My dog gets aggressive before a walk


A reader asks for advice on calming her young Yorkshire Terrier when going for a walk. Your Dog expert Tony Cruse offers advice.

Q: I have three Yorkshire Terriers. When we go for a walk, the youngest one (four years old) gets very excited and starts to bark continuously. Then, when I go to put them on the lead, he gets quite aggressive with the other two, jumping up and snapping at them. Once we get outside and are on the walk, the dogs go off-lead and are OK. Any advice on how I should tackle this?

Mary Biggar, Clwyd.

Tony says: This is a common issue; the cause is often one dog who becomes overexcited and redirects this behaviour towards others. The energy spills over and can soon become something that looks very much like aggression.

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The excitement of the walk is overwhelming, and the lead is a trigger because it’s the tip-off that the walk is coming. This is why the lead starts the chaos. You can address the walking set-up, so you leave the house with a little more harmony.  

Establish a ‘leaving strategy’ where you put the lead on the excited dog first. Create a tether point by fitting a hook into the wall near the front door. You can then tether the dog by slipping the lead over the hook, or attaching it to the banister or a piece of furniture. Leave this dog with a couple of treats on the ground; you can then take your time and fit the leads to the other dogs. Practise this scenario multiple times throughout the day, so it stops predicting a walk. Once all the leads are fitted, release the dogs and don’t leave the house until you actually go for your walk.

When you walk all the dogs, have the excited dog on one side, so your body blocks any interaction. Another solution would be to ask someone else to walk your other two as you walk the excited dog. However, the critical factor is the set-up. The less excited your dogs are when you clip on their leads and leave the house, the better the walk will be.