Dog leash aggression

One of the best parts about owning a dog is being able to take him places without worrying how he’ll respond to other animals, people or objects.

I love that I can take my mutt Ace anywhere and know that I can trust him (he might drool on you, though). Ace will comfortably go for walks next to busy traffic, through large crowds or in a state park. When we pass other dogs that are barking or lunging, I know I can keep my dog calm and under control.

Dog leash aggression is a common issue. By leash aggression, I mean the dog shows signs of aggression, frustration, excitement or anxiety towards other dogs when he is leashed. Some people will call this barrier aggression because any kind of barrier or boundary such as a fence can bring out aggression in dogs.

The best way to help a dog overcome leash aggression is to work on the problem rather than ignore it. It’s easy to avoid other dogs during walks, but this will not help the dog learn anything. Instead, the dog needs to be exposed to more dogs while leashed so he can learn how to properly behave.

How to stop a dog’s leash aggression

Most leash-aggressive dogs are lacking in their social skills in some way. Either they are insecure about meeting a new dog and become defensive or they are so overly excited to see another dog that the excitement leads to aggression. Other dogs are territorial or possessive and become aggressive if someone approaches “their” human or “their” property.

One good thing is that most dogs will not actually attack other dogs, they just sound ferocious. But if the wrong dogs meet and both are unsocialized, the excitement could escalate into an actual fight. I’ve written past posts on how to introduce dogs and how to socialize dogs.

As for preventing leash aggression, the key is to teach the dog through conditioning that it is no big deal if another dog approaches, and there is no reason to feel insecure or excited.

Here are some additional tips for preventing dog-on-dog leash aggression:

Buy a good training collar.

The best training collar for large or strong dogs is the prong collar because it allows you to give the dog a correction if he fixates, cries, barks or lunges. I have an easier time controlling large dogs with the prong collar compared to a choke or slip collar. For dogs that are sensitive or reactive to a prong collar, try the Halti or Gentle Leader. Small dogs are usually OK on a slip lead.

Take an obedience class.

There is no easier way to practice loose-leash walking around other dogs than at a dog obedience class. The other dog owners won’t get annoyed acting as distractions for your dog because it’s good for their dogs, too. The instructor of the class should also be able to help individuals who are having trouble controlling their dogs.

Accept that stopping a dog’s leash aggression won’t happen overnight.

Dogs learn through repetitions – a lot of repetitions. It could take months to help a dog overcome leash aggression. Your consistency will pay off in the long run.

Stay relaxed and don’t yell.

When I’m walking a leash-aggressive dog, my natural tendency is to tense up and pull back on the leash when I see an approaching dog. This is the wrong thing to do because a tense leash will cause the dog to resist and pull, followed by crying, barking and lunging. If I’m relaxed, the dog will have an easier time staying relaxed.

Don’t allow your dog to walk in front.

The safest way to walk a dog is on a loose-leash at your side. There is no excuse to allow a dog with dog aggression issues to lead you on your walk. This puts the dog in control, not you. Even if you pull him back when you see another dog, he’s going to pick up on your excited energy and respond accordingly. Just keep him at your side all the time.

Recognize the early signs or aggression and correct the dog right away.

Usually the handler will correct the dog too late by yelling and pulling back on the leash. All this does is get both dogs riled up. The best thing to do is stay completely calm and pretend you don’t see the other dog. Keep the leash loose. It should actually form a “J” shape from the collar.

The “correction” is intended to snap the dog out of it and redirect his attention. I usually start with a loudly whispered, “Hey!” or by poking the dog’s side with my foot. This is often enough of a distraction so that I can re-group and make sure I have control of the dog. If that doesn’t work, I will do a quick leash pop that tightens and then releases the collar around the dog’s neck.

If the dog is so agitated that he can’t relax, I will put him into a sit position with his back or side to the other dog until he relaxes. Usually this only takes 30 seconds or so, but sometimes it’s a few minutes. If you have the dog at your left side, turn into his body and bump him back until he sits. Make sure to keep the leash loose the entire time. If he tries to lunge or bark once you start moving again, put him back into a sit.

You want to correct the dog before his behavior escalates into aggression, so watch for signs such as a raised tail or ears, raised hair on his back, heavier breathing, crying, stiffening or staring. Correct the dog the second he displays any of these behaviors.

