View Full Version : Dog aggresion but only on lead??

Ali and Oscar
15th May 2010, 01:18 PM
I was wondering if any of you has any experience with this its rather strange..
Our male cavalier is very aggresive with other dogs on the lead. He was neutered quite late (4 years) so it might have something to do with that but it is really quite strange because off lead he has none of the outright aggresion that he has on the lead http://greatdaneireland.com/Smileys/SoLoSMiLeYS1/huh.gif For instance, once I was walking him on the lead and he spotted a collie hanging out across the road. He immediatly started his barking and growling and pulling so I just walked on but he managed to BREAK his lead( I didn't let go he actually snapped the bit attatched to his collar! cheap leads...) and ran straight accross the road infront of a car barking aggresively! I panicked but the minute he got to the dog he just sniffed it and walked back across the road right back to me! Really weird! Sometimes if he meets dogs off lead he will give a litte warning growl but never attack them, and other times he will walk up wagging his tail! One thing I've noticed is off lead if he does see another dog he runs straight at it with force but just sniffs them friendily, and if the other dog growls or anything he just walks off and doesn't take it as a challenge. On the lead he would attack another dog, he doesn't discriminate with size either!. I just don't understand him sometimes.... We haven't really done much about it since we walk him in off lead areas but it would be nice to walk him around my estate without him trying to attack every dog! Or to take him to the shops with me like I do my other dogs, I feel bad when I'm going to the shops and I have to leave him. I tried distracting him with a treat or sound diversion and it kind of works but not really.. any ideas?

Kate H
17th May 2010, 09:09 PM
I noticed no one had responded to your query, so I'll just say that this is very usual for the simple reason that dogs feel very insecure on lead - if there is trouble, they can't run to escape it. My Cavalier can be the same - having been attacked several times by staffies, he will bark at them on-lead; loose in the park, he is fine with them. He's also a bit protective of my younger rescue, who's worried by bigger dogs.

You can also accidentally reinforce this behaviour by putting the dog on the lead when another dog approaches, or even pulling him closer to you - you think you are averting a problem, the dog may well think that YOU are scared of the other dog and need his protection. Dogs don't always think like humans!

Something I have found helps with Oliver is to train him to watch you for a titbit, then keep a sharp lookout for when another dog approaches and before you get close to him, tell your dog to sit and watch you, facing away from the approaching dog and focusing on the titbit in your hand. If I can't take avoiding action, and Oliver starts creating, he gets a good telling off! Do you take your Cavalier to training class - you'd have plenty of other dogs to practise on there! And people to help.

This problem was raised on the forum some time ago, and Karlin referred us to a good article about it - it may still be in the archive. You could try searching for 'on-lead aggression' or something similar and see if you can find it.

Kate, Oliver and Aled

17th May 2010, 09:30 PM
Definitely get your dog into group obedience classes. If if he already knows sit, down, stay, etc... he NEEDS more socialization around other dogs while being on a leash. Leash aggression is very common simply because the dogs cannot rely on their fight or flight instinct; the flight reaction on lead is not an option so they automatically go into fight mode. Your boy just needs to learn being on lead is ok because you are there to protect him.

A training class will give him regular exposure to other dogs on a leash, while you guys practice obedience giving him a nice distraction. For now on walks, I have found squirt bottles work very well to break the concentration on something when your dog is not interested in treats or toys. A quick squirt in the face (with just water) is enough to get them to go "woah what was that?" so that you can get their attention afterwords, and redirect his attention onto you :)

murphy's mum
19th May 2010, 06:49 PM
Misty has a similar problem on the lead. She gets very agitated if she see's another dog or a cat whist she is on the lead. She strains towards them, barking and yowling like crazy. If she is off lead and meets a dog she is fine, never barks or anything. We went to a puppy class after we got her(she's a 4 y.o rescue), she was perfect all during the class, never pulled or displayed any usual manic behaviour.

When I asked the dog trainer about it she said Misty was frustrated, and was simply wanting to get to the other dog quicker. And that it should never be confused with aggression. As owners get uptight during this, the dog can pick up on it, and as we often drag our dogs away from this situation it can result in the dog getting even more frustrated.

Has your dog had much socialization? This behaviour can also result from him being frightened of strange dogs. If he is frightened and gets led away from the "scary" dog, this reinforces the behaviour, as he will think by barking the "scary" dog will always go away.

For now on walks, I have found squirt bottles work very well to break the concentration on something when your dog is not interested in treats or toys. A quick squirt in the face (with just water) is enough to get them to go "woah what was that?" so that you can get their attention afterwords, and redirect his attention onto you :)

Personally I would never use this technique for dealing with this problem :(

20th May 2010, 11:18 PM
This is not unusual at all, unfortunately. As was covered before, the frustration from not being able to move freely combined with either fear/nervousness from other dogs or the inability to greet other dogs can quickly escalate to aggressive behavior.

Leashes cut off normal behavior. Dogs feel restrained (because they are!) They make the normal circular, "soft," and angular, approaches almost impossible, and the polite "first name, then last name" sniffs usually cannot happen. For this reason most trainers recommend no on-leash greetings ever. They are fraught with peril and if the dogs learns to never expect it, some of the frustration may dissipate.

To address your problem, I would recommend working on desensitizing/counter-conditioning seeing other dogs. Bring lots of insanely great treats. When your dog first notices another dog, but when the dog is still far enough away that her reaction is mild (ear prick. looking but not staring...etc.) feed her the food. After some treats, stop the approach and turn away. Repeat. Over time you should be able to gradually close the distance.

You are teaching your dog two things:
1) Dogs predict yummy treats.
2) Look at Mom when you see a dog.

You are not rewarding anything. You are changing her opinion. If she gets too agitated to eat, you are too close. Get out and start again.

Hope that helps.

21st May 2010, 11:45 AM
Great post from egoebelbecker - thanks for that, I would also recommend the article posted by Karlin...

You are extremely fortunate to live in Dublin as you have the best training centre in the world for Cavaliers, http://www.dogtrainingireland.ie/home.php, I would strongly suggest contacting Tara or Lisa there, I'm sure they would be able to help you.