All About Marie

Animal Files columnist of the Orange County Register from 1992-2016; Emmy Award winning producer of Educational Television Programming; Host of "The Pet Place Radio Show" heard world-wide at; click the player below to listen. Producer/Director/Editor/Co-host of "The Pet Place TV Show" during the 19 years it ran on KDOC TV in Los Angeles and Orange Counties; Wife, Mother of five kids, Grandmother of two baby boys and one baby girl, and pet parent of two cats, one dog, many fish, and a cockatoo.

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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Dog Barks while Leashed

Dear Marie,
We adopted a lab mix female dog from a rescue group back in July and just adore her. She is definitely a submissive dog and is perfect in every way except one. She loves other dogs off leash, but when walking with her she gets very aggressive (barks meanly, hair on her neck raises up) towards other dogs when they are also on leash. When we take her to the dog park she is perfect and never shows any signs of aggression with other dogs. It is only in walking her on a leash. She is the sweetest dog - very affectionate, but this is a behavior I would like to know if it can be stopped and how to stop it. I would like to walk her without that stress of running into another dog and her going nuts.

Thank you for your time and I look forward to your insight.

Dear Sonja,
Dogs barking and acting aggressively towards other dogs while on leash are probably the two most common and frustrating problems that dog owners must deal with. Fortunately, your dog is a sweet and submissive individual, so in her case, this behavior can be fairly easily addressed.

First, purchase a Gentle Leader, or another similar product, to use while walking. These are enhanced collars that fit around your dog’s neck and head. When your dog is walking well, the product really acts as nothing more than a collar. However, if your dog begins to bark and act ferociously, a simple pull on the leash will cause the nylon straps to close your dog’s mouth and bring your dog’s head around to you.

This is important, because as a pack animal, she already knows that you are the leader. In nature, dominant canines will grab the muzzle of a subordinate to demonstrate that whatever the canine of lower standing is doing is unacceptable. A Gentle Leader allows you to communicate with your dog at its most basic, and instinctual level.

In addition to using the head collar, be sure and tell your dog a word or two, such as “Quiet” or “No barking.” Be consistent with your use of words so that when your dog hears this command, she will know, even if she is not wearing her special collar, that barking is not appropriate.

You may also want to try some additional commands as other dogs approach, to keep her focused on you. If you have attended obedience classes, your dog should already be familiar with the basics. Try giving her a “sit” command followed by a “down” command. If she remains focused on you, rather than the passing dog, be sure and praise her thoroughly.

If you haven’t already taken group obedience classes, I would strongly recommend enrolling in one. Most city parks and recreation departments offer group dog obedience sessions that last 6-8 weeks. They are usually a bargain, and a lot of fun.

 In a group setting, your dog will be exposed to many dogs. Because everyone knows that canines in these classes are still learning good behavior, a dog that barks will not upset most people. Use this guaranteed exposure to practice with the Gentle Leader and obedience commands to get your dog on track. Your instructor will also be able to provide a number of other tips and tricks to help both you and your dog.

By the end of your class, your dog’s aggressive barking should be a thing of the past; but don’t forget, the key to success is consistency. Good Luck!

1 comment:

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