Jekyll & Hyde - Is It Leash Aggression?
Jekyll & Hyde – Is It Leash Aggression?
So, you used to like walking your dog, but now he goes nuts when he sees other dogs, squirrels, bunnies and wants to stop and sniff everything. Most natural behavior for dogs include wanting to meet, greet and/or sniff every dog, human and tree. Dogs are social animals and 40% of their brain is dedicated to smells. They cannot help it. Unfortunately, we don’t always have time on walks for our dogs to “smell the roses”. But meanwhile your dog is thinking “I want to say hi, I want to sniff, I want it, I want it, I want it now!!!”. So what do we do? We drag them with us down the sidewalk or away from what it wants to go investigate so we can get that walk done. The more this happens to your dog the more frustrated the he becomes and the more determined he is to get to what it wants to. The pulling gets worse, behavior towards other dogs appears aggressive. We end up trying a harness which either helps a just a little or makes it entirely worse having the same effect as a tight leash. Walking your dog is no longer pleasant and in some cases seemingly dangerous. I cannot tell you how many people stop walking their dogs entirely when it gets to this point and I can totally understand why.
I am happy to let you know there are solutions to this very common problem. Basic obedience and loose leash walking training usually solves it. Once your dog understands obedience commands and an open line of communication is open between you and your dog, you will have amazing control over the situation. We always teach alternate behaviors like heel, sit and down. Your dog cannot go after or sniff people, birds, bunnies, trees, and other dogs when it is in obedience mode on command. They learn to walk on a loose leash and heel which takes care of their need to pull. We also use other behavior modification technique to break your dog of being that excited about distractions in general. It is worth every penny to hire a certified trainer to solve this problem. Walking your dog is very necessary for its health and it should be an enjoyable experience for both of you.