German Shepherd barks at other dogs only while on leash

Posted by ragam2100
Mar 5, 2012

I have an 8-month-old German Shepherd puppy named "Tracker" who, while on leash, likes to run towards other dogs he sees and bark and bark until he (or the other dog) passes by. He will do this with all dogs large and small. But when he is off-leash, such as at a dog park, he has no such problems with other dogs. How can we help reduce this behavior?

Posted by MaxHollyNoah
Mar 5, 2012
Hi Al,

This is what's called "Leash Aggression". There are two types:

1) is usually by playful dogs. They want to get close to other dogs to sniff/play but because of the leash they cannot. Owners tend to pull the leash trying to keep the dog away from other dogs thinking his dog might attack them. That would make things even worse since his frustration builds up and makes him act more aggressive.

2) is shown by under-socialized dogs. When they are leashed there is no way for them to run away in case the other dogs get close to them so they get in the protective mode.

I think your dog sounds more like 1). Either case what you need to do is to make him "Sit and Stay" and calm him down. If your dog is friendly and playful, ask the other dogs' owners if their dogs are friendly or not. If they are, explain your dog's issue and see if it's OK to let him close to their dogs, or walk along side by side with their dogs.

Make sure you are not tense but you are well prepared to control your dog if he starts getting into a fight. You should look at his body language, such as his tail position, his hackles, etc.

This needs to be addressed as soon as possible since this aggression gets only worse if you keep pulling your leash to avoiding the encounters, especially protective breeds like yours.
Posted by KOPCaroline
Mar 7, 2012
Hey Al,

Just wanted to say I totally agree with MHN - exactly the advice I'd give you! Distracting a dog who's excitable/aggressive on lead is a great solution for training. I did the same with my dog, who liked to rush other dogs in an excited bundle of legs and tail and mouth - it worked really well for me, so I have faith it will help you and your dog!

Keep us posted, please, and good luck!