Controlling the beast
I'm sure everyone who walks their dog on a regular basis has crossed paths with a not so friendly dog on a leash. Typically the owner of these dogs is mortified; which they should not be, it is alot more common than not. In our world of leash laws; we have taken away our dogs ability to freely communicate. Correspondence get lost as the leash tightens. And as we humans tend to do; as the leash tightens igniting a frenzy from our dogs, we are sent into a stress induced adrenaline rush. So not only are we left with a dog that needs work; we need even more work.
Just the other day I had Luke out for a really nice walk; it was cool, we were relaxed and enjoying the fresh morning. Up ahead was a woman I'd seen before; two doxie's (weiner dogs) that were a bit feisty but nothing had happened before. This fact could have been because I usually give feisty a good big space. But this morning was different; one of the little dogs went off on Luke and slipped his collar which enabled him to charge us. He made impact and Luke countered his tiny attack; I pulled Luke in and the woman grabbed her dog. I quickly kicked into chill mode "whoa; that was pretty weird eh Luke?" This is imperative; and we happy continued our walk unphased. And I should add that the woman did not apologize for this attack; please always apologize.
There is another dog that we see regularly at the park; this is not a small dog but it acts in the same manner. The problem is with this one is that it looks like the gentleman who walks this dog is just barely hanging on. No one wants to see a big dog going crazy on the end of the leash with someone who looks like they are loosing their grip; literally. Control is the first issue; you need to make sure that this dog is not going to slip their collar or slip out of your hands. Had the doxie that went after Luke gone after one of the other dogs at the park; things could have turned out very different for the little dog.
Along with control is space; you must give yourself enough space to calm the beast. When you start working with a dog that has leash aggression issues you need to go far enough away from what causes the problem to alleviate the problem, then start there. Often sight alone starts it all so you may need to be 40-50 feet away to start teaching the calm. But the first thing that needs to be worked on is your own calm and knowing that your dog is firmly attached by their collar or harness and that you are capable of holding the leash is a starting point. When you know your dog is securely attached and that you have good control; calm is within reach for you. Having a flustered owner on the other end of the leash only fuels a leash aggressive dog.
So take a breath; chill, hold tight and get some distance. Now go walk your dog.