How to Handle Your Aggressive Dog on Walks
Taking your pup for a long scenic walk is one of the many joys that come with being a dog parent. Not only does this give your dog a chance to stretch his legs, use his nose to absorb all the different smells and release pent-up energy, but it also allows you to catch your breath while enjoying a moment. bonding with your four-legged friend.
However, if your dog barks, growls and lunges at other dogs when on a leash, it can make your daily walks extremely stressful. Leash aggression can be dangerous for both dogs and potentially a huge liability, forcing some to reconsider walking their pup (and when our dogs don’t get exercise it can cause a whole host of problems in the home ).
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to reduce your dog’s unwanted behaviors. But it’s important to understand that there is no easy solution to dog-to-dog leash aggression. Instead, it’s a comprehensive training process that requires time and patience on your part. It’s equally important to recognize that your dog isn’t “bad.” Most of the time, this type of aggression stems from fear rather than a desire to fight.
Related: When Walking Your Dog, Beware Of These Dangers
Buy the right equipment
If your dog is on a traditional collar and leash while on walks, the constant pulling and lunging can significantly reduce your sense of comfort and control. Although shock and prong collars seem tempting to buy, they can lead to down-the-line negative repercussions such as injuries such as heart fibrillation, burns or pain.
“A front-clip harness is the preferred choice of modern dog trainers because it reduces pulling without the dangerous side effects of a prong collar or choke chain,” says Certified Dog Trainer Torie Silletto. and owner of Diamond Dog Behavior and Training in Portland, Ore. She adds that prong and shock collars can have unintended consequences. “If a dog feels spikes squeeze his neck [or a shock] every time they see another dog, they develop an aggressive reaction because other dogs now predict pain. Spawning another dog toggles its fight or flight switch. Aggression is now worse.
She adds: “Hurting and frightening dogs to train them exacerbates fear and aggression. Period. Don’t make this mistake.
If you are concerned about your pet biting, it is essential to take the appropriate precautions. Consider conditioning your dog to wear a basket muzzle. This type of muzzle allows your dog to breathe easily and receive treats.
You can also invest in a vest, bandana or patch for your dog’s harness that reads “Anxious Dog”, “Do Not Pet” or “Hostile Dog” to let people know that it is not acceptable that their dog approaches yours.
Related: How to Give Your Dog an Awesome Sniffle Walk
Avoiding Possible Triggers
“When dogs growl or show aggression, they’re telling the scary thing to go away. If the scary thing doesn’t go away, the dog will try harder, which can be dangerous,” says Silletto. “Avoid aggression on walks by protecting the dog from fear in the first place. This is done in two ways: understanding their body language and keeping other dogs at a distance that doesn’t elicit a fear response. »
In terms of body language, a relaxed dog will have a loose body and will swing its butt during the walk. An uncomfortable dog will become immobile, display a hunched body, tucked ears and tail, a wrinkled forehead, and a clenched jaw. Additionally, they yawn, lick their lips, or show the whites of their eyes.
One way to discourage aggressive behavior is to simply avoid putting your dog in situations that will cause growling and jerking.
There are a number of tactics you can try, including walking your dog at times and places that are less exposed to other puppies. If you see another dog walker, cross to the other side of the road or turn around. You can also consider bringing a friend with you on your walks. Place your dog between the two of you to create a barrier so your dog feels more secure.
You can also distract your pup by using high value treats, like his favorite treat, boiled chicken breast or cheese, to keep him focused on you when a dog passes by. Put your dog in a sitting position, get between him and the other dog and praise him when he doesn’t react.
Get professional help
Dealing with dog aggression is not an easy task. It takes knowledge, patience, time and the ability to recognize a dog’s stress signals. Getting help from a professional trainer can ensure that the correct training implementations are used while promoting safety.
“Treating fear-based aggression is a complex and delicate process,” says Silletto. If a dog’s aggressive episodes are increasing in frequency and intensity, adding stress to their daily life, or impacting their well-being, the problem should be addressed with the help of a trained professional.
Additionally, Stilletto recommends avoiding trainers who use aggressive training methods when working with your dog.
“This is important: dog training is an unregulated industry with a huge disparity in quality and levels of knowledge,” she says, adding, “There is a huge misconception that aggression has to be handled with a heavy hand, thanks to TV shows featuring old-school training methods.”
Your dog doesn’t have to be locked in the yard all his life. You can teach your pet to behave politely on walks with patience, persistence, and time.
Related: 3 people dog walkers avoid like the plague
This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, and is not intended to be, a substitute for professional advice.