Don't be fooled by an aggressive outburst from a passerby. How many times have you been on a walk with your dog and been the victim of what seems to be an aggressive outburst from a dog on the other side of the street? Usually their guardian is cringing from embarassement or pulling like a mad fool to stop the show. I know I have been the victim many times which has made my job of teaching my own dogs not to do this; that much more difficult. Tilley of course does not do this, remember she is my perfect dog ;)
Jessie use to do it; but does not anymore. She is a a stick of dynamite with other dogs and it was no easy feat to teach her to contain herself. But after much treat dispensing she doesn't usually bother unless they throw her an evil glance. Luke is my best example of leash aggression although he rarely displays anymore. At the age of 7 he is a pretty good and much more mellow boy.
The unusual thing about Luke and the best example of true leash aggression is the fact that Luke is so good with other dogs; when off leash. Off leash is the key word here, on leash and off leash are two entirely different situations for a dog. Many, many dogs display aggressively when onleash much to the dismay of their guardians. So why do dogs who typically get along wonderfully with other dogs become so aggressive while on a leashed walk.
There are several factors why dogs can act aggressive.
1. they have lost the flight part of "fight or flight" which leaves them feeling stressed.
2. we tend to pull on a dog when approaching other dogs which changes their body language and removes their ability to communicate properly.
3. they are very close to us which can cause a guarding behavior to kick in.
4. they can sense stress from us.
5. we do all the wrong behaviors ourselves to help in the situation.
What you need to do is convince your dog that having other dogs around is a great thing. Get your dogs mind off of the other dog and onto you. Teach catch is one the greatest tools for this. If you teach your dog to catch really well you can use it while walking. They can't catch yummy treats and be paying attention to other dogs can they? Catching yummy treats does three things.
1. Keeps their attention on you.
2. Rewards them for catching and paying attention.
3. Puts a positive association on having other dogs walk by.
But the most important thing your need to remember is to remain calm yourself. If you get all flustered and start yanking on the leash, your dog immediately knows something is wrong. They see the dogs and associate it with the negative behavior from you. Don't forget your dog is leashed so they are going anywhere, so calm down.
Get in the habit of singing a happy song or giving your dog happy talk as soon as they see another dog. This will help you to stay calm.