You’re getting ready to head out for walk with your beloved dog. The feeling of anxiety and stress start to completely overwhelm you as you grab your leash. You’re hoping the streets will be quiet and you won’t encounter anyone on your walk.
Why? Because your dog is aggressive on leash.
How did you get here??
To make this easy for you to see, I will list points to show you how you got here. Remember this is all while the dog is on leash.
You allowed people to pet your dog
You allowed dogs to approach your dog
You allowed your dog to pull you towards people
You allowed your dog to pull you towards dogs
You allowed your excited dogs behaviour to be reinforced
You taught your dog that while the leash is on, you are irrelevant.
You taught your dog that whining to get to what he wants, works.
You allowed your dog to get excited over squirrels or cats, because its what dogs do.
You pet your dog to reassure them they were okay when they would whine or bark.
You never taught your dog to just relax, walk with you and not worry about anything.
While you read over the list from 1- 10 above. Below is what is happening with your dogs behaviour.
Excitement- Dog is friendly and wants to go say hi to everyone
Reinforcement – Allowing excited dog to pull towards dog/person while excited
Restraint-Holding your dog back physically when he is excited
Reward – Petting or feeding your dog while they are excited
Frustration – Barking, whining, lunging, growling pulling and overall panic to see person/dog
Your end result to this is simple, aggression.
You are now in avoidance due to overexposure
The problem with overexposure while the dog is on leash is, it isn’t actually teaching them any good manners. We are doing the complete opposite of what they require. It is easy for them to get distracted and over stimulated by their environment. We need to stop reinforcing it and actually teach them a valuable skill.
Our dogs are constantly communicating with us. The problem is we don’t really listen to them until they start to vocalize their dislikes. Most dogs do not actually enjoy being pet by strangers or having other dogs charge up into their space. They will tolerate it because they trust you but what happens when the trust runs out??
The interactions are being done with people and dogs you don’t know. If you keep allowing your dog to be a walking petting zoo, the chances are he will eventually explode and try to escape.