Walk your dog by dogs that bark along fences – they are a great training tool!

Take advantages of those “bad” dogs that bark like crazy. They are often the greatest test. Stop worrying about what everyone thinks and purposely walk by. If the dog I’m walking becomes excited or aggressive, I correct him and we turn and walk by the fence again. Sometimes we walk by the fence five or six times.

If the dog’s aggression really escalates, I stop and put him into a sit position with his back to the fence for a minute or so until he relaxes. Then we walk by again. By relaxed, I mean he is not crying or frantically trying to turn and look at the other dog. Instead, his breathing has returned to normal and he is able to look at me or straight ahead rather than at the other dogs. I am not holding him back with a tight leash, but he is remaining in a sit position on his own.

Keep your own safety in mind.

If a dog is frustrated and can’t get at the dog he is focused on, he could turn his frustration against you or another dog you are walking and bite. Do not put your hands and face near the dog’s mouth. It’s safer to turn and step into the dog, making him back up rather than grabbing the leash close to his collar and pulling him back. The more agitated the dog is, the more likely he is to lash out at others around him. Dogs react to the situation they are in at that exact moment and will bite someone they love.

Walk your dog every day.

In order for the dog to learn that it’s no big deal to see other dogs, he needs to be around more dogs. I offer dog running services in Fargo, and the socialization side of getting out for a run is just as important as the actual physical exercise. Visit as many places as you can, walk your dog in different parks and neighborhoods and ask your friends if they will walk their dogs by you so you can practice teaching your dog how to be calm. Walking your dog for at least an hour every day will also help him get the exercise he needs. Most aggressive dogs are not getting enough exercise.

What suggestions do you have for dealing with leash aggression?

56 thoughts on “Dog leash aggression”

  1. Great article!!! However, I disagree with using a prong collar to help with leash aggression. When a dog reacts to another dog and gets sharp painful jabs in their neck, they may be associating the pain with seeing the other dog. They may be thinking to themselves, “Hey! There is a dog. Every time I see a dog, I get pain in my neck. I better tell him to go away!” This, of course, encourages more aggression. The gentle leader is a much better and more humane idea.

    Also, I am reading this great book by Patricia B. McConnell, Ph.D. and Karen B. London, Ph.D titled, “Feisty Fido”. It is great and my dog Maya is making great improvement. It takes time and patience though. We started two weeks ago and still have a long way to go. Nothing good is ever easy.

    “Feisty Fido” talks about using a “watch” queue and a “turn around” queue. “Watch” is similar to the sit indicated above. The difference is that you keep walking and get your dog to pay attention to you rather than to the other dog. A “turn around” is just like it sounds. When you see another dog, turn around and walk calmly away before your dog has a chance to react.

    1. Laura McGaughey

      I also totally disagree with a prong collar or corrections for leash reactivity. I recommend the BAT techniques and the techniques McConnell also works through in her Feisty Fido booklet. I can’t believe anyone would recommend pain and corrections–this can only lead to a worse reaction, in my opinion. I like head collars but they can lead to neck injuries, so I prefer a front-clip harness.

    2. This is an old article but I wanted to respond to set the record straight. Timed correctly, a correction will NEVER create a negative association with another dog, only with their inappropriate action. Most people whom I see who are trying to correct their dog on a prong waited too long and did indeed escalate the aggression/frustration (most people also don’t have their prongs fitted properly). Early and firmly is the key.

  2. Lindsay Stordahl

    Thanks Dawn and Carla!

    I prefer the prong collar, but the Halti or Gentle Leader can work as well. The way the dog is handled is more important than the actual tool that is used, so it’s important for each individual to use what they are comfortable with. I’ve heard your logic before about the dog associating “pain” with seeing another dog but the prong collar is not intended to cause pain and I have never had a dog become more aggressive when I’m using that particular collar.

    I’ll have to check out that book. I am a fan of Patricia McConnell. The watch command or simply turning around are good ways to redirect the dog’s attention. I do think the dogs need to eventually learn to deal with another dog, but sometimes that can’t happen right away.

  3. I have a question – What if you have a dog that used to be reactive on lead, but you’ve worked with that dog to the point where she’s no longer reactive when alone… but you have three dogs, and she’s reactive when the others are there, and gets one of them going too?

