How to Stop Leash Aggression in Dogs

By: Sondra Wolfer

Does this sound all too familiar? Your dog is a well-mannered angel hanging around the house and back yard, and an utter charmer when running loose with his furry friends in the dog park. But when you clip a dog leash on him and he encounters another canine, look out! Your sweet best friend transforms into a snarling, aggressive beast. He barks and snaps and lunges. This is more than poor manners—this is leash aggression, and this common behavioral problem frustrates many a dog parent.

Walks with your dog should be enjoyable, not stressful and embarrassing. You shouldn’t have to seek out isolated sections of the park for a walk, or furtively look ahead and turn tail at the first sign of another dog on the sidewalk. Read on for a primer on leash aggression and training your dog for peaceable outings on a lead:

What is Leash Aggression?

Leash aggression is a problem behavior in which your dog becomes aggressive, anxious, or over-excited when encountering another dog only while attached to a lead. The issue is also commonly called leash reactivity.

What Causes Leash Aggression?

There are usually multiple factors at the root of leash aggression. Dogs who are anxious or overly territorial are more prone to it. Lack of proper socialization as a puppy can contribute to the unwanted behavior because your dog never learned how to say a proper “hello” to his four-legged friends. Excessive stimulation can also lead to leash reactivity because your dog is so over-excited he simply forgets any manners he learned.

Most often, however, it’s dog owners who unwittingly cause or exacerbate leash aggression because they don’t understand normal dog behavior. Out on walks, dogs are curious to explore their world and are especially excited to meet other dogs along the way. If allowed to say “howdy” and get to know each other naturally, dogs will approach each other from the side rather than face to face. They position themselves in an arc nose to hindquarters in order to sniff the new dog’s signature scent and allow the new friend to do the same. It’s a dog’s version of introducing himself by name, with a friendly smile and a handshake. They are sussing each other out, asking “Are you nice? Are you rude? Would I like to play with you?”

But many dog owners don’t allow dogs to greet this way. Instead, they pull them close and shorten the leash as the other dog approaches. This forces a face-to-face interaction, which dogs consider aggressive. This makes dogs feel vulnerable, trapped, and frustrated, and some dogs act out as a result. Then their owners pull them away or reprimand them, creating further tension, fear, and more misbehavior. Leash aggression is often a downward cycle of frustration for both dog and dog owner.

Training to Calm Leash Aggression

If you’re reading this and you’ve got a puppy, here’s how to prevent leash aggression from developing in the first place:

  • While on his leash, don’t let your puppy run up to other dogs, jump on them, push them, or get in their face. This is bad behavior and will likely be met with understandable aggression from the other dog.
  • Give your puppy opportunities for supervised, off-leash play with other dogs in a mix of ages. Older dogs will teach your puppy his manners for you, letting him know what is acceptable behavior and what is not.

For an adult dog with leash aggression, patient and consistent training can change how he behaves during canine encounters. Here are some tips and approaches that can help:

  • The primary goal in training your dog away from leash aggression/reactivity is to develop a strong association between meeting other dogs and focusing on you. To establish this link, dog treats are your primary training tool. You need to find a treat your dog loves and reserve these special morsels as rewards for when school’s in session.
  • Start training in an area where you’ll encounter other dogs but isn’t overrun with furry distractions.
  • When a dog approaches, the moment your dog notices this stranger call out your dog’s name in an upbeat voice, or say “here” or another cue word. When he turns to you make eye contact and reward him with a treat. The key is catching him after he’s seen the dog but before he has a chance to react. This will require focus and attention on your part.
  • While the other dog is in sight, keep your dog at a distance and give him treats repeatedly.
  • When the dog is out of sight, stop doling out treats.
  • Repeat ad infinitum. Not literally. But this is going to take awhile.
  • Keep training sessions short, mostly because it will be tiring for you to be on high alert for long stretches.
  • Eventually your dog will immediately turn to you when another dog enters the picture. When this starts to happen, you can slowly close the gap between him and the other dog. This process of desensitization should be slow—rushing it could undo your progres.
  • Never punish your dog for lapses. Of course, you will contain your dog when he becomes aggressive to keep everyone safe. But pull him back firmly without yanking or yelling. And never hit your dog. Punitive responses only increase your dog’s anxiety and make him associate unpleasant responses with other dogs, thereby worsening his leash aggression.

