Leash aggression part 1 – How does a dog become a leash rambo?

Leash aggression part 1 – How does a dog become a leash rambo?

You have probably seen a scene in which a dog loses sight of a fellow species, jumps on a leash, growls, barks and behaves like a wild animal. As the owner of a dog who apparently prefers to eat his peers with skin and fur, it is often difficult and very easy to get under the pressure from outside. Other dog owners (and everyone who sees the theater) give you pitying to outraged looks, change the side of the street from afar and shake their heads. Hey Fiffi trainer Daniela Maletzki wants to create a little understanding.

Imagine that you have a leash rambo: You are insulted and your dog is quickly stamped that it is malicious and dangerous. Your neighbors are already talking and no one in the family wants to voluntarily go out with the dog. You have to listen to things from all sides, such as: “You don’t have your dog under control” or “He’s badly brought up” or “You just have to take action properly, then the problem is solved !!” Your walk becomes a gauntlet run and soon you will know all the beaten tracks far from the way, the best hiding places behind trees and bushes and avoid any encounters with other dogs. You are embarrassed yourself and feel helpless because of your dog’s behavior. This was not how you imagined the leisurely stroll after work.

When is your dog a leash rambo?

There are dogs where these freaks are limited to one or two certain other dogs (the arch enemy) or dogs of certain looks (large and black, certain breeds) or of the same sex (Lumpi doesn’t like other males). But there are also dogs that do not make a big difference and first find every other dog proverbially stupid and also loudly announce this. Many of these dogs, who behave like a wild dog on a leash, are quite compatible with their peers in the free run, like to play and are friendly or even shy.
If you have a dog that is unproblematic in the free run and only makes a discount on the leash (there are of course generally incompatible dogs), then you are one of the owners of a so-called leash aggressive dog, also called leash rambo or leash mob.

Possible cause: bad or lack of experience

The reasons for this behavior can be varied, but maliciousness (contrary to the opinion of the neighbors of the other party) is not one of them. Perhaps your dog’s behavior is based on inadequate or incorrect (learning) experiences. With very sensitive dogs, a bad experience can actually be enough and they will live according to the motto “Attack is the best defense”.
What is a bad experience right now is that it varies greatly from dog to dog. A bad experience does not always mean “he was bitten”. A bad experience can be to have been run over, very scared and maybe even hurt. Perhaps the problem is also a lack of experience, for example if your dog grew up in a rural area and has seen few other dogs. If you then move to the city, where the dog density is greater and there are fewer alternatives, problems can arise.

Possible cause: frustration

Even if your dog likes and likes to play with them, it can develop a leash aggression under certain circumstances. Puppies and young dogs are often affected here, as they particularly encourage their interest in contact and play with their peers. Many owners like it if their puppy contacts other dogs whenever possible. Such a puppy does not learn to walk quietly past another dog or to wait until the other dog has passed. The puppy gets older and bigger very quickly and other dogs and their owners are less tolerant. The puppy, who has not yet learned that contact is not always possible and is increasingly prevented from doing so by the leash, develops a frustration that then often develops into aggression at some point.

Possible cause: Poorly managed puppies “play” hours

The idea of ​​bringing your puppy together with other dogs for socialization, if possible, is also the idea of ​​so-called puppy play hours. Unfortunately, this idea, which is basically not bad, is often implemented poorly. It is not really expedient to let puppies of any size and weight class “play” in large groups of six or more puppies. A group of so many bustling little dogs is difficult to control and supervise, and the puppies quickly experience unfavorable learning experiences. The big, strong, confident learn to use their advantages and often become bullies. The small, sensitive, fearful experience that they are afraid and have to defend themselves aggressively in order not to get under the wheels. Other dogs are already associated with excitement, stress, fear or frustration during this time. You can see this especially when the game is over and the much too excited young dog should learn now. The results often only show up at a later point in time, namely in the phase of growing up, when one speaks colloquially of puberty, and are no longer associated with the puppy age. The same applies to dogs that have lived for a long time (often abroad) in a poorly thought-out pack or have been brought to dog meadows and in free-range areas, where there are people who believe that the dog is off when the dog is released from the leash immediately has freedom of the fool and that they no longer have to look after their four-legged friends.

Possible cause: restrictions due to the leash

In addition to your dog’s previous experience, there is also the fact that your dog is severely restricted by the leash. As a result, polite communication is not possible or only possible to a limited extent. Your dog has often tried other strategies to avoid contact with other dogs. For example, he might have tried to dodge the oncoming dog, walk around a bow, stop, or sniff the de-escalating floor. Had he been successful, no further aggression would have been necessary. But: These strategies did not lead to success because they were prevented by the leash and you, for example, you absolutely had to lead your dog “by foot” and thus headed towards the other dog with no possibility of evasion. And this is what happens: Your dog learns that friendly, de-escalating behavior is unsuccessful. If he mobs, the oncoming dog owner dodges with his dog. This is how your dog learned that mobbing means that he can walk past the other dog safely and without being bothered.

Possible cause: Human tension

And of course you, as the owner, as the other end of the leash, also play a role. Mood transmission is a factor that should not be underestimated. Mood transmission means that you and your dog have a similar mood that reinforces each other. That means: If you are tense in encounter situations, it is your already tense dog all the more. You show your tension by shortening the leash, tensing your body, holding your breath and waiting for your dog to explode again. You feel uncomfortable in the situation, doubt your dog and yourself. This insecurity, discomfort and dissatisfaction become increasingly noticeable on the walks. It transfers to your dog and strains your relationship. It is also not uncommon for there to be dog owners who are afraid and / or prejudiced towards foreign dogs or dogs of a certain type or breed. When you encounter these breeds, your own discomfort is transferred to the dog.

Possible cause: breed typical disposition

Leash aggression often affects dogs of certain breeds (or their mixed breeds) to an increasing extent. Most of them are the so-called “working dogs”, ie working dogs. These are breed dogs that have been bred to work closely with humans. When breeding, less value is placed on the fact that they are socially opposed to their peers. Many of these dogs originally had the task of guarding and protecting. That means they are territorial or have to be fearless and robust. These include, for example, terriers. In addition, many of these dogs are easily excitable and have a very quick response. That means they learn very quickly. Unfortunately, also how to keep fellow species away through aggression.

A little understanding helps with training

All of these are factors that can lead to or favor linen aggression. Of course, not every terrier who has attended a puppy play lesson becomes a linen rambo! But no matter for what reason the leash aggression originated: Your dog shows it because it is a strategy for him to deal with a situation in which he does not feel good and triggers the negative emotions in him. And unfortunately, this behavior of the dog is not only met with a lack of understanding, but attempts are still being made to suppress leash aggression using inappropriate, long-outdated and unsuccessful methods. Why this is not only counterproductive, but can aggravate the linen aggression and in the worst case is even dangerous, you will learn in the next article.

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