It isn’t working!
It is making your aggressive dog worse!
You can do it and I will explain why it is so important.
I have said this before….
And, I will say it again…
But for a little while, while you are teaching your dog some new obedience skills and teaching him coping skills. Walking him and allowing him to continue his aggressive ways is setting back your dog training.
I promise that it will change your dog’s behavior, for the better!
People are always horrified.
How on earth will their dog get exercise if they aren’t walking them?
Yes, dogs need exercise, but in all honesty, walking isn’t the best way to exercise your dog anyway.
Mental stimulation is actually more exhausting for your dog than even physical exercise can be!
Dr. Ian Dunbar, a world renowned dog behaviorist, guarantees it!
That means teaching your dog a new cue, or command, or trick, will make your dog more tired than a little stroll around the neighborhood, anyway!
And, training with your dog is better for his behavior!
Teaching New Behavior
I like a dog that pays attention to me, on command.
If I am walking, and I see a child or another dog coming our way, I want to tell my dog to go into heel position and look up at me.
This keeps my dog from being aggressive or reactive.
This also keeps him from pulling on his leash, at all, even if it is just in an excited manner.
Instead of paying attention to these distractions (which is what any normal dog would do), he looks away from the distraction and up at me for reward.
Now, it is important to note that the reward I have has to be greater than the distraction.
For instance, my dogs like their toys WAY more than they enjoy looking at kids or other dogs.
They KNOW that if they ignore distractions, I will play with them and for them that is the best thing ever.
I have taught my dogs how to act around distractions.
I am not walking them past these distractions and waiting for them to “react”.
Thankfully, for us both, I am a dog trainer, so I kept the bad behavior from ever happening.
But, not everyone is a dog trainer.
And, many people have dog aggressive or reactive dogs, or just dogs that pull on the leash.
The dogs have been doing it for so long that it is a self-rewarding habit.
Yes! Aggression can be rewarding for the dog.
The adrenaline is addicting.
Have you ever gotten so mad at someone that you threatened physical violence, and had that person back down? The feeling is kind of a rush.
Which is why it is so difficult to cure or deal with for dog owners.
Which is also why you need to stop walking your aggressive dog.
You need to break the cycle of addiction and adrenaline while you are introducing new training and coping techniques.
And, let’s face it, your dog isn’t going to be able to complete a new behavior or coping mechanism while he is in the throws of aggression.
By allowing him to continue to get aggressive, you are losing the battle and the war.
He can learn new behaviors and he can learn to control himself, but you are setting him up for failure if you continue to walk him and allow him to get aggressive while you are trying to teach these new behaviors.
Think of him as an addict.
As an addict he can work on new behaviors and rehabilitation, but he can’t do it while he is still getting the drug.
We want to completely AVOID his aggression from here on out by teaching him to do something else!
It’s Not So Bad
Missing a few weeks or walks isn’t so bad.
What’s worse is getting frustrated at your dog while you are actually fueling his addiction.
And, if you MUST walk him, at least do it early in the morning or super late at night when other dogs, or whatever his trigger is, are less likely to be out.
Or, drive to a secluded spot.
I have driven hours to train my dogs or to let them swim in the lake or pool.
I could certainly drive into the country to walk my dog.
Trust me, your dog and your dog training consistency is worth a little added exertion.
And, if you need other ideas, check this article out.
The Good News
The good news is that teaching eye contact and focus, finding heel, and teaching your dog to play will all be mentally stimulating and exhausting!
And, it will be valuable dog training that you can use as you slowly begin to add distractions to your dog’s environment and get back to your walking regimen.