Some cases of leash aggression are so deep-seated the help of a professional dog trainer is likely required to correct the situation. If your dog’s level of reactivity is extreme—he regularly frightens people with his aggression, or he can’t settle himself down after an incident—you will probably need backup.

Whether you get support or go it alone, you are your dog’s primary trainer. Whenever you go for a walk, you’ll need to be prepared and attentive. Then, incrementally, your dog’s behavior will change. Your walks with your best friend will no longer be a source of tension, but rather the pleasure they are meant to be. And that is your reward.

114 thoughts on “How to Stop Leash Aggression in Dogs”

  1. My border/ my curr mix is a year old. He is great staying in our yard with his fence collar. He will bark at dogs when they go by but usually does not cross to them. On leash he is out of control. He will not even take treats of any kind if he spots a dog. I am at my witts end. Help

    1. Mary, I’m having the same issue. He totally ignores the treats and barks his head off. He’s harmless, but the other dog’s human looks terrified and pulls their dogs away while I mumble apologies. I’m scared they will think he’s aggressive and complain to my apartment folks when he just wants to say hi to their dog. He’s a saint when I take him to the dog park and he’s off the leash. Maybe someone can help us both?

      1. So I’m having this same issue with my little terrier mix, Boo. I think the first step is to teach the “watch me” queue over and over and over at home and then on walks.

        Boo reacts well to “yes” also. So any time she does something good, say “yes” and give her a treat. Sitting, laying down, etc. whatever tricks they already know, teach them “yes” and reward them! Then go on to “watch me” this one you basically have her sit and whenever she looks at you say “yes” and give her a treat. Being able to get your dogs attention is awesome! And now we’ve worked our way up to “watch me” while on walks and distractions. I’m hoping the next steps of desensitization around other dogs goes well!!

          1. We’ve had a dog trainer come to our house several times and then we did a two week board and train for our aggressive toy Aussie. She SCREAMS at other dogs, lunges, barks, loses her mind. We redirect, try the treats, walk as far away as we can. Just being outside with no other dogs in sight makes her start squeaking and barking. We walk her with our other dog, her bonded “brother” Aussie and he’s calm and fine. We walk her without him, with both myself and my husband, by herself with one walker, all
            Combos. No change. No training has helped. We think she may just be an indoor dog.

      2. He is NOT harmless and “just wanting to say hi”. He is exhibiting dog aggression because HE sees himself as pack leader because you are not. You need to take a class with a qualified dog trainer.

        1. Leash Reactive dogs are most often driven by fear. Agread the fear is a product of feeling that they are not protected and need to take the lead in dangerous situations – but it is NOT all about a human establishing leadership it is more about building confidence, building trust in the fact the human has “got his back”, and helping the dog to associate other dogs with good things…

        2. “Pack leader” he could still be harmless idiot. Pack leader doesn’t make an aggressive dog, just one without guidance. Pack leader asserts dominance and gets treated with respect sure. You cant train a dog who thinks he’s higher then you. But you cant walk the planet thinking every single dog is aggressive. You’re the type to run away when a dog charges you and then wonder why it attacked you lol.

          1. I have a frenchton that when off leash she’s an angel but when on leash on walks and sees another dog she starts growling and barking. I will immediately correct her and tell her no. I do at times put her mask on, she hates it but it works. Should I just keep it on her until she understands that barking and lunging at other dogs is wrong? Covid has really hindered their ability to socialize as well.

        3. “she has never harmed another soul in sight..” Famous last words often uttered immediately after your dog has just bitten another dog or person. Heard it before.

        4. Right because you know her dog better than she does ? Lmfao no . My dog just wants to say hi too some dogs are like that . He will act “aggressive” on the leash until I let him go up to the dog , then he’s fine .

        5. I am also an owner of pit bulls, and your responses are helping to reinforce the bad reputation of the breed. I won’t take my dogs to a dog park because that is where my sweet, beloved pit bull became scared of other dogs. Rescue’s will tell you not to take your dog to a dog park. Not all dogs enjoy that kind of socialization. And many owners at dog parks don’t have control over their dogs. And in my community dogs have to be leashed on trails and streets. My dogs don’t like other dogs running up to them. This scares them. And lastly, I would be scared if just about any dog came running at me. Please be a good owner, so your pit bull can be a good ambassador for the breed. They have enough trouble as it is.

        6. Wow….look at you go…with all these suggestions and opinions…YET u kill squirrels for what? To eat? Truck .pitbull…nobody’s gonna take advice from trailer trash. Sorry.u must be from Arkansas or some other backwoods motor swinging from a tree shithole.

