Leash aggression/ leash reactivity is an issue that a lot of dog owners struggle with daily. I know that my issues with our rescue Benji made twice-daily walks an almost unbearable chore for months. Internet research can only take you so far when you have no idea what to do. Using the same canned advice results in banging your head against the wall with no progress.
As with most things in life, there are multiple ways to “skin a cat”. Several training schools of thought believe that their methods provide better or the best solutions for fed up owners. With Benji we probably tried them all with very little success. There was only one method that really worked for Benji and changed my relationship with him completely.
Any quick internet search will turn up tons of blog posts and articles praising “force free” and “pure positive” training. A lot of claims made by these trainers are true; often really incredible results can be achieved by using these methods. However, these same trainers are, in most cases, quick to criticize other trainers that use tools like prong collars, choke chains and shock collars.
A lot of this criticism is unfair, and, in many cases demonizing these tools sets a lot of dog owners who are struggling with very poorly behaved dogs up to fail. Not all dogs are going to respond to pure positive techniques. Benji didn’t, and we felt like failures as dog owners when we couldn’t stop him from exploding at other dogs in our apartment building’s elevator.
Additionally, many of the tools that pure positive trainers use end up being just as “dangerous” or “painful” as the aversive tools they are criticizing (head halter, for example).
Eventually, we found the good dog training and rehabilitation. Sean offered a completely different training paradigm than what the standard internet blogs declared was most effective. Sean and the good dog use prong collars and ecollars as part of a larger training program that teaches commands like place, crate, wait for food, recall and more. The methodology that Sean uses is so effective that it works with even the most difficult dogs.
It took me a while to wrap my head around using a tool like an ecollar, but when we did Benji’s relationship with us changed seemingly overnight. (We purchased both the prong collar foundations course and the ecollar course).
I’ve also heard a lot of good things about using substances like CBD treats to help calm dogs for walks. Our pals over at fomo bones have a really great article about dog aggression in general and treating it with their CBD treats. We are planning to try CBD treats with our husky Denver who has terrible anxiety on car rides.
Like with anything in life, it’s important to keep an open mind. There are way too many dogs living and dying in 2’x2′ cells for us to rush to judgement about owners and their training decisions.