If your dog lunges at other dogs that walk by when he’s on a leash it is imperative that you seek help in dealing with the problem. Today on the trail I had a tiny little dog lunge at one of mine while barking his face off, and the owner explained that it’s just his way of saying hi. Unfortunately this is something I hear all too often, and even as I drive around the city I can see it happening on the sidewalks. And just because your dog is small doesn’t mean it’s ok to let him behave in a way that would be dangerous if he was larger. The truth is most of these poor dogs are dealing with an anxiety inducing issue every time they are out on a walk. Can you imagine feeling aggressive to every other human you saw while you were out on a walk? Where would that come from? Fear.
The absolute worst thing you can possibly do is the thing I see done the most often. Do not pet your dog and tell him it’s ok. That is human. He doesn’t understand what you're saying, only the way you're acting, and most of the time I see what people are doing looks a heck of a lot like telling him he’s a good dog. If you pet your dog, or coo to him, or share affection, you would be inadvertently using classic positive reinforcement conditioning. You would be teaching him that you agree with his behavior, not calming him down. Conversely, you wouldn't want to yell at him to stop, showing weakness, panic, adding more energy and loud noises, and possibly adding fear to the fire.
Dogs with this type of behavior can very generally be described as feeling they have some sort of role that they must perform which forces them to do what they do. If you take away this role from them it will put an end to half the problem. The other half is establishing yourself as a trustworthy source of guidance; as a leader. Your job is to let your dog know that you have it covered, so they don’t need to. You are strong, wise, and capable. Why should they have to worry about handling the situation when you do a great job with it?
It could be that your dog is not being aggressive when he is barking wildly and lunging. It could very well be that he just wants to go say hello and the leash is making him frustrated because he can’t act naturally. But the point is that he is becoming extremely over excited, frustrated, aroused, and his learned method of greeting is bad manners. It could cause a fight, and it definitely is causing your dog lots of anxiety.
Do not let your dog continue to bark and lunge on the end of the leash while you politely smile or explain away his behavior. The feeling of being held back by the leash will only make your dog want to move forward more. It's not going to get better on its own. This problem does require an understanding of an appropriate rehabilitation progress, of which I would only be able to give you basic information in this manner, but I find it important and common enough to address and urge you to seek help.
aggression, aggressive, aggressive behavior, barking, behavior modification, dog dog aggression, leash lunging, leash pulling, protective, leash aggression