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Latest health and behavior news and advice from the veterinarians at Tufts University.

Dog Training & Behavior

Leash Rage

Leash Rage

Helping your dog get past the aggression she exhibits while attached to you.

“Imagine if we had to greet people by slapping them in the face, or by swearing at them before we said hello. It would get things off on the wrong foot,” says the head of the Tufts Animal Behavior Clinic, Stephanie Borns-Weil, DVM, “and that’s how it is for dogs on leashes. Meeting on leash is not natural for dogs. On their own, they approach each other tentatively, in a wide arc from the side. They evaluate the other dog’s body language and determine whether to come forward or retreat. But on leash they’re forced to come face to face — with other dogs, with people. It’s considered impolite in the canine world to approach too head-on. And for some dogs that are fearful, the head-on greeting may trigger aggression. They can’t get away — they’re tethered to you, after all — so they feel they have no other choice. They need to guard their perimeter. It’s a very common problem that I work with.”

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