        7. well said
          i have a pitty/american staffy & she is the same
          the most loyal beautiful soul that will have my back, but stupid people pick their dogs up & cross the road when we’re walking.
          it’s the not the dogs fault if they’re aggressive it’s the idiots that train them to be that way

        8. I like how Lana knows everything about your dog without ever seeing or meeting him. What a cool skill to have. Also noticed every one of her comments includes the command to take your dog to a professional trainer because nobody else could possibly understand how to accomplish training on their own. How about fewer assumptions and more listening?!

        9. Wow everyone the only reason the comments are here are for questions and helpful responses.

          Take all this weird fighting and irrational anger somewhere else. What does mom say? If you don’t have something nice to say…

          Don’t bring random aggression and fighting into a thread about training dogs. Jeez guys.

      3. Have you tried using a pet corrector? If you use it before he sees other dogs and more for noting changes in heightened states and reward him for coming to you when you spray it lightly behind you it might be worth a try?

        1. What is a pet corrector? My son’s Catahoula is super leash- aggressive. I love to walk him when I’m visiting, but I don’t love him lunging at other dogs. Currently trying the treats, no change yet.

      4. If he’s barking out of control and you can’t bring his attention back to you with high value treats or a high value toy (mine loved that ball on a string toy) then you are way to close and over his threshold. You have to walk him back to the point where he is looking but is still listening to you and interested in treats or toy. And work from there and come closer when he starts looking at you when he sees a dog. This is nothing to be embarrassed or worried about. If people think your dog is mean just laugh and say he’s still in training. It’s just a dog who didn’t learn his manners no need to feel upset or bad about it. It’s a very easy problem to fix.

    2. Sounds exactly like my dog I’m at the point where I’ve spent over £1000 on dog trainers yet we’re still in the same situation. Refuses treats and us absolutely going insane on the lead. He had me over last week lunging so it’s secure dog fields for just him now. No idea where this trait came from.

  2. I too have dog that I cannot walk with other dogs in the area. She will smell them before they appear and is almost unmanageable and is hard to hold. She will not take a treat. She is deaf. I can’t even get close enough to a dog to say hello. Everyone is frightened of her. What can I do?
    A frustrated dog owner. Gail

    1. With deaf dogs, they respond really well to hand signals. And eye contact will be really important! To teach “watch me” to a deaf dog, first touch a treat to her nose, then touch the treat to your nose! (Or close to your face if you don’t actually want dog treats on your nose).

      Do this over and over! Like 3-5 times a day for 6 weeks at home. In the meantime try to walk her in less populated areas if you can! Then slowly introduce distractions with “watch me”. I hope it works for you! Luckily dogs do everything with signals in the wild, so since she can still see and has smell, hopefully treats and hand signals should work!

      1. Ali Z. thank you for your in depth replies. I rescued an older lab pointer mix 2 months ago. Poor guy was not neutered and lived 95% of his 9year life hooked to a chain in his California yard. He is so sweet at home and happy. He was full of worms, skin and bones when I got him. He looks gr8 now. I just want him to have a happy ending. He didn’t do gr8 at the dog park. He was VERY territorial/marking. I took him twice. He started to get into it both times, hackles up. No socialization. Also, discovered his reactiveness on walks when he sees another dog. I want to say, I appreciated all of your suggestions. I shall see how he does in due time. No more dog parks for him. Besides he has a playmate (dog) that he sees regularly at a friends and loves. Also, he is neutered now thanks to the rescue group that saved him. I am going to start with him with the training using special occassion treats. Crossing figures that his deep seated behaviors can be reversed. Thank you again for the gr8 advise in this thread. It reinforces and reminds me of what I learned years ago but never had to use with my JRT that I raised from a pup. Hugs and appreciation. Kodi.

        1. I myself am not a trainer but a dog walker with a dog who has leash aggression. The dog is perfectly obedient when other dogs on leashes are not present. So I started researching leash aggression and it matches the dogs behavior. So now when I walk through dog I am super vigilant spotting approaching dogs, and put the dog in a distraction mode by tossing treats either to catch or snatch up off the ground also I carry a tennis ball with me since the dog loves to play catch. So soon as I see another dog on a leash I call the dogs name in a excited voice and make a game of tossing treats or his tennis ball so far it’s been helping but you have to be patient and not react negative as your emotions go down the leash and will destroy your attempt at soothing your dogs anxieties. Just my thoughts like I said I am no pro but will never give up on my clients dog for I love him so much!

