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How to Prevent Your Puppy From Becoming Aggressive on a Leash

In this post, I’ll go over some tips on how to prevent your puppy from developing aggression to other dogs while on a LEASH.

There’s a Dalmatian puppy in our apartment complex.

A Dalmatian!

But, the puppy is not so tiny anymore, and when I see her out walking she is so excited every time someone passes that she jumps, pulls and puts her paws on people.

Pulling and jumping towards people or dogs is not aggression, but this kind of excitement can LEAD to frustration, which is one cause for a dog’s aggression while on a leash.

It works like this:

Dog sees other dog. Dog gets excited. Dog pulls. Dog can’t get to other dog. Dog gets frustrated. Dog lunges and barks and growls.

“Leash aggression” or “leash reactivity” is oh so common in dogs, and it’s often (not always) caused by:

1. Frustration

2. Fear

There are other reasons too, like guarding the owner or just lacking in social skills, but I want to focus on FRUSTRATION because it’s so common.

How to prevent a puppy's leash aggression

Puppies don’t come pre-trained.

So let’s focus on this:

How can you PREVENT a puppy’s excitement from leading to frustration and aggression?

I’d love to hear what’s worked for you. Leave your answer in the comments.

Below are my ideas. These are just my ideas. I’m not perfect.

How to prevent a puppy or dog from developing leash aggression

Prevent puppy from becoming aggressive on the leash

1. Lots of exercise and socialization.

If only it were that easy right? Well, it is. Get the puppy out and about, expose him to new places so he’s tired, and get him used to seeing other dogs and people so it’s not such a big deal.

2. Enroll in a puppy training and socialization class.

And then a basic obedience class. And then take another class. And another … keep on training in group settings for at least a year if you can swing the cost. But I’d say that initial puppy class is non-negotiable. Just do it. If you don’t have the money, check with local shelters to see if they know of any free classes or puppy playtimes.

See my post: Easy tips for socializing a puppy

3. Work on solid obedience skills from DAY 1.

Work in short sessions, staying positive with highly valued food rewards. This teaches the puppy self-control (which a lot of adult dogs lack). It also teaches her to pay attention to YOU.

4. Begin to teach appropriate greeting skills right away.

This could be as simple as asking for a sit before greeting another dog. Then, progress to sitting for 5 seconds. Keep it simple, but ask your pup to do something CALMING before greeting other dogs, assuming your pup likes other dogs. You’re using the other dog as a reward. Calm behavior leads to other dogs.

5. Use a no-pull harness or training collar.

The right training collar will depend on your dog’s breed, how big and how strong she is and which tool you are comfortable using. I recommend a no-pull harness, a martingale collar or a slip collar.

You could also try a prong collar or a Gentle Leader. For my future puppy, I plan to start out with a martingale collar, which is a slip (choke) collar that doesn’t tighten all the way.

Finally, by all means, get some help from a professional trainer if you’d like some further direction and ideas. Even a single one-on-one session can give you some valuable ideas. This is a small investment for setting up your puppy for a lifetime of balance and success.

Also, you’ll probably make some mistakes. We all do. Don’t beat yourself up over it. Move on.

OK, time to hear from you. Jump in on this discussion.

How would you prevent a puppy’s leash aggression?

Also see my posts:

5 tips for managing a leash-reactive dog

Stop a dog from barking and growling at other dogs

Remembering Elsie, A Great Dog
How do you feed your dog raw food while traveling?