Leash aggression is a very general term and it does not describe what behavior is actually happening. What is the dog doing when he is being “aggressive”? Is he growling, barking, crouching, lunging? Is he baring teeth, pulling on the leash, or howling? Is the dog’s tail raised straight up or tucked? There are many details left out when using the term “aggression” because what is actually occurring depends on the dog and the situation.
Aggression can be based on fear, anxiety, frustration, and other emotional responses, or can even be caused by physical pain the dog may be experiencing from a physical illness or hormone imbalance.
If you have not already taken your dog to the veterinarian for a physical, please schedule an appointment and make a visit before beginning any behavior modification program. If your dog is experiencing pain of any kind, this is what may be causing or playing a large role in his/her behavior.
Causes of Leash Aggression
Leash aggression can be caused by several different scenarios. Let’s look at a couple examples.
Dog on-leash aggression can occur when a dog has been corrected for pulling on leash. Corrections, which cause discomfort, create anxious dogs. A dog can begin anticipating uncomfortable situations when other dogs approach because of what has happened in the past. This is called a negative association. After being corrected for pulling towards other dogs to go meet them, a dog can begin to anticipate that another dog means discomfort or pain will occur. While this is not what we intend with corrections, it is an unfortunate side effect.
Leash aggression can also arise from fearful behavior that might not be exhibited when the dog is not contained. This is because a fearful or insecure dog feels confined and knows there are limited escape routes while on leash so they react to keep the scary person or dog away. The outward display of aggression is what trainers refer to as distance increasing behavior meaning the dog wants the scary dog or person to go away.
It can also be cause by the complete opposite emotions! If you have a dog that wants to go meet someone or something, but they are limited by the leash, that frustration can come out through barking and lunging. The leash is a very unnatural object for animals, but it is necessary in today’s society to use them for safety purposes. Teaching your dog how to walk properly on leash is crucial to solving leash aggression problems.
This classroom will help you train your dog how to behave while on leash from the ground up. If your dog is leash aggressive or reactive, be sure to sign up to join the classroom.