    I’ve got three small dogs – two females, one male (all altered.) Girl A isn’t reactive to anything, EVER. Girl B is the one that used to be reactive all the time, but now she isn’t when alone, and my male will take a cue from Girl B when I am walking all three, and if she starts to get reactive around the group, he’ll join in.

  4. Lindsay Stordahl

    Does “Girl B” do anything else differently when you are walking the group? Does she pull more, act more excited in general, etc? She probably sees herself as “the leader” when you’re out as a group, but when it’s just the two of you she knows you’re in charge.

    Really watch her and correct her the second she starts to act more excited, even when there are no other dogs around. For example, don’t let her barge ahead through the door before the walk even starts. Also watch your male closely and make sure he isn’t actually the one starting it. Is he fine when walked by himself? Maybe walk just those two together and see how they do.

  5. First, prong collars were never meant to be used to cause pain to a dog, unfortunately there are a lot of people out there that are using them and they don’t have the slightest clue on how to use them correctly. If you have ever used one and you have caused your dog pain or bloodied their neck then you are wrong and you need to stop. I use prong collars with my Lab and my Vizsla (if you are familiar with Vizslas then you know how incredibly sensitive they are) and when they see them they get very excited because they know they get to go and do something fun. Your dog should always have a positive association with your training tool. Just the act of putting the collar on is enough to put them both into the right mindset and while we are out, whether at class, on walks, runs, rollerblading, etc. I never have to actuate the collar, they know how to behave when they have it on and that’s the way it should always be.

  6. Lindsay Stordahl

    Thanks, Sarah! Good points!

    Ace comes running when I grab the prong collar. He cowers away from the Gentle Leader. He won’t even eat if it’s next to his bowl.

  7. Girl B doesn’t do anything differently that I’ve noticed, but I will try to keep a better eye on it. It may just be something subtle that I’m not noticing. My male walks perfectly alone as well, but I can keep an eye on him also to see if maybe he’s the one starting things.

    It may just be that he gets more excited (’cause he LOVES other dogs) and I don’t notice him moving forward, but my “girl B” DOES notice a change.

    Thank you for the ideas. I will have to see if I can figure it out over the next week or so.

  8. Haha – Gussie has “leash friendliness”…come to think of it, he has “off leash friendliness” too. You never have to worry about aggression with my giant hound unless you’re a squirrel. Even then, he just wants to sniff them!

  9. I just wanted to say thanks again so much for all of your advice. I’ve seen a great deal of improvement in Molly in the past couple of days. She’s not leash aggressive, but definitely dominant so this has help our walks tremendously. She’s quickly (though grudgingly) realized who’s in charge and looks to me when there’s another dog rather than trying to drag me across the street!

  10. I have a dog who is reactive to other dogs when on lead. Without a dog in sight, she walks with a loose leash but she pulls and lunges with the intention of going nose-to-nose with other dogs when she sees one. Often, when another dog approaches, she will put herself into a sit or crouch facing the oncoming dog. Once the dog gets close, she’ll lunge. If I keep her moving forward, I often end up dragging her along. If I let her stay in the sit or down as another dog draws near, I end up struggling to keep her close when the inevitable lunging urge hits. So what do you think, is it better to let her sit and work toward extinguishing the lunge, train by keeping her moving, something else?

  11. Lindsay Stordahl

    Have you tried having her sit with her back in the direction of the other dog. That may be the best approach for now, something to break her from staring at the other dog. If she makes too much of a “scene,” then walk over to the other side of the road and put her in a sit facing away from the other dog on that side. Don’t break from this position until she is completely calm again, even if this is minutes after the other dog has passed. Make sure you are using the best possible collar in order to control her, which I’m sure you are. Eventually you can work to be able to put her in a sit facing the other dog and then approach the other dog only when she is calm.

  12. I’m going to give these ideas a try. Have not tried to have her sit facing away from the other dog. Thanks for your insights and the useful blog.

