Is your dog lunging, barking, snarling or even snapping at others while on leash? This is sometimes known as leash-reactivity or leash aggression.
Suppose your dog would encounter something strange or scary or simply something brand new he would first like to evaluate for himself to maintain control over his situation: When off leash your dog would have the ability ( choice and control) to either explore something new at his own pace or back off to a distance where he would feel safe again and could then decide to try to explore again or find a way to pass the trigger or avoid it while staying in his comfort zone.
Once you put a leash on a dog he loses the ability to choose what he would do naturally. He might be forced into the stressful trigger zone and he reacts, usually by barking and/or lunging at whatever he cannot avoid. Common triggers could be anything from another dog or a guy on a skateboard or rollerblades to a balloon or a bearded person wearing a hat.
There are many ways you can teach your dog to feel more comfortable around these triggers. Start by learning how to predict what causes your dog stress in the first place. Then figure out how much space is required to keep your dog from being reactive. At that point you can start rewarding him greatly for remaining calm. You can then start to counter condition him to his triggers by classical or Pavlovian conditioning so when the dog sees a trigger he reacts with a new association like “roast beef” = “drool”.
Contact us at DogRelations for hands on help with leash aggression to successfully remedy this problem that is upsetting for both handler and dog. Also visit our other pages to learn about our other NYC dog training services.