Leash aggression is a hassle, it can be unpredictable and very embarrassing. This is probably one of the most common issues that canine guardians deal with. From the tiniest of pocket pooches to the whopper Giant breeds it can happen to anyone. Even if your dog is very dog friendly; leash aggression can be an issue.
Within my own three dogs I have one who regularly shows leash aggression, one who displays every so often and one who would never consider such an rude behavior outbreak; that would be my perfect Tilley. Jessie is very reliable with her leash aggression; her objective in life is to let anyone who doesn't already know that she is the queen of the world, just who Jessie is.
And then there is my perfect case scenario leash aggression example; Luke. Luke is by far my most social dog; he loves other dogs, doesn't like to fight and will run off to play with someone else if the dog wants to fight. He is a complex dog; not a simple Simon. He does like to display and he loves to intimidate; this because he is bottom man at home.
On a casual walk we will see someone else heading our way; looks like a nice couple, nice dog. As we get closer I get Luke's attention calmly; very calmly. Calm is the answer for leash aggression; the minute you start to reign in the leash, your done for. This takes a whole lot more practice on the humans part than the dog.
The whole problem that leads to leash aggression is infact THE LEASH. The leash restricts movement, alters body language, keeps your dog close to you causing a guarding reaction and is the link from your brain to theirs. Most dogs who display leash aggression every so often are great off leash; Luke is. But not Jessie; she still has her little Queen agenda off or on leash.
You need to create a "no big deal" attitude about walking near other dogs. As well as associating a big positive about walking by other dogs. Being able to communicate with your dog is very important; sometimes a dog will "lock on," and it can become difficult to get through to them. They see a dog; fix their stare and there they stay until the final moment when they lunge; not good.
"Catch," is a great behavior in my house and one that I use when I need to breakthrough. "Watch me," is another good exercise; a dog cannot do either of these behavior while displaying leash aggression. It gives the dog something positive to do and you something to keep your mind on.
Teaching your dog to be chill about walking past other dogs takes time and work. Do it somewhere you can get distance from the other dog, not in a downtown street where you are trapped for space. Be ever watchful; before your dog sees the other dog, without changing pace, without tightening up on the leash give them a "this way**," and cross the street.
Now you have room to work, keep moving. This is your big chance to show your dog that other dogs walking by means nothing. Chat with your dog, very upbeat happy talk but calm and not excited. Do not change the grip on the leash and do not alter your walking speed. Bring out your treats, and they'd best be good ones. Now use your "catch or watch me."
With time, patience, calmness and consistency your dog will follow your lead. But know that leash aggression can pop out at anytime. A sideways glance, a misunderstood approach, altered body language due to the big problem; the leash. The other person walking down the street is doing everything wrong, pulling on the leash which is creating a very happy dog to look like it is displaying dominance like crazy. So there is alot more to "leash aggression" than most think, but know that you are definitely not alone with your issues.
**This way - teaching your dog direction change verbal cues is very useful for many different scenarios. "This way" tells my dogs that I am changing direction; look at me and go this way. I use it on leash and off; it gets their attention immediately.