So....Leash Aggression?

Posted by sara-brightman
Jun 11, 2014
Hi there!
I have a bit of an issue with my 1 yr. old, male, pure Shepard mix, Loki. He was a rescue pup in pretty bad condition when the shelter found him at 11 weeks old. We were blessed to adopt him right around him being 3.5 months. It took him a few weeks to realize that we weren't going to leave him or take him back. He would follow us around right on our heels and if we even breathed too loud, he would perk up to make sure we were all alright.
We did not put him into a formal training program, but we were pretty successful in training him well ourselves. Beginning in January of this year (9 mo. old) we enrolled him into a daycare in which he can play with other dogs all day.
From the beginning, we knew it was very important for Loki to get acquainted with other dogs and to feel comfortable in approaching an unknown dog and hopefully, being able to play positively together. As soon as all of his immunizations were complete, we started taking him to the local dog park. He was thrilled with all the space to run and explore! We also noticed that he would stay by us at the park and watch the other dogs for awhile first, before he ventured their way to say hello. But once Loki met a new friend, he would play very well! Obviously, being a puppy he was way too energetic for some but Loki was able to sense their desire to rest and he would be able to part ways from playing just fine.
We began noticing that right about the time he began daycare, anytime he would be on his leash, he would go nuts. Pulling, yanking, barking, growling. It literally sounds as if he is a killer dog about to attack any and all that are in his line of vision. And there is no stopping him once he sees another dog or person, he does not hear anything we say to him. I have even had to practically sit on him just to get him to stop fighting the leash and choking himself from pulling so hard. The biggest thing though, besides the obvious embarrassment, is that we really do know that he means well in his terrible barks. He simply wants to greet whoever else and play. It's almost as if he is just so excited he can't contain himself and can't wait for them to get closer to him so he can play and make a new friend, and is almost upset at us or the leash because it's preventing him from being able to do what he wants. This happens any and every time he is connected to his leash. When people are passing by, other dogs, even children, whom he otherwise gets along with fantastically. He even has this behavior when he arrives at daycare before we have gotten him in the door and off the leash.

Why has this begun all of a sudden without any type of cause? What does this type of behavior mean? How can we teach him to stop this aggression and get him to where he is fine on a leash? How can we get him to vocalize things in a less ferocious manner and more of a friendly tone so we don't scare off anyone on accident? Please help? I hate seeing my monkeybutt, Loki put himself through the pain of being choked and the negative responses he gets from his death barks. He is such a sweet, loving, playful, and cuddly little stinker who only wants to be loved and played with. He doesn't have an ounce of mean in him and I want others to be able to know this too.
Posted by Preethi KOP
Jun 15, 2014
Hi Sara,

Thanks for that detailed description of the issue with Loki, it will certainly make it easier for us to help you solve it.

From what you have said, it appears that Loki started this behaviour around the time he hit puberty. It is probably his version of a messy room/constant retorts that most teens take their parents through, haha! I am very glad to hear that it is just an excitement issue rather than leash aggression that we are dealing with, sorting it out should be much easier. Have you tried a head-halter on him? These things work wonders on dogs that need leash manners. I think if you combine the above with some serious alpha training you should be able to get him under control. Please have a read through the bonus book on alpha training and start implementing the strategies suggested in there. With training, it might be best to first take him on a doggie play date and tire him out nicely before attempting to leash train him (he will hopefully be a little easier to control at this stage).

Please do give the above a try and keep us posted on your progress. We hope he responds well to the head-halter (fingers crossed for you!)

All the best with training!

Kind regards,