  13. I have an extremely dog aggressive canine who is starting to learn to walk properly on a leash. He does fine until he hears other dogs or sees other dogs on their leash. He EXPLODES and cannot be calmed. I’m now using a prong collar and a harness in the case the prong collar slips a prong. I know he feels the prong collar because he will yelp while at the same time barking and lunging at every dog he can get his eye on. His episodes are so explosive NOTHING including offering him tasty treats will work. He is so agitated that food isn’t interesting to him……….and he is otherwise very interested in the treats but not when he sees or hears another dog. If we walk past a house and the dog is quiet he will stay quiet but if that dog behind the fence barks its on !!!! He cannot even feel the prong collar and he is a little dog. a tough little dog but still he only weighs about 12 pounds but is a very strong little terrier mix. Absolutely NOTHING I’ve tried is working.. Its only been 15 days into training but I would have hoped to see him settle down a bit while passing other dogs………… What should I do. I must correct this NOW or he could be put to sleep by his owners. Please e mail me at my e mail address above.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I highly recommend the book by Patricia McConnell called “Feisty Fido” which goes through step by step how to work with a dog with extreme leash aggression. The steps she outlines are based on positive reinforcement where you teach the dog a command for “watch.” Eventually you get the dog to automatically look at you every time he sees another dog. Of course, this takes a lot of time and you must first work without distractions by giving the dog a tasty treat when he looks at you after giving the command “watch.” You’ll have to lure him at first. Then progress to mild distractions such as just being outside, and so on. I suggest trying a Gentle Leader with the dog rather than the prong collar.

  14. I just got a prong collar for my dog, and I can see a lot of improvement even within a few days. We went to a training class where the trainer recommended that I use a specialized collar (in this case, prong.) I was skeptical at first, fearing that the collar would submiss the dog into doing what I wanted, but he seemed just as happy as normal. I was taught the correct usage of the leash – only a slight pop on the leash with barely any strength at all.

    The hard pulling of inexperienced prong collar users is probably where all the negative vibe comes from. It’s designed to simulate a mother dog’s mouthing whenever a puppy gets out of line. As far as fear, my dog was nervous at first, but quickly went back to prancing during our walks. He was also able to see dogs and sit down rather than going “crazy” like he did in the past.

  15. Darlene Lagendyk

    When I walk my dog (very docile cocker spaniel) he is very well behaved. If I am out with him and come across other dog people out on our walk. They initiate letting their dog meet mine. Sam has no problems with other dogs ….he will sniff the dog …and let it sniff him…twice now the other dog has been one of a quite larger breed. Meeting goes fine until the other dog paws his back and then he’ll turn to get away a bit and the other dog will snarl and snap which leads me to pull my dog away before he gets hurt. I am all for socializing dogs …. but at what cost? Is this because it’s two males? …is it because he is not fixed? ….as I said …he does not start the aggression.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      When dogs put a paw over the other dog’s back it is typically a dominance behavior. Sometimes it is done in play, but when dog’s are first meeting, it is a way of establishing dominance. If your dog is not fixed, other males will be more likely to prove their “dominance,” however it is still up to those other owners to control their dogs. You can help the situation by remaining calm and avoiding tension in the leash. Gently call your dog away rather than pulling him away, or step between the dogs to decrease any direct eye contact or tension. You can gently bump your dog away or block the other dog.

  16. Hi, my dog Ty is a rescue dog, I’ve had him since he was about 3 weeks old and nursed him back to health, becasue of this close bond with me he is very possesive/dominant when it comes to other animals and doesnt like me giving them too much attention. I have a cat and a ferret who he gets along with fine (well not so much the cat, but thats becasue the cat doesnt like him) and he has alot of doggy friends that he plays with nearly everyday at the doggy park off leash. When he is on leash though and passes another dog that he doesnt know or passes a dog barking behind a fence he becomes extreemly aggressive and fixated on that dog and I cannot for the life of me get his attention back untill I’ve dragged him away from the other dog. when he is off leash he has a habit of bolting up to dogs and people to say hello, which is taken the wrong way sometimes and has gotten him into a few fights. This behavious only started a few months ago and I am really starting to notice it getting worse, he is about 15 months old now and was desexed quite late due to health problems. Its so strange to me becasue he is the most friendly, loving, playful dog I’ve ever met, especially with the ferret, he is so gentle with her but so rough with other dogs. he is used to going everywhere with me but now I’m worried he will attack another dog… I cant think where it would be coming from becasue he has lived with other dogs before and is very well socialised. I want to get another dog soon but don’t want Ty to pass on his bad habbits.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I recommend taking him to an obedience class so he can get used to walking calmly on a leash around other dogs in an controlled setting. Explain your problem to the instructor beforehand.

