I have seen a lot of dogs lately who have developed leash reactivity due to frustration. It usually starts off with a dog who is allowed to run up and greet every dog it sees when it is off leash. As the dog is very friendly and loves playing with other dogs, it isn’t really seen as a problem. But with time, the mere sight of another dog becomes an immediate cue for the dog to run towards the other dog, and away from the owner. One day the dog is walked on leash, sees a dog, but when it tries to run up, it is stuck. The dog tries straining on the leash but still cannot get to the other dog. At this point the dog starts to get frustrated and begins barking.
For the next little while, the dog is mostly pulling to get to other dogs, and just barks once in a while. It really isn’t that bad, as you know the dog just wants to play. The dog slowly starts to display the behaviour more frequently, and every time the dog gets a little bit more intense. The owner is now getting a bit worried about walking the dog on leash, and begins to brace him- or herself, shortening the leash and anticipating the dog’s reaction. The tight leash makes the dog feel even more restrained, and soon enough, the dog is lunging, barking and growling whenever it sees another dog.
Does this story sound familiar? Stay tuned for our Frustration Tolerance post to start off your training. Are you scared this might happen to your dog? Keep a look out for our Heeling post to read about how to prevent it.