By Linda Cole
We’ve all seen the dog that’s pulling on his leash, lunging and barking at other dogs as they walk by. His owner appears to be just as frustrated as the dog. Leash aggression is a common behavior problem created by us when we don’t understand why our normally friendly dog is acting in an aggressive way.
The cause of leash aggression
Leash aggression is a behavior problem that should not be overlooked. When a dog exhibits any kind of aggression, it’s not something they’ll grow out of, and ignoring the problem only makes it worse. The dog’s aggression is created when he becomes excited, frustrated or fearful, and all three are reasons for his behavior. Lack of socialization or proper training can also contribute to leash aggression.
Excitement and frustration
Some dogs become so excited when they see another dog, they try to pull their owner towards the other dog. Off leash, he’s one of the friendliest dogs around, but put him on a leash and he lunges and frantically barks at other dogs or people. What he wants to do is have a “meet and greet” with the other dog, but his leash is making him frustrated. Leash corrections to try and rein the dog in and control him will only add to his frustration. Because he can’t get to the other dog, he becomes aggressive when he hits the end of the leash that’s restraining him from doing what he wants to do.
A dog that is fearful may show signs of leash aggression if they are forced to be closer to other dogs or people when they would otherwise avoid them if they were off leash. Not all dogs enjoy meeting other canines or people they don’t know. Fear can cause a dog to lunge at another dog in an attempt to keep him at bay, and his snarling bark shouldn’t be ignored. In his mind, the fearful dog is trapped by his leash, which causes his aggression.