      When you are out on walks, instead of pulling him away when he gets agitated, try stepping into him and bumping him back. You can do a quick u-turn, turning into him. This will surprise him and break his fixation/eye contact with the other dog for a second, giving you time to re-group.

      Try cutting back on his food and carrying highly valued treats on walks to get his attention. Do the same thing where you bump into him, physically pushing him back and then luring him to make eye contact with you using the treat.

      It sounds like his aggression may be due to frustration. He might be so excited to see other dogs, but he can’t get to them due to the leash and so he gets frustrated and lashes out. This is quite common.

      1. I have made some huge improvments with Ty and he is really responding well to the ‘leave it’ comand when we see another dog, even when he is off leash if I catch him in time he wont bolt up to another dog and comes back straight away. he still has a long way to go but I can pass another dog now without him lunging and barking (he still gets a bit too over-excited). I have started running him next to a bike to try drain more of his energy, also making him swim a bit more and changing the walks that I do to ‘shake it up’ a bit for him. I’ve also stopped letting him of leash so often so I can gain better control over him and ‘walk as a pack’ rather then him going where he wants. I have been reading Cesar Millan’s book “be the pack leader’ which I have now recomended to loads of people. It is very helpful and has some great information in it that made me understand how a dogs mind works a lot clearer.
        Unfortuantly I live in an extreemly remote community and there are no dog obedience classes on offer so I have started my training to become a canine behavoralist consultant to help not only myself but others too in my town. I also am plannng on starting up an agility club for the dogs in my town as most are working breeds such as Kelpies, Heelers etc that dont have enough stmulation.

        I have one more concern with Ty that I want to correct before getting my new puppy (a baby blue boy – Great Dane at the end of the year) :)… he doesnt pull while on the leash however I have never been able to walk with a ‘J’ in the leash as there is always slight tension on it. I use a slip collar and feel like I ‘snap’ it back too much to try and correct him. like I said he isnt really pulling its more like he just needs to feel the leash is still there… I have tried doing quick U-turns, which is actually really working as it makes him more focused on me however when I turn into him I keep standing on his toes and he gets hurt (I’m not going to lie, I am not the most co-ordinated person in the world) and I feel really bad that I hurt him so often… do you have any suggestions to stop the tension on the leash to create the ‘J’ shape?

  17. Great article! I recently adopted a german shepherd mix who was found with her mouth tied shut. needless to say she needs some socializing skills on the leash. I cannot express how completely much I agree about walking your dog every day. a dog who is not exercised=an unhappy unbalanced dog. I will be utilizing your techniques today on my walk. Another technique I use is “eyes on me’ I make sure my dog is focused in on me before and is not allowed to look at the dog if she is excited. It also helps a lot that I walk my newest dog with my other dog, my pit bull, who I have had since a puppy who walks past dogs calmly. His energy transfers over to her sometimes and he tends to bump her with his body when she starts excited yelping at other dogs on our walk. Thanks again for the advice!

  18. I have been dealing with this issue since adopting my 90 lb Lab mix 2 yrs ago. I went through 3 dog trainers and a feisty fido class to work with my dog on this. While I learned some valuable tips such as maintaining a safe distance, bringing treats, and avoiding situations that can be problematic, the things that worked best were: (1) walking him daily and letting him get to know the neighborhood dogs. Some dogs that used to set him off are now his friends. Walking together activates the pack mentality and they lose the aggression; (2) Gentle leader collar works better than a harness or a prong. I was not loving it at first but the professionals recommended it and it really helps to maintain control. Keep it double hooked to martingale collar so you always have hold of the dog. (3) Praise, patients, and love go a long way. One trainer told me to get rid of my dog (instead I got rid of her). My boy now has 7 dog friends with whom he walks and plays with loose in my fenced yard. He has come a loooong way. Leash aggression never really goes away but it can be reduced and managed if you are dedicated.

