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Your furry buddy is acting cool, polite and normal. But when you put a leash on him, he becomes aggressive especially when a dog goes near him--he lunges, barks and acts differently. What could be the problem? In this article, we will discuss leash aggression, its causes as well as the solutions to prevent it.

Big black dog with a muzzle

Bringing your dog with you outside can be fun until you put them on a leash. Sometimes, dogs tend to change their behavior while they’re on a leash which results in excessive barking, pulling and lunging, especially when they see other dogs or anything that catches their attention. Leash aggression is a common problem among dogs. They tend to be frustrated and tense once they are put on a leash. To understand the underlying reasons behind this type of aggression, dog owners must know what leash aggression really is.

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Leash aggression or leash reactivity is a typical dog behavior in outdoor situations wherein they are contained in a leash. This behavior is caused by fear, restraint, frustration and other things that make them uncomfortable. These factors affect their behavior, making them defensive and even territorial.

Possible Causes of Leash Aggression

 Overexcited puppy on a leash

There are many underlying factors that cause leash reactivity. Some of those are:

  1. Discomfort on their leash:

    Oftentimes, the leash itself is the reason behind their aggression. You might not be able to notice that they find the leash uncomfortable or painful to them. Hence, it is important to check if the leash can fit them perfectly, allowing them to explore and look around their environment.

  2. Fear:

    This is the most common reason for leash aggression. If they see an object of fear--either a person or another dog, your dog will become defensive in order for that object of fear to go away from them.

  3. Excitement:

    Some dogs tend to be aggressive and somewhat out-of-control because of excitement. This may be less concerning, however, your dog needs to be taught proper manners especially outdoors since this type of aggression can result in high-pitched rapid barking which can scare other people off.

  4. Aggression towards another dog or animal:

    This situation is rare, yet the most concerning. This type of aggression is when your dog sees another dog or another animal that he can prey upon and targets it because he wants to hurt them.

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Symptoms of Leash Aggression

Small dog looking scared on a leash
Leash aggression can be diagnosed by your veterinarian if their aggression is associated with something serious such as psychological or medical-related circumstances. With such, your dog needs to undergo physical examinations in order for them to receive proper treatment.

If your dog shows the following symptoms, you can consult your veterinarian or animal behaviorist in order to address this matter properly:

  • Tension
  • Licking of face/nose when there’s no food
  • Crouching
  • Excessive yawning and vocalization
  • Gasping
  • Fearfulness
  • Shaking

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Course of Action: Stopping Leash Aggression

Two big dogs in a fight
Prevention of leash reactivity differs and it depends based on the triggers and how severe the aggression is. Hence, it is important to know what causes the aggression and from there, the best way to deal with this problem is to consult your veterinarian. Moreover, leash training can also help in modifying their behavior--they’ll learn to contain themselves in public, follow your vocal cues and so forth.

Never punish your dog when they behave aggressive because it can exacerbate the situation further as it can make them more fearful and frustrated. Treatment and training may take some time and a lot of patience, but it will be worth it. Furthermore, use positive reinforcements (such as giving treats and praises) to your dog during leash training and/or if you see positive changes in their behavior.

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