Leash Walking Technique for Aggressive, Reactive or Over Excited Dogs

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Below is a habits to keep your dog's focus when passing various other pet dogs at close range. Educate it as well as practice it typically as well as it will certainly be second nature so your pet will certainly remain with you so you can avoid one-on-one battle. Valuable for dog training classes or on your own. To see all my videos:

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48 Comments on “Leash Walking Technique for Aggressive, Reactive or Over Excited Dogs”

  1. Donna, I love all of your videos and think they are VERY helpful. I would like to make one suggestion, your intro of the dog barking always sets my dog off, and I am not sure if this happens with others watching with their dogs, but I always have to mute it. While I don’t mind, I just wanted to give you a heads up. Keep the great videos coming!!

    1. +TheWigglebutt You’re definitely not the only one! My dog can tell the intro bark in these videos is fake, but other videos of dogs barking get him all riled up!

    2. Lol! the intro bark is actually a compilation of both my dogs barks that are on cue! It is real, just not conveying anything particularly important.

    1. +Chakim Hamzah There’s no such thing as a “Dominant” dog. It is not a stable personality trait but a fluid set of behaviors that varies with motivation & environment. It is a great way to train focus, though, you’re right there!

  2. Thanks so much. Your videos are always clear, concise, and compassionate, and have been a real help to me as I work with my reactive dog. 

  3. I will have to try this. God I wish my dog was food or toy orientated and didn’t get bored of repeated exercises, training would be so much easier! Oh well, patience.

    1. counter to what you’re suggesting, he tends to pay more attention when he’s on a very short leash.. a moderate leash or a long leash just seems to mean that he’s got more freedom to engage with his distractions. note: he’s super obedient at home, just over-stimulated outside.. even after you spend hours with him hiking or playing in the fields. I’ll look into BAT, but thus far it seems to be more for aggressive or fearful dogs.. and Barney just seems to want to go and say hi and play with every one and everything he can smell.

    2. +Benjamin Elsworth You misunderstood. I was talking about the distance from the trigger other dog, not the distance from the handler. Add more distance to keep dog under threshold. Only use a longer leash after the dog is comfortable on a 6 foot leash closer to the target. Train one criterion at a time. Distance from other dog, Length of leash etc.

    3. Hi Benjamin, the whole point is teaching the dogs to make their own choices. If they are not given at least some space to make a choice (5-6ft leash), they can never learn what the right choice is and you will have to always do the controlling.

    4. Benjamin Elsworth- I know you posted this 2 years ago but in case you see this- your dog sounds EXACTLY like my new dog! He’s just so over-stimulated outside. Even if there’s no dog around I can barely get him to look at me because he just wants to look at and smell everything around him. When he does see a dog, he is frantic and reactive but only because he wants to go play and is frustrated that he can’t. Any tips??

    5. Check out the online classes at fenzidogsportsacademy.com There are several that will help you with a reactive dog.

  4. Hi Donna. I have a dog aggressive rescue. She knows sit as a control position i.e if she is in a sit she will not get up unless given a release cue whether I have asked for a stay or not. I think the techniques shown in your video would really help us during our walks but I’m wondering if there is a way to teach her this or something similar without interfering with her current understanding of a ‘sit’. Any suggestions would be very helpful.

  5. My issue is that my dog tends to completely forget what she learned once people are involved or the treat is completely removed. u_u

    1. +Shakes Shigsm (貴腐人) You need to teach the behavior first without the distraction, then decrease the distance as long as the dog is successful. Having a high rate of reinforcement each time you decrease the distance also helps until she is able to do the behavior. You need to do many repetitions successfully in many different environments to allow you dog to learn the new behavior. Then fade the food reinforcers.

    2. That means you are asking for too much too fast. Use more distance when you start using different reinforcers. There should always be some sort of reinforcer for the dog, even if it’s an environmental reward.

    1. The whole point of training our dogs is to not let them go over threshold. That gives them practice the unwanted behavior. All of the dogs in the video are dog reactive.