  19. I have a 65 pound Plott hound. And she is what you would call a “frustrated greeter.” We make her sit and “look” when she sees another dog and she does. Until the other dog gets like 20 feet from us and she likes to go crazy. And she has the most ferocious bark ever. But she just wants to say “Hi”! We walk her with a harness, but now I’m thinking that might be a bad idea. She we make her sit? Or should we try and keep walking like the other dog isn’t there? I’ve tried acting like I don’t see the dog, but she doesn’t miss anything. She ALWAYS sees them. Please help me! It’s so embarrassing!

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Try a different type of collar, a prong or a gentle leader. You wil have more control. I think it usually works better to just keep walking unless you get her to move off to the side and sit with her back to the other dog. Or just do a u-turn.

  20. Natalie kyriacou

    Using a prong collar is not necessary, and is doing more harm than good. Use positive reinforcement- turn the situation into something calm and relaxed, rather than heighten your dogs anxiety through neck-jabbing. A front walker harness will assist you in controlling your dog, and will not cause any pain. Walk past dogs behind fences to work on this.

  21. My 3 year old spayed lab that I adopted 3 months ago has been showing more and more leash aggression. She came from a home with no walks, no dog contact and knowing next to no commands. On walks now, she doesn’t pull on the leash and if a squirrel or cat running by catches her attention, we can generally command a “leave it” and she ignores it and just keeps an eye on it. The issue we have is with other dogs. Lots of dogs walk in our neighborhood and at our 3-5 visits/week to the dog park, she has made great strides and loves playing with dogs. However while on the leash, once she spots a dog she gets super excited (tail wagging, ears down and head down to sniff) but as soon as she gets up close to the other dogs she tenses and stands perfectly still usually resulting in a bark/fake bite from the other dog then all hell breaks loose. We’ve been trying to prevent the tensing but it seems innate since she was never socialized with other dogs. Today, she lunged at a smaller dog without tensing up, she went from super happy to lunging. It worries me that she isn’t showing signs of improving here.

  22. Lindsay Stordahl

    Have you tried obedience classes? I think these are useful for getting the dog used to walking nicely on a leash around other dogs. Since it sounds like your dog does OK off leash and needs work on the leash, those types of classes might be beneficial. You could explain to the trainer ahead of time what your exact issues are so he/she is aware and can offer additional advice.

  23. I have a 12 mo sheltie that has driven me to tears at our “obedience” class. This is the third class we’ve been enrolled in, but tonight took the cake. All he could do was bark and lunge until the instructor told me he was too distracting to the class and to go sit on the sidelines. No one would ever guess seeing him at home that he has this side to him – kind of like Dr. Jekyll-Mr. Hyde

    Mac and I walk at 5:30 in the morning, so we don’t see many dogs, but the rabbits and squirrels are just as bad. In the later evening, same thing, mostly just squirrels and rabbits. When we walk along the busy roads, traffic noises and motion are no problem. If I take him out earlier in the evening, all the other dog walkers are out and about and sends Mac into a tizzy. He spends Wednesday afternoon and evening with my daughters’ 2 dogs, and also visits them for part of the weekend. He also plays well with the other 4-5 dogs in the neighborhood in our backyards.

    I know Mac is really just wanting to say hello and play, but enough is enough. He is so easily distracted and stubborn, I’m having difficulty getting him to keep his attention on me when walking, like they have us practice at our classes. He looks for a second, and then he’s quick back to checking out everything else but me, often before I can even click and get the reward treat to him. It is like we are always in a state of high alert on our walks.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Oh that must be so frustrating. Your hard work will pay off, though. Try to be patient, as hard as that is. Sounds like you are doing a wonderful job getting him out on walks.

      Have you talked to the obedience instructor outside of class so you are both on the same page with what Mac needs help with?

      I am linking to a post that has some additional ideas for stopping a dog’s aggression on a leash. Even if Mac is mostly showing excitement and not actual aggression, it might give you some ideas.

      http://www.thatmutt.com/2012/10/24/how-to-stop-a-dogs-aggression/

  24. Bruno is 16 months old and he is great off lead or on lead if I’m not walking him. He gets very protective if on lead and another dog come towards us, he goes into the down position and starts to shake, but is fine until the other dog puts its nose in his face. I have had him to obedience classes as well as private, I just don’t know what to do with him as he is so soft and friendly off lead and I don’t get the shaking any help please

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      He sounds fearful to me. Can you help him associate positive experiences with other dogs by giving him treats for being calm from a safe distance? Then try getting closer the next time. Slowly increase his comfort level without overwhelming him.