      1. Pack leader does not exist. Has been scientifically proven to be not a correct terminology for domesticated dogs. Dogs are reactive when they are unsure of themselves. Many times leash reactivity needs a intensive trainer to help.

      2. you keep saying this, but i paid tons of money for a certified dog trainer and it worked GREAT in the class room but didn’t stop AT ALL on the outside of class. he recommended a prong collar which doesn’t seem to help at all

        1. Something I’ve done that may be adding to your issues is trying “too much, too soon”. My pibble behaves PERFECTLY in the house on a leash, where she learned, was bananas on a walk. I was asking her to do too much, too soon. With her, I couldn’t go directly from inside training to regular walks. I had to go out in the back yard and practice. I went to places I knew it was unlikely other dogs would be and practiced. I went on walks in the neighborhood very early and very late and practiced. Even after that, if I saw another dog coming, we turned and went the other way because she gets too excited. I have to catch it VERY early – perked ears, head comes up – I don’t even know what she’s paying attention to sometimes – and we turn and walk away while continuing the training. It’s led to some very long and very short walks, but it’s working.

  3. I am having the same problem. My border collie/lab mix, almost 2 has developed real aggression towards other dogs when on the leash. This is exacerbated by my little dog doing the same. It becomes almost impossible to walk them because of this. Both of them are super friendly and not aggressive in any other way. Diversion tactics don’t work because they become so focused on the other dog, even at a distance

    1. This is my problem as well. I have a Great Dane and a Great Dane Shephard mix. They’ve both been trained and they go to puppy care where the trainers say they are fine when on a leash and going past other dogs. But with me nope. However, they aren’t going to do anything, they just want to smell the other dog etc. I know this because said Great Dane once broke his leash ran up to a lab and just did puppy play bow while hopping around it. But they can’t handle being on a leash and having dogs come straight at them or at me depending on how they are interpreting it. And people in my neighborhood seemingly have not appreciation for how dogs will react preferring instead to think they should just do whatever even if the other owner is trying to get their dogs out of the way of a potential interaction, and disregarding how little room there is on our paths and not caring because everyone should get out of their way and not respecting the dogs.

    2. Why are you allowing them to focus on other dogs?? I’m assuming you are hanging onto the leashes while they drag you around in whichever direction they want to go…

          1. LOL! But seriously Lana, why are you trolling? I’m guessing some (if not all) of us have already tried training with a qualified professional. It’s expensive and doesn’t always help.

        1. Jane – My thoughts exactly! Ms. Smiley seems to be heck bent on domination. Which, done in what I can imagine would be her style, would only serve to make for a more nervous and fearful animal and excacerbate the problem.

    3. I also have a lab/border collie 2 years old. Plays great with dogs off leash, just started being aggressive on leash. Going to work with her, if needed will try trainer. We were in vets office so I’m sure that added to her reaction.

    4. My 10 yr old Tibetan terrier mix has leash aggression. He can run and play in the park or the beach, or mainly walk around on his own as he seems to prefer, in the dog park. But once on the leash I just cannot let him go nose to nose or nose to butt with any other dog. Strangely he will stand still, tail wagging and looking all friendly, give them 2 seconds of false friendship then the lip goes up and he lunges. I also have a little 6 ur old poodle, very placid, great on and off the lead but he is now starting to want to confront dogs too, likes he’s picking it up from the TT. Then I wonder if the TT doesn’t the poodle to make friends and he’s trying to keep other potential pals at bay. Confused is not even close. Any advice appreciated.

  4. I have two small dogs, cross breeds chichuahua and french bulldog. Neither have had training, the chichuahua was kept by his previous owners in a cage most of his first year and then given to us, no socialisation for him and showed lead aggression from the start. The French bulldog is behaving in the same way in fact she is now more agressive than him when meeting other dogs while on a lead.
    I have had enough of the two dogs totally out of control and now have started to receive threats from a couple who own a puppy who threatened us that we should not be seen in the local recreation area by them again otherwise we will be sorry. I have to say that apart from these two individuals all other dog owners understand dog behaviour and I apologise over and over again and yes have run out of places to divert to where we can relax and enjoy our walks.
    I have now developed strain problems with my right arm just trying over and over again to hold on to them during these episodes.
    I am very disappointed and don’t know what to do now.


