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Why your dog barks or lunges on walks and how to handle it

“Leash aggression” is a common problem among dogs, but behavioral training can help

NBCUniversal Media, LLC

Have you recently been on a walk with your leashed dog when you suddenly noticed your normally polite pet starting to lunge and bark at other dogs? Your furry pal may have a common "leash aggression" problem.

A lot of times, the aggression arises from feelings of frustration and fear, especially with dogs that are not properly socialized as puppies.

When a dog's body is forced in a certain way on a leashed walk, it may try to create distance from the threat by lashing out, however, holding the leash tighter is not the solution, as this lets the dog know you are stressed.

No need to fret, though. There are behavioral training techniques that can help deal with this problem.

Train your pet with "Cookie Dog"

The American Kennel Club recommends playing a training game called "Cookie Dog" to deal with "leash aggression."

The first step of the behavioral training game is to sit with your leashed dog in an area with a limited number of dogs roaming around.

When you see your dog notice another dog, say "Cookie dog!" and put a treat in front of their nose. Be sure to keep feeding them treats until the dog has gone by and then wait for the next dog to show up.

This technique will train your dog to expect a dream every time they see another dog, and you can even add "sit" or "stay" when your dog turns to you at this point.

After a few weeks, you can start playing it on walks at a comfortable distance from others. Be sure to reward your pup because they react -- every negative experience will set them back. If they do react, add more distance next time and repeat the step.

Note that the best time to play the game is before mealtime when your dog is hungry.

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