  25. I was wondering as I am new to all this aggression stuff, would it help if a neighbour came for a walk with her dog on a lead with me. She has a lovely golden lab, 2 years old and she is such a relaxed dog. I live next door and they have met each other and talk to each other through the fence. Might that help socialise my collie cross shepherd of 9 months old?

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Does your dog have any issues with aggression? Either way, I do think a walk with your neighbor’s dog could benefit both dogs. You’ll want to try to avoid head-on confrontations at first, so walk them side by side with at least one person between them at first. If all goes well, you can let them sniff and interact after a bit. Then maybe even a playdate in one of your backyards.

  26. Slip collars are *not* appropriate for small dogs. Using a slip collar can cause or exasperate a collapsed trachea on small dogs. Gentle Leader and No-Pull harnesses (preferably the kind that clip from the front) are way better ways to go.

  27. Hi, I wondered if anyone could help me with my bulldog. I have 4 dogs, all are well trained individually and get along great at home. As soon as they are out walking they form a pack and are all very aggressive towards other dogs. I know my bulldog is the instigator and she is giving the others bad habits. So I have been walking and training them all as much as I can one on one. Its helping the others but the bulldog seems untrainable. I like to think I’m not totally clueless when it comes to training, every dog I’ve ever had has been to puppy classes and they have all been well socialised. But she seems to be in a world of her own.
    She has a choke collar, I know it isn’t ideal but I couldn’t hold her back when she had an anti pull harness. I don’t want to try the prong collar because I know she’ll hurt herself. Pain doesn’t seem to worry her. And she doesn’t have a long enough nose for the gentle leads, they just fall off her face.
    So I have tried giving her treats whenever we see other dogs but she gets so focused on them that she doesn’t care about the treats or about anything I’m saying or doing. Her heckles all stand up and she becomes fixated on them, when they get closer she goes nuts and almost strangles herself on the chain.
    I have read so many articles on lead aggression and she is such an extreme case. Can anyone suggest anything new for me to try? She is such a sweet heart at home, and I’m at the stage where I have to hide from other dogs and hope she doesn’t see them.
    Thank you for your time.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Have you read the book Feisty Fido by Patricia McConnell? She uses lots of treats in her approach but starts with a great distance between the dogs. I thought it was a great little book.

      Another post on my blog to check out is a guest post by Ty Brown. His approach is actually the opposite of McConnell’s, but is also effective for some dogs. It’s about finding the right approach for your particular dog: http://www.thatmutt.com/2012/10/24/how-to-stop-a-dogs-aggression/

  28. Hi

    My 14 month fixed female springer spaniel has recently (within the last two months) started to bark very aggressively at dogs who are approaching us while she is on the leash. She barks at the dogs whether she knows them or not. She even barks at one of her playmates.

    We have been through the humane society’s dog training classes, use the gentle leader and do loose leash walking while on our walks.

    Any ideas on how we can stop the evil side of our wonderful, loving, cuddly puppy from coming out?

  29. Agreed, if you are causing harm with the prong collar, you are the one at fault. Not the collar. Much like any other tool. I am so grateful for the prong collar. I have severe neck issues causing great weakness in my hands. My lovely Valerie is a 90# rescue. I weigh 110 #. We’re it not for the prong collar I would have to give her up 🙁 Also, all dogs are different. If you are just beginning training you may start with the least corrective and move up as your dog requires. Some dogs can be trained by voice alone. Others wouldn’t be fazed by a bullhorn with a steak in it. My dog would drive a Mac truck for a treat of any type or dimension but treats would not keep her at my side on walks for more than five minutes. Common sense is they key. Thanks for the article, it was very encouraging and helpful .

  30. Pingback: Questions to ask before adopting a dog | Thatmutt.com

  31. The original instruction says to walk you dog past a gate with “a bad barking dog”. I have a gate with a dog who has fear aggression and I am working on getting through this. It does not help when people park their dogs or constantly walk their dog outside our gate and use my dog as a training tool! Not helpful or appreciated by a pet owner trying to work through the same issue – please be considerate.

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