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Leash Etiquette & Training Your Dog to be Calm on the Leash

Most dog to dog altercations occur on leash. Why is this?

  1. Owners generally have the leash taught, which changes the body language that the dog is giving off. This causes the initial greeting to be tense, or worse. A kind, natural greeting is in a wide, curve pattern that ends with their nose at the other dog’s butt. This very rarely happens with someone holding the leash.

  2. Owners often let their dogs try to “play on leash”, which usually ends up with one dog being clobbered and both dogs getting tied up, all the while with poor body language due to the leash. This eventually ends up going badly.

  3. Owners don’t always ask permission to allow their dog to greet another dog on leash. They often just allow their dog to approach, even if they don’t know if a dog is friendly or if the owner is ok with it.



My dog is crazy on leash, but we have been going to obedience classes for years!” Have you ever heard this?

If you allow your dog to approach people or dogs while pulling at the leash, they are going to learn that pulling gets them what they want. Plain and simple. If you demand that they sit and be calm (and praise them for that), AND if you do not allow them to be greeted or to greet on leash, they will learn that is how they are supposed to behave. They will learn that you are the most important person in the room and that the other people and dogs don’t matter that much. This is especially important to instill when your dog is a puppy.

MORAL: DO NOT ALLOW YOUR DOG TO GREET OTHER DOGS OR PEOPLE ON LEASH (if you want a calm dog that is focused on you).

How do I socialize my puppy then?

  1. Socialization does not necessarily mean physically interacting. Puppies under 5 months need to be exposed to different types of people, dogs, places, environments, sounds, smells, etc. If you teach them that the way they need to experience all of these things is by pulling on the leash, that is exactly what they will learn. If you teach them that we experience all of these things calmly, then that is what they will learn. They do not need to approach people or dogs to learn to be okay with them.

  2. Socialization to dogs, in the sense of continuing to learn play-styles and body language, can be done in a structured play setting–like inviting other well-behaved dogs over to play, or taking them to a puppy class where play is involved, or having them attend a conscientious daycare (like Dogwoods) or doing buddy times (one on one play) at Dogwoods. Trained professionals won’t let your puppy get overwhelmed/traumatized by dogs, which often happens when owners try to allow their puppies to play with the wrong dogs.


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