Monday, June 25, 2012

Leash attack solutions

When we first got Fozzie, my first indication that I had bitten off more than I could comfortably chew was when we went for a walk and his response to turning around and heading for home was to grab his leash and tug lustily, and not let go.

Two years later, this is still his response of choice when we see another dog and don't stop to meet it, or when we encounter humans who engage with me in any way, or sometimes just when he is in an energetic mood. 

I'm sure this is a manifestation of Fozzie's frustration with stopping and being on leash, his reactivity, his extreme desire to meet and greet and embrace everything and everyone he encounters, and maybe just his joie de vivre.

Though he's got a really good Drop It and Leave It in the house, when he's in this stimulating situation nothing can make him drop that leash. I'm sure that means that we just have to work harder on these skills in non- stimulating situations, but until we've done that I need some extra help.

The chain leash is the only thing I could think of for a while. Works, but heavy and uncomfortable to carry.

A while ago I saw a great suggestion by Kobipup: make your regular leash taste nasty to the dog. Her suggestion is apple cider vinegar, all over the leash. I imagine you could use bitter apple spray or Tabasco sauce too, or Chinese mustard if you had to.

We doused our leash in vinegar a few weeks ago, and at first it seemed Fozzie was much less likely to chomp. Perhaps he's gotten desensitized to the vinegar though, because he's back at it. Time for the Tabasco?

One trainer I worked with suggested having him on two leashes, and as soon as he grabbed the leash I was holding, dropping that one and taking the other. Fozzie's way too fast for that--he'd have both leashes in his mouth in no time.

Since Fozzie's leash attack madness results from his stimulation and stress, the most effective solution would be to just walk him singly, without the other dogs, who are definitely stressors. When I have time to do this, he is without doubt calmer.

As far as training, we need to just spend more time practicing. Meeting neighbors, shaking hands, talking, making eye contact with Fozzie as he sits. Approaching other dogs, backtracking if he gets tense, calmly walking past when possible. Going to Francine's classes and trying not to freak out. In the meantime, we just need to effectively manage the situation!


  1. Ahh...this was my biggest problem with Miss M when I first adopted her. She would get so excited when a person looked at her, or spoke, (which happens often because we live in the city) she would redirect and start thrashing the leash. I really didn't know anything and I didn't have the great network we have now, so I used to try doing the calming things (grabbing her chest and dangling her legs or sitting on her..definitely not ideal or recommended). We did have to do every walk as a training walk too, sometimes with her in a backpack. Aging helped also. Interested to see how it goes!

  2. Believe it or not my trainer just ordered chili pepper flavored leashes. Who knew? What about treats, will he take a treat when this is happening?

    My other thought is to actually TEACH him to take the leash and drop it, perhaps then he will not grab it when HE wants, only when you do. :-)

  3. Spraying it with something is a good idea. We have spray we bought at the pet store which is just like nail polish remover - we put it on the corners of the rugs Finn was chewing on and now she doesn't even touch it.

  4. Hi Kirsten, all of the kids are fine with their leashes. But with the exception of Sam, the other kids display varying degrees of reactivity. Owen's the worse. My dad is always looking for other dogs approaching, even if they're across the street. Owen will rear up. Sometimes my dad has to pick him up and hold him. But apparently he's better when he's with one of the daytime dog-walkers. My mom and dad will keep working with him as I'm sure you will with Fozzie. We like Pagent and hope that Pagent finds a home with loving and understanding humans.

  5. Georgia had a bit of that problem in the beginning but got over it. She needed s lot of exercise too.

    It's funny to read about these nasty tasting deterrents and find that they worked with Fozzie and Finn. They didn't AT ALL with Georgia! When she chewed through the yard and house, we tried rubbing and spraying everything with bitter apple and chilli oil and she just laughed in our faces. I remember how hard it was to spray the chilli oil. I would hold my nose as best I could but still be wheezing and coughing. She'd accompany me on these spraying rounds and would literally just stand there without a care in the world while I was doubled up with tears running down my face. Strange dog.

  6. Hurley used to hold his leash in his mouth. No tugging, no chewing. I think he thought he was walking me in those instances.

    I'd try practicing drop it/take it with the leash at home. I think this is the sort of thing that just takes practice and perhaps he will grow out of it as he gets older & calms down. If using taste deterrents, mix them up. Sometimes, dogs grow accustomed to a certain taste and it's less effective than before. I'd bet good money that Fozzie is one of those dogs where the impulse to do something will outweigh a yucky taste. Good luck!

  7. I soaked my puppy's leash in bitter apple and the next day when it was dry he continued on as if it hadn't been soaking in bitter apple at all. Have you found a solution yet?

  8. Maybe it’s the type of leash that frustrates your dog. Find a leash that he will be comfortable with. Leash training and walking will be a lot interesting as well, if you take him to a different environment where he can have fun and be distracted.

    Mariah Blum

  9. Her suggestion is apple cider vinegar, all over the leash. ...


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.