  5. My boxer does it to people too, not just other dogs. It winds up my other dog and then they tussle, all growls and teeth, while I hang on to their leads trying to keep control. It is so bad that I get up at 3.45 am to walk them alone in the fields! I know the boxer has SERIOUS anxiety issues, he wouldn’t even eat as a puppy because he was, and still is to some extent, afraid of the food bowl. I’m going to ask the vet for fluoxetine and call in a behaviourist if all else fails. I can’t easily train him with treats on the go as I can’t twist down to him to give them. Not that he is really interested in treats other than cheese!

    1. Its not a treat situation; its a leadership/training lack which is anxiety producing for your dogs
      You need training and handling skills.

  6. My husband walks our large (120lb) sweet rescue twice daily She has been with us 5 years She is well socialized with most dogs and all ages of people
    There are 2 small dogs in our neighborhood that set her off into almost uncomfortable aggression.
    My husband has had to wrap her leash around a pole on more than one occasion to control her while the other owner literally runs away.
    Any advice would be appreciated
    So stressful for all

    1. Get professional help. You are not your dog’s pack leader- she is because you aren’t. I carry pepper spray for dogs like yours when I walk my dogs…

      1. I hope I never run into you. You sound like a very unhappy unsupportive person per your comments. I feel sorry for you.

      2. I hope I never run into someone like you. Pepper spray? Please stop commenting on everyone’s posts just to shame then. They are here to gather helpful information not be crucified by an internet bully. No thanks Lana!

      3. Lana sounds like you have some sort of issue. I’m a trainer as well for over 20 years. Your simplistic answer every time of go see a trainer and scolding people who genuinely are asking for help is sad

        1. Lana, you just seem like an incredibly aggressive person. Perhaps there is a need for a professional trainer (for you).

      4. I’ve met grumpy people like you. Get professional help. You are not able to correct your behaviour on your own, or possibly not even see the hot mess that you are. In any case, get help, good luck.

      5. Oh dear I think you need to seek profession al help! Do you not have any other comment to make except repeating get a trainer ? Not helpful really

      6. Your methods would appear to frighten an animal even more. Furthermore, most current research has debunked the “Pack Leader/Alpha Theory”
        Finally- anyone that is following this thread has read your ENDLESS advice posts (that all recommend the same thing), and obviously read on for a different opinion.

      7. You suck, Lana. You have human leash aggression. We are all just trying to relate and learn something here. Get the F* off the comment section, you’re pissing everyone off.

  7. I have a 3 year old 65 lb European boxer and a huskie, lab, boxer mix 2 yr old 90 lb. Huskie was a rescue about a year ago. I was walking them and a neighbor dog was out and the boxer got very aggressive towards the huskie.
    This happened 3 times in the last week, but not before that. It was hot out the first 2 times and I thought it was too much.
    Recently we had a friendly “mutt” stay with us for a week. It took the boxer 2 days to warm up to the other dog in our fenced yard. She was aggressive, but was very territorial and growled.
    Advice welcome. Thank You.

    1. Think you’re in over your head. Make a project of learning K9 psychology and acquire some training skills – sooner the better!

      1. I wonder what kind of person would leave such unkind and misguided comments. Dominance based training and the pack leader mentality is a thing of the past and is not considered an effective or compassionate way to train dogs. The above article has some good points and there are many good books and online articles that support positive training when dealing with leash aggression.

      2. Some one needs to send you to a professional trainer to teach
        You when to shut your mouth! People are here for help not your judgemental opinion!

  8. Dogs are a pack animal and will establish a hierarchy among those they live with. Are you a leader or a follower? Educate yourselves before acquiring dogs!

    1. I think you are deluded Lana if you think it’s that simple .
      I have a show dog that mixes with all breeds at dog shows and will stand with them in the preparation area but when she was a puppy a dog on a walk tried to attack her . So now when on her daily walks she will act aggressively when walking towards a dog .
      This only ever happens on a dog walk . I am a professional show person and have good knowledge of dog ownership but yet I still struggle with this . So stop with your insulting comments to people who are not all bad pet owners as you seem to think .
      God help you if you ever sprayed my dog with pepper spray on a walk .

      1. Yasssss, sis. Lana, you are not in line with Orvis’ chill, dog loving values. I feel so sorry for your pets. You are mean and aggressive. Find a new dog training chat to get in on. You seem like a dog torturer/sadist. Buh-bye!

    2. I think you have watched too much Dog Whisperer and now think you are an expert. Do you have to respond to every post with the same answer?

