I had this earlier in the year with one of my dogs - although his lead aggression stemmed from being attacked by another dog that was off lead .... and then it happened again with 2 labs trying to tear him to bits. The Lab attack was the final straw for him so at 9 years old he went from being everyones mate and friendly to everything he met, to an evil little scrote when on his lead, and even attacked his two doggie best mates on different occasions - although in his own defence, there was never any biting involved as it was all snarling and growling and trying to get the other dog down so he could stand over it. But horrible for other owners AND me to see him doing it.
I got some great advice from some of the peeps on here (mainly Bones), some from my dad, and some of my own common sense.
I found that the main thing was that I was escalating the problem as I was tensing up and tightening my grip on the lead when another dog was approaching us, which in turn was winding him up and making him feel restricted and tense.
I started with the two dogs he had "attacked" and started walking them side by side. We just ignored the initial growling and kept walking on in a determined manner lol They'd do the "lets all pee on everything" as we were walking down the road, and then you could visible see the tension going out of him. Once they were all calm and walking nicely side by side and not staring each other out, we let them off their leads together. Not a single snarl or growl.
I found that trying to get him to sit and take a treat and ignore other dogs approaching wasnt working as he was so focussed, so any time we met a dog that he was looking like he wanted to have a go with, I would ask the other owner if they could stop, explained briefly what the problem was, and then ask if they would mind if I walked along with them for a short way to get my own dog to chill out.
I dont know how well socialised your own dog is - but mine had always been a very well socialised and friendly dog - AND he is entire. Now, if he shows any signs of the tensing up (which occasionally does happen when he's on his lead) I make a real effort not to try holding him back, I relax my hold on him, I let him say hello to the other dog if the other owner is happy for me to do so. If I hold him back the snarling starts, if I give him slack and dont tense, he's all waggy and friendly.
He's not shown any signs of aggression for about 6 weeks now and yesterday we met a lady with 2 collies up on the moors that I hadnt seen before. My two were off lead and went over to say hello to hers, and she sort of turned her back on her own dogs and said "My male isnt very friendly with others, but if I try to call him back he will attack so if I ignore him he will probably only snarl" so we left him and Murf sniffing and saying hello and then the Collie had a right old snap at Murf .... Murf backed down straight away not even attempting to snap back, and we just left them to it and eventually they started playing. I couldnt have done that 3 months ago.
I know it's a long one so apologies for the essay lol But I know how upsetting it can be with your dog turning evil on a lead and how people look at you when you've got a dog that looks like it's the most badly behaved and aggressive animal in the world. My own dogs aggression was fear based - so if you know of anything that may have sparked your own dog's aggression then that's your starting point.
Good luck with him xx
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Treat life's little problems like your dog would ... If you can't eat it or hump it ... pee on it and walk away!!!
Tuesday, 21 December 2010