Guest Post: What is Leash Aggression?

Reprinted with permission from Sally Hummel, Rugby James. This article is original in content and not to be reproduced elsewhere in any form. Copyright May 17, 2016.

Mama Sally

Aggression is one of the most difficult of naughty behaviors that I have to correct with a dog.  It is a weird, deep and confusing behavior.  It can range from  “I hate every dog I see” to “I like this dog but I hate that one.”  Sometimes triggers are simple to spot, but other times….they can be a real mystery!  Levels of aggression can be as mild as low level growling or a lip curl or quiver, and as dangerous as full on attacks with serious injuries or death being inflicted.

Types of aggression can include:

  • Dog on dog aggression:  a dog attacking other dogs
  • Dog/Human aggression:  a dog attacking a human
  • Resource guarding: a dog acting aggressively when he is protecting his resources, like food, water, toys, humans, etc.
  • Cage aggression:  a dog behaving aggressively in his crate
  • Kennel aggression:  a dog behaving aggressively when he is in a kennel run
  • Fence aggression: a dog behaving aggressively at someone/something on the opposite side of a fence
  • Leash aggression:  a dog behaving aggressively when he is on a leash
  • Re-directed aggression: a dog re-directs his aggression from the original target to whatever is closest to him

This is definitely not an all-inclusive list, and within each of those categories, there can be very specific types of aggressive behavior, such as aggression only with men if they are wearing a ball cap or hoodie, or with toddlers only, etc., which is partly why it’s such a challenging behavior to correct!

Aggression can be a deep well.  If it’s caught in its early stages, I can have a good chance in turning the behavior around.  Once dogs get well established in producing aggressive behavior, there may be nothing any trainer can do to rehabilitate the dog.  If multiple dog bites are involved, there’s a strong chance that the dog will be put to sleep when all is said and done.

The really sad, sad thing, is that in most cases, aggression can absolutely be avoided, and that’s what I’m posting about this week.  I hope to help you understand how to prevent aggressive behavior in your own dogs, how to recognize it in its early stages,  and save your dog from biting!

Rugby James

No matter what Uprights say, doggers isn’t aggressive just because they is a certain breed of dog.  Lotsa doggers is all mixed up wif their breeds like me.  Just because a dogger might have sum of a specific breed in them, it doesn’t mean that they will grow up to be mean….just because of that breed in them.

You know what?  Most doggers gets aggressive on account of they is skeered.  Yup.  That’s a true story.  Skeered puppies can grow up to be biters when they get all growed up.  And puppies is skeered on account of they just doesn’t understand how fings work in the world.  Mostly that happens on account of they just didn’t get to come up good when they was really lil puppers.

It Starts With Responsible Breeding

Breeders has a huge responsibility to socialize puppers before they even go to their new homes.  That means exposing those puppers to all kindsa fings, people, places, fings, noises, movements, textures, all kindsa stuff!  And puppers needsa stay wif their original litter until they is older, 10-12 weeks, so they can get all of their good pack behaviors started really good.  The mama doggers should getsa interact wif the puppers too, sos they can learn good stuff from a growed up dogger.  When you is looking for a breeder, these is the kindsa questions you needsa be asking!  If you doesn’t get a good answer, cross that one off your list and move right on along to the next one!  This stuff is super important!

Shelter puppers doesn’t always get the good stuff to start, on account of mostly those are lil puppers what wasn’t really wanted to start wif, so mostly they don’t always get good treatment, or the right kindsa foods, and stuff like that.  Sumtimes, their breeders just wantsa get rid of them quick, so they take them away from their mudders and udder puppers too soon…at six weeks, what is way too young! When puppers leaves their original pack too soon, it will affect their overall behavior and development, and sumtimes that can result in naughty aggressive behaviors as they grow up.

After puppers go to their new homes, they needs lotsa continued socialization wif the same kinda stuff, so that they can continue to understand how the world works.  That stuff hasta happen until they is all growed up into big doggers…not just when they is puppers. Owners gotsa fink about taking them to new places all the times…. every day if possible, so that their puppers can see and smell, and hear and experience all kindsa new fings… over and over, sos they can get comfortable and feel safe wif stuff in the world.

Adolescence: That Awkward Age!

When they getsa be teenager puppers into young adult doggers, they can has sum weird behaviors start…. like aggression…. and their owners gotsa learn kind, consistent ways to shut that stuff down quick, sos it doesn’t get worse, or get to be a naughty habit!  The very best way to keep aggressive behavior from getting started, is to train your puppers from the first moment that they come into your home.  That way, they can learn who is in charge of fings right away, and puppers and owners can learn how to respect and appreciate each udder right from the very start of living togedder! When a pupper has had good, solid training right from the beginning, it’s a whole lot easier to work frew the weird teen ager stuff what they might try later!

You wantsa watch for really strong barking what might say, “Go away!” instead of excited happy barking when you are on walkies, or when strangers comes to your house.  You doesn’t wanna see your dogger lunge at anudder dogger or Upright on walkies.  You doesn’t wanna see your dogger covering up his toys and lowering his head and looking sideways at you…or growling!  Charging at Uprights or doggers is never good, so be on the lookout for that stuff too.  These is a few of the fings what can get aggression started going, and when you see these kindsa fings, THIS is the time to get professional help and shut it down.  Get it stopped.  In its tracks!

Aggression doesn’t just go away, and doggers doesn’t just outgrow it.  Usually, it gets worser and worser over time, until a bite happens, and that often means that the dogger has been doing aggressive stuff for a long time already.  When bites happen, sumtimes police reports gets involved, and it’s much more expensive for the Uprights of the aggressive dogger, AND they might hasta put their doggers to sleep, what is a very, very sad fing what sumtimes hasta happen.

Uprights just gotsa fink of investing time and work wif their puppers until they is all growed up….two years or more, to get their best shots of having a well socialized and adjusted dogger what will not likely become aggressive later in life.  When doggers usually live twelve years or more….it’s worf it to help them be the very best that they can be!

Sally&RugbyBioIn 2007, a dog trainer found herself falling in love with her first rescue dog. That trainer was Sally Hummel and the dog would become Rugby James. The goal of her website is to provide education, support, community, encouragement, and hope. Difficult dogs are often “recycled from shelter to home to shelter to home, and back to shelter, until they are often put to sleep.” Sally would like to change this by sharing her own day to day life with a “neurotic” dog. She wants to help owners “stay committed to their pooch, and try to make life better for them.” Her site exists because she believes pet owners can live well with a difficult dog. Her own Rugby James is living proof of that!


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