    3. Lana Smiley I think you are the one who needs to learn how to interact, especially on social forums such as this one. People are looking to the wider community for help and guidance not arrogance from individuals who believe they are the only ones with the answer. You are clearly uneducated and your comments are rude and totally unacceptable, you should be blocked from making any further comments. Have a great day!

    4. You have done nothing but have a rude response to every thread I have read Lana. While reading actual training material you are not to use pepper spray on another animal because it can not only get in the dogs face you are trying to keep away from you but it can get in your eyes or your dogs eyes . For some one who acts as though they are the dog whisper , even though none of what you say has relevance, I wonder do you know someone who has a training school so you troll around and keep parroting the same responses . I recommend you go to a human psychologist and see what issues you have about yourself that feel so comfortable behind a computer screen shaming people asking for help .

      1. LOL let’s just call Lana, Karen. She’s the Kare bear at the dog park threatening everyone while holding her dog by the neck. You’ve been dominated Kare. Now, chill.

    5. Lana, in the simple paradigm of “leaders” & “followers,” I presume you unequivocally view yourself as a “leader.” Interestingly, you have no (human) “followers” on this thread…

    6. Lol, Lana, the old school “leader of the pack” theory is outdated and incorrect. Since your dog skills seem commensurate with your people skills I would guess your only friends are the ones you take for walks. Even then, I wonder if they fear you or see you as their leader or just another leash aggressive associate they have to tolerate in order to eat what you provide. I too carry pepper spray, for people like you.

  9. I have a 7 month old Doberman that starting to bark and lunge towards other dogs on our walk but is dog friendly otherwise. The treat thing seems to work sometimes to divert his attention and have him focus on me, other times he’s in the zone and isn’t worried about that treat and will bark. I also do it when passing other people because he tries to go up to everyone to say hello. Hoping with continued training it stops all together and he can learn his manners.

  10. Have had my dog for 2 years now and she was great with other dogs until she suddenly attacked another dog at the park. We don’t go back anymore. I have spent close to $1000 on a vet behaviorist and meds and she’s a little better but suddenly regressed to leash aggression. She is so strong she jerked the leash out of my hand and went after another dog the other day who was thankfully ok. But I am at my wits end why 20x the right training seems to work for her and then that “one time” she’ll snap. I’m so afraid I will have to have her put down. No amount of treat training, trying muzzles or meds seems to help….

  11. Hi there, my Maggie is a 3 year old rescue. We have worked very hard with her over the years as she had terrible separation anxiety and leash aggression. It’s been tough but she was in a very good place, that was until 3 weeks ago when she was attacked by another dog that was off leash. It was an unprovoked attack, Maggie was on leash and we had stepped away from the dog who was greeting our lab Bonnie. He couldn’t get at her neck as we had a heavy coat on her but she had a severe crush injury to her left shoulder and elbow. My problem is she is just awful now with any other dogs. I was in tears yesterday walking her and Bonnie as she went nuts when we saw two dogs. So much so the owners looked at me like I was a terrible person and Maggie a monster. She’s a very sweet girl and she has Addison’s so we are supposed to keep her stress levels down. Does anyone have a suggestion on how to help my very loving girl?

    Any suggestions from anyone except Lana would be very welcome. Thank you in advance for the help.

    1. Get professional help. You are not your dog’s pack leader (Just kidding 🙂

      I’m no expert, but to start off you can do it similar to training for leash aggression, and you praise her and give her treats when she doesn’t react badly to other dogs from a safe distance. She needs to relearn how to socialize with other dogs much like when she was a puppy, but do this with very well socialized dogs who are less likely to scare her, rather than with “randos” in the dog park. A dog trainer may have access to suitable dogs for this, so that she can collect good memories of meeting new dogs again.

  12. I’m eager to try these techniques out. We adopted our 3 year old dog, two years ago. She was extremely leash reactive towards people but very few dogs when we first rescued her, more so when I would walk her. We knew from the rescue that she was not fond of men, but she was fine with my husband and walked fine on leash for him. We figured her reactive behavior on leash had something to do with her feeling the need to protect me. We worked on this issue, and after a short time, I was able to walk her past people without any issues. She is not reactive to all dogs, but only some. Unfortunately, now I think her reactive behavior stems from her sensing my anxiety because I never know what dog she may be reactive to. I try to not overthink it when I see another dog, but sometimes I cannot help it. If I don’t want to deal with a possible altercation, I change my route if I can. I’m leery of keeping the leash too slack because I want to be able to keep her controlled should a need arise. She walks next to me, unless I let her leash out longer to give her space to sniff and explore. Should I allow the leash to say slack, but enforce that she remain at my side at all times? Our last dog was never leash reactive toward other dogs, but we had adopted her at a much younger age. I feel that this dog was never properly socialized as a puppy (based on what we know about her first home, I don’t even think she was walked on a leash at any point). Any suggestions are welcome. And yes, I know that training is an option.

