Leash Aggression At Times

Chloe is 2 1/2 years old and she has leash aggression. When we walk by another dog, doesn't matter what size the dog is, she tends to bark and lunge at the dog. If she is off leash she doesn't do it at all.  I make her sit down when I see someone coming towards us (when she is on leash) and try to keep her calm as they pass, but this doesn't always help.  Anyone else have this issue? Any suggestions on how to change this?  I'd love to be able to walk past people with dogs and have no issues. She looks like she is a mean dog when she does this but in fact she is a big sweetheart. 

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  • Hmm my reply disappeared.

    We had a foster with pretty severe reactivity. Her adopters worked extensively with a trainer and her. They recently reported to me that CeCe seldom displays these behaviors any longer.

    Our newest guy gets overly excited when on-leash.  We found that using a bark collar on him allows him to stay calm and enjoy himself.

    • I'm not sure if Chloe feeds off the energy of my two other dogs because there are times she is just fine. this morning there was a loose Golden Retriever at the edge of his yard...really close to the side walk and I was able to keep all of them calm. My lab whined a little, but Chloe didn't do her usual barking and trying to get at the dog. When she is off leash (on trails in the bush) she very seldom has any interest in other dogs that we meet. She will go and say hello now and again, but most time she is happy to walk right past them with her ball in her mouth with no care in the world.   When on leash, I try to keep myself as calm as possible when I spot someone heading towards us and I focus on the dogs and try to correct their behaviour as soon as I spot any of them acting like they are preparing to lunge.  It's been an on going situation for a long time, but it is slowly getting better. 

  • This seems to be quite common.  One of the dogs I fostered had pretty serious leash aggression. Her new owners have worked diligently with her and a trainer and they recently told me that her leash reactivity only seldom occurs nowadays.  Our new guy, Charlie, gets overly excited when he sees new dogs - mostly when on-leash.  We use a bark collar on him - the lazy man's cure I guess, but it allows him to curb his over enthusiasm and enjoy his walks.

  • I find combining the "touch method" and the "roll and restrain" will work. With my older dog Guinness we only had to do the "touch" however with Sprocket we had to use both maybe a half a dozen times. Try not to use in a pattern as Chloe will pick up on it very quickly. IE if she resists discipline with touch 3 times, you then use the roll and restrain. Surprise can be a great tool.

    One other quick note. While using treats to train is a great tool, (good advice Karen). It isn't always the best for dominance issue's as it can be a reinforcement of the negative attitude that leads to getting a treat. This can happen so subtlety that it i becomes an issue before we realize it. Always good for the basics, sit, stay, down etc.
    • Also, regarding "roll and restrain":



      What “alpha rolling” is really doing to your dog — RespectYourDog.Com
      Techniques such as pinning the dog to the floor will make dogs anxious and potentially lead to an escalation of aggression.
    • I like Cesar Millan and do not think his methods are cruel.  He has proven time and time again that he can rehabilitate "red zone" dogs with his calm and assertive techniques. But I don't believe that all the techniques can be applied to all dogs....it is a case by case situation.  I will not use the 'roll and restrain' on my doodle as she is a sensitive dog and just talking to her sternly when she misbehaves is enough to make her realize she was acting incorrectly.  My black lab on the other hand, nothing other than pinning him down (gently) would work.  He now barely ever reacts on leash. 

    • Many schools of thought on "disciplining" dogs for these types of behaviors. Here's one worth considering: https://muttabouttown.com/2013/08/18/leash-reactivity-its-trainable/

    • Thank you for this link. This was a good read and I will try to implement these techniques.  I've tried in the past to make her focus on me, but didn't have the greatest luck.  I need to find the high value reward that she will actually like. 

    • The treats are only given if the dog ignores the other dog and does not display any dominance, aggression, reactiveness, etc. so it doesn't reinforce a negative attitude at all, it reinforces good behavior, and focusing on the owner. 

      On-leash reactiveness is rarely a dominance issue. 

  • It's pretty common, and it takes a lot of training to overcome this, but it can be done. You need to ramp up your obedience training in general, with the primary goal of keeping her focused on you at all times. If she's looking at you, she can't be barking and lunging at other dogs. I'd use high value treats (lamb lung, liver) that she only ever gets on leash walks IF she remains calm and focused on you when another dog is around. A good basic obedience class will help, and lots and lots of practice. When you have her out on leash, you need to be scanning the horizon so that you see any approaching dogs before she does, and get her attention focused on you. Once they're in that reactive state, you've lost them; they can't really see or hear anything other than the other dog. If necessary, turn around and walk the other way.

    I'd suggest posting this in the Training Group. Lots of people there who are experienced with leash reactivity and will be able to give you better and more specific advice than I can. The Training Group administrator Jane is probably more experienced with handling this than anyone else here on DK, and I know she'd be glad to help. 

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