as I use my hands to push back, he resists by pushing back.

You probably have experienced that with your dog as well. The same thing occurs on a leash walk. When you pull on the leash, your dog instinctively pulls in the opposite direction. That direction is usually towards the other dog.

The lesson here is to keep your leash slack to prevent your dog’s urge to pull. No doubt this will take time to master but including the other principles (managing your dog and the distance) makes all this possible in time.

Do your part for your dog with good management on walks. Keep these principles in mind and make them work for you and your dog. You’ll both be glad you did.

Also remember, the more your dog listens to you inside your home because you have taught him proper manners and boundaries, chances are he will listen to you better outside your home.

I’m always curious about your input – it’s important to me. Do you deal with this situation with your dog?

Comment below with your frustration and fear with this.

Remember: “Together, We Can Raise a Happy and Obedient Dog”

Jim Burwell has been Houston’s most respected dog trainer for 25+ years, serving over 10,000 clients. Jim takes the science of dog training and makes it work in your home with your family and dog. He gives you the ability to get the same great behavior from your dog.

11 replies
  1. client care
    client care says:

    You need to hire a positive reinforcement trainer with MINIMUM 15 yrs experience to help you. This can only be fixed with hands on with a trainer AND you – NO board and train

  2. Shellene Golik
    Shellene Golik says:

    Hi. My name is Shellene. I have a 7 year old PitBull/Lab mix, male. His name is Dillon. We have had him since he was 8 months old. There is a portion of the his brain that is dead due to being beat in the head with a baseball bat by the previous owners. He is extremely dog aggressive. During walks, we have to be alert at all times because he lunges at other dogs. Plus, no matter what we have tried, he pulls & pulls & pulls during walks. He has been in two dog fights.
    Neither of them were his fault. I had him on leash both times & both times the other dogs came running out of their yards, snarling at him. Both dogs were PitBulls. He is very high strung. He has severe anxiety issues. He has severe separation anxiety & hyper attachment to me. You mention distance between dogs. What if it doesn’t matter how far away the other dog is? As soon as he spots it he starts trying to go towards it, growling & barking. And, regarding a lax leash? Any time we relax the leash, Dillon takes advantage of it & goes faster until he’s pulling again. Walks with Dillon are never a relaxing time. We have two other dogs. One is a 13 year old, female American PitBull & the other is an 8’ish Pomeranian, male. We had the female already, when we got Dillon. The Pomeranian kind of just became ours. It took us two weeks to get Dillon not to kill the Pomeranian. Now the Pom rules the roost. Anyway, please help!!
    Shellene Golik

  3. Jim
    Jim says:

    He sounds somewhat bossy. If you develop a relationship of “you ask and your dog gives” by adding structure and consistency to your intereactions with your dog (no dominance, no harshness) then are consistent in keeping that structure your dog will begin to defer to you. He sounds a bit like a spoiled child does when he’s not ready to quit what he enjoys doing. I have many articles on bossy dogs. Here are 3:https://www.petiquettedog.com/thought-outgrow-dog-behavior/ and https://www.petiquettedog.com/living-dog-easier/ and https://www.petiquettedog.com/growling-dog-is-not-love/

  4. Linda
    Linda says:

    I’m having an issue with my 15 month old Great Pyrenees mix that doesn’t seem to fit into ANY category that I’ve searched for. He LOVES other dogs, people, children, you name it..and he is an absolute sweetheart 95% of the time. The issue is that when we interrupt his fun (greeting another dog, turning back for home on a walk, heading downhill towards home on a hike) he begins lunging and biting at us. Or seems almost impossible to get him from an excited state back into a calm state, and this is particularly true when the weather is cool or even cold. In the hot weather he was sluggish and eager to return home to the air conditioning. Aside from moving to the tropics, what can we do? I’ve tried different leashes, collars, training treats, dominance, remaining calm (which is hard to do when your hand is in the mouth of an 80 lb dog), all to no avail. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

  5. Jim Burwell
    Jim Burwell says:

    Robin: try using a Gentle Leader with your dog. It reduces anxiety and gives you way more control. CAVEAT: most dogs do NOT like the strap over the nose SO YOU HAVE TO DESENSITIZEA HER TO THIS. It is a non-aversive walking tool that I recommend A LOT. Be sure to get the brand GENTLE LEADER and most importantly, WATCH the DVD that comes with it and make her world beyond awesome everytime you put it on her while she is getting used to it. She MUST be used to it before you take her out on long walks.

  6. Robin Gordon
    Robin Gordon says:

    I Re Homed a 77lb Catahoula/Lab mix. She is very sweet but pulls me down when walking if something activates her. She is not real dog friendly but will play with my daughters and neighbor dogs a bit. When I walk her on a somewhat rural road she will take off to attack the dogs barking at her behind the fences. I have a bad back and she just pulled me face down again. I never know when this will happen. I hate to give her up as we are such dog lovers and am so afraid she will end up in a bad home. I only weigh about 130lbs and 5′ tall. I used to work with horses but at 62 I just don’t have the strength anymore. It was probably a bad pick and I knew it at the time but am committed to getting her trained. She is about 2 yrs old and wasn’t treated well before. I am at a loss as I now do not feel comfortable walking her anymore. I wish I was younger and had the strength I did when I trained horses. I just don’t and don’t know what to do with her. Very friendly with people and some dogs but she gets out of control when walking. I have scraped knees from so many times and also hurts my back badly. I am thinking of re homing again her but everyone says give her time. I don’t have the time or ability to train her and cannot afford training. What is the best way to train her out of this. She will chase crows, dogs, people and especially dogs at fences we walk by. Thank you

  7. melissa
    melissa says:

    We have rescued a pit. He is a great dog inside outside however he becomes very protective over me. My boyfriend doesn’t have the same problems I do. Maxx will go after other ppl and dogs. Trying to find the right gear to safely walk him. Plz help.

  8. Nancy
    Nancy says:

    Great suggestions all. We had a frightening situation with our 3 dogs recently – fortunately the other dog wasn’t seriously injured. It could’ve been so much worse. We always walk them with Gentle LEaders and try to keep our distance from other dogs (despite other owners coming right up to our sitting but growling dogs saying “my dog wants to be friends with yours”!!…NO WAY!)
    I do take treats along, but clearly not enough – and probably not “high value”.

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