    1. Just wanted to add, that she has started to become leash reactive toward other dog when my husband walks her too. Not often, but occasionally. He definitely walks her with much more slack in the leash than I do, and I know he’s more calm assertive with her than I am. I just want a calm, happy dog, and not one that feels the need to protect all the time.

  13. Our dog is normally fabulous on beach off leach chasing her ball … we where in water had our clothes on sand … and our dog of 19 months went for a dog whom was on a leach … we couldn’t believe it what would cause this .. we are very concerned as she’s normally a softy … but a large puppy …???

  14. Thank you everyone for making my day, not only did I get good insight on my rescue dog’s and I’s problems, I had a good laugh.

  15. Hi
    My dog,a whippet has been with other dogs since a pup she’s been with dog walkers 3 or 4 dogs at a time, her call back ect has been great,this is my 3rd whippet so sight hound habits we are used to but since a fight with a FOX one morning at 3 am she has been a changed animal.Meeting dogs at the park and on street walks she can be fine at first and then becomes aggressive, alone she loves chasing the ball and her call back is still good ,great with the grandchildren and a playful dog. Any ideas ?

  16. Very good YouTube video by The dog guardian. Nigel Reed. How to stop your dog barking and lunging at visitors and dogs;aggression. Demonstrates exactly what you need to do. I’m very fond of online training videos. Hope this is helpful.

  17. Ali Z. thank you for your in depth replies. I rescued an older lab pointer mix 2 months ago. Poor guy was not neutered and lived 95% of his 9year life hooked to a chain in his California yard. He is so sweet at home and happy. He was full of worms, skin and bones when I got him. He looks gr8 now. I just want him to have a happy ending. He didn’t do gr8 at the dog park. He was VERY territorial/marking. I took him twice. He started to get into it both times, hackles up. No socialization. Also, discovered his reactiveness on walks when he sees another dog. I want to say, I appreciated all of your suggestions. I shall see how he does in due time. No more dog parks for him. Besides he has a playmate (dog) that he sees regularly at a friends and loves. Also, he is neutered now thanks to the rescue group that saved him. I am going to start with him with the training using special occassion treats. Crossing fingers that his deep seated behaviors can be reversed Im not counting on it though. His history explains a lot but he is worth trying to help. Thank you again for the gr8 advise in this thread. It reinforces and reminds me of what I learned years ago but never had to use with my JRT that I raised from a pup. Hugs and appreciation. Kodi.

  18. I have two 9 month old Boston’s, they are perfect off leash for the most part but when walked together they loose their mind and bark and lunge. However is walked separately no issues arise.

    How do I fix this ?! I do not want to always walk them separately.

  19. Hi all! I purchased my Aussie, Indy, from a breeder at almost 6 months of age. She said he was never socialized. I can only imagine he was kept in the kennel all day and my heart breaks for him. When I bought him he was introduced to my other Aussie, Remi, at the time who was three. After six months of being together and connected to the hip, my ex and I broke up and I took the younger of the two Aussies (the one who was never socialized) As my first time being a pet owner I didn’t think anything of this. Yes he was definitely cautious when I went to meet him but he didn’t bark, was actually very quiet. But you could still tell he was a little scared. He instantly warmed up to the family and anyone he met. The barking began maybe a month or so after bringing him home. I just thought okay he’s barking. Totally normal. I would take both dogs on walks and Indy was the only one to bark. It wasn’t until Indy and I moved into our new neighborhood where the aggression started. He began to bark and pulled more than normal. So I decided it was time to hire a trainer. I quickly found out Indy does not like being looked at directly in the face. Every other person in the test group to see where Indy’s aggression lied he was fine with. He was definitely anxious to be there though. I was constantly licking his lips. A couple more training sessions later and out of the blue Indy bit me during a walk. I was talking to a neighbor and a woman walked by with her two dogs that were out of control which triggered Indy to react. He was sitting and perfectly content prior to the dogs walking by and barking/lunging. The bite was so severe that it drew blood. I did not yell at him because I could tell he didn’t mean it. I then purchased a basket muzzle for him which he has yet to get used to. I was putting peanut butter on his so he could lick it during our walks and I even had backup treats and nothing has helped. He is a joy at our off the leash dog park but on every day walks it’s a constant battle. He also doesn’t do well around runners or bikes. Anything on wheels really. I’m not sure what else to do at this point. I feel like I’m letting him down because I can’t imagine this is fun for him either. Any help is appreciated.