  6. Hi Donna, nice video, is therea simular one like this that someone can use who´s in a wheelchair.?

    1. I’d be inclined to use the wheelchair as a barrier. In other words, put the dog on the other side of the chair. I will typically walk my dogs on the right just for this purpose. Most people walk their dogs on the left so in a right-handed street culture, it puts me between my dog and oncoming dogs who hang at the end of the leash. Also teach your dog to drop behind you when you go into a narrow area, then you can use that too if the dog is approaching from the front.

  7. My problem with my dog is that whenever someone is approaching him when he’s on a leash he gets aggressive. Other than that he’s fine. I just don’t know how I would fix that.

    1. Have you tried the ‘Look At That’ game? I’ve been working on it with my spaniel who showed signs of fear aggression but by rewarding her for looking at people from a distance and remaining calm and then gradually reducing the distance she is getting better by the day.

    2. Are you sure it’s your dog and not you?

      You could be passing on nervous energy and anxiety to your dog, which in turn, makes it nervous and anxious as well.

  8. brilliant I’m loving your methods already, going to look forward in watching your videos best that I’ve seen on YouTube. Thank you for helping people like myself.

  9. I think this is the ONLY video that i find SO helpful I have a german shepherd and since i adopt him, i knew he hated to be on leash (he’s reactive when he see’s another dogs) and is been 6 months of hard training unfortunately i did a piggy for a trainer who….teach us nothing but get my dog walk aside myself (not in the front) and oh well was lots of money but i really found this video so helpful somehow i learnt that if i ask my dog do to something different like hop to a bench or hop into whatever i find while walking and a dog is approaching us first we build some….distance and he will do the command but still STARE at the dog who is coming towards us i mean…at least he doesn’t bark or lunge anymore but i have the feeling that this exercises are going to work for us…. i have no idea how i came to this video but i just wanted to say THANK YOU! It is just the most helpful video in Youtube period haha sometimes when it comes to training doing the most simple thing will lead you to cool things….but most of the time people who is not a trainer won’t think of that hahaha

  10. My issue is with idiots who allow their dogs off lead and are in no way in control of their dog / s . My dog is reactive an never off lead. Then along comes either a dog that starts on him or starts him off. So I have several choices. Choice 1. I pick him up to get him out of the situation. Always a bad idea as it just makes him more aggressive or fearful when he meets other dogs. Choice 2. I get between the dogs and protect mine.. Not a good position to put yourself in. Choice 3. I physically make the other dog back the hell off using anything i have handy. Usually a foot or a hand. And the icing on the cake when the other dog owner eventually arrives on scene is them saying “oh its ok my dog is friendly” Shame they always miss the part where their dog went for mine and ended up having a prompt flying lesson.

  11. Thanks for the wonderful videos and the time you put in them. I’m currently working with one of our BCSPCA dogs, Benny from Nanaimo. He’s a wonderful Border Collie that’s been bounced around from home to home. He’s coming along very well and is a joy to work with and will be another foster failure for me 🙂

  12. Please do one on aggressive dogs.. My dog doesn’t care what I have, he just wants to… I don’t know what he wants to do but it doesn’t look like it would be a good thing.

    1. If your dog doesn’t care what you have, it’s probably that you are too close to the trigger. Start at a distance where he can succeed and get 80% of better success rate before decreasing the distance by just a little bit. He then learns that his choices can earn rewards. That changes his behavior. Walk parallel or on an arc around the other dog rather than walking straight towards him.

    2. Dogs can’t eat when they are overthreshold. It’s a good way to tell you he’s really stressed or overaroused.

  13. It’s so hard to take a walk when everybody has their dog offleash… I am doing the right method but always having setbacks because of not having enough space (narrow streets) or dogs lunging on us…. And the owners cant get their dog back.. What should I do these times?

    1. Choose to walk in open places. Ideally get out of the situation. Use barriers and get your dog up on benches if you can. Get your dog’s focus (turn to face you or put him behind you) or if they keep coming use the “Stop” hand to the other dogs and a low voice to tell the dogs to “Go Home”.

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