By Sara B. Hansen
A new study from Mendel University in the Czech Republic shows dogs walked on a leash by men are four more times likely to fight or bite other dogs.
University researchers watched 2,000 instances where dogs met during the morning and afternoon in different parts of the city of Brno. The researchers documented the dog’s age, sex and size as well as use of a leash and the owner’s gender.
Mendel University Professor Petr Rezac said the dogs may be picking up cues from their owners.
“We propose that the occurrence of threat and biting in dogs on a walk may have some connection with aggressive tendencies and/or impulsiveness in people,” he said.
Inga Fricke, Humane Society of the United States director, called the action “leash frustration” or “leash aggression.” And attributed it to the frustration dogs feel when the leash keeps them from being able to properly greet other dogs.
But DogsBestLife.com dog training expert Terry Jester of Fort Collins, Colo., has another theory.
“Dogs that are aggressive while on leash are usually that way for one of two reasons: either the dog is fearful of people and other dogs, or the dog feels the owner is backup and wants to show aggression as a way to let off steam,” Jester said.
She said dogs are excited about seeing another person or dog and are ready to go berserk.
“If the owner is lucky, the dog is a friendly berserker – jumping all over the new dog or person in ecstasy,” Jester said.
But that energy also can be expressed as either fear-related aggression or territorial aggression, Jester said.
Fear-related aggression is when the dog sees the leash as a restraint preventing him from escape. Territorial aggression is when the dog is an extrovert, seeing its owner as a pack mate who has his back should the dog need backup in a fight to let off steam, she said.
It’s important to correct the dog’s aggression, which can best by done by socializing the dog and giving it lots of exercise. Jester also recommends working with a dog trainer.
Sara B. Hansen is the editor of Dog’s Best Life. You can reach her @ email@example.com.