  20. I was beginning to think I had the only dog in the world like this! At home they go nuts when someone comes to the door but soon settle once the person is inside. Outside, walking on a leash, whole different story. Both of ours are rescues from different places at different times. Together in the house they are generally fine… play, sleep and eat together.
    Outside when ever another dog comes even slightly near, the 11 year old (we think) female barks and pulls but we can get her under control easily. The 8 year old male goes nuts. He tries to get out of his harness, walking and pulling backwards away from me to get loose. We used to live in a more remote area and saw very few dogs so it wasn’t a problem. However we recently moved to an apartment with lots of dogs in the area. Someone even threatened to kill him this morning if he ever got loose and attacked his dog! I’m at my wits end but reading some of the previous comments has given me a bit of hope.

    1. my dog will only go for others dog who are on a lead, if he sees another dog without a lead he is fine but a dog on a lead he goes nuts.

  21. Hello — owner of Os- a golden doodle Aussie mix. Fantastic dog no aggression— we have 3 other dogs we play with most mornings. But there is this weird thing that happens between him and the boxer. If I leash Os to go & get in car my friends boxer attacks him as if they hadn’t just been playing together for 20 minutes… we know it’s the leash but she’s not sure how to correct behavior in boxer. Very stressful- I know solution is “just don’t leash your dog in his presence” — but a permanent correction would be better.

  22. I feel like I have learned so much from your post, I appreciate a community that cares so much for our furry friends! I have 2 cock-a-poo’s, I got them both at 8 weeks. I went through 3 rounds of puppy school for both, which we enjoyed thoroughly. They are now 5 years old and have terrible leash aggression, they are normally delightful dogs. I believe they are being protective of me and now I do get anxious when we encounter other dogs so I am sure they feel that too. I did find these CDB treats for dog anxiety which seem to work, I might try those before a walk. It’s really hard when you are walking 2 dogs to control both properly if they are being leash aggressive but I will try treats too.
    One note though, I am all for Professional Dog trainers ( and may go that route) but please not Everyone can afford them.
    God spelled backwards Dog ! I love that!

  23. I need some serious help. We recently adopted a 2 year old who used to be a stray. She is perfect and totally obedient but when she sees another dog on a leash she tries to attack them. We haven’t tried meeting another dog off the leash yet. Should we?

  24. Don’t be blind. You are missing the danger signs. If a car is roaring toward you only an idiot would stand still. Non aggressive dogs don’t charge at people. You are being slow. Your dog don’t like people coming close to you? Why would anyone want your dog, who has this behavior to charge them while they stand still. Time to stop making excuses for aggressive acting dogs. Calling an aggressive dog a sweetheart don’t keep him from attacking others when he takes a notion of to do so.

  25. My 4year old dog is aggressive to all types of dogs. She cannot be left off the leash when on walks.
    She has attacked another dog 2 years ago and has to be muzzled.
    At home in the house she is adorable but goes crazy in the garden if another dog comes in sight.

  26. I took my puppy from a dog foster home about a year ago. I love him to bits; he has a great personality, and I feel that he loves our family so much, but he barks A LOT… So, leaving home is always a challenge for us. My husband and I were thinking about taking him to ‘doggy school’, but then again, it’s extremely expensive, and the nearest ‘doggy school’ is far away from us. Maybe you have some advice? THANK YOU!!!

  27. I have been reading all the comments I have a jack Russell he is a rescue dog he was 7 when I got him he shows aggressive behaviour when on lead there was no history on him I had dog trainer had private lessons and classes but dog trainer give up on us so I just walk around the streets where I live when I put him into kennels I always told them he didn’t get on with other dogs he went to new kennels and when I picked him up a few days ago they let him mix with few dogs and he was running around with 20 dogs enjoying himself they told me to take him to a dog park and let him off I feel I have missed out enjoying him as he is now 15 and has health problem and I might not have him for much longer

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