How to Stop Dogs From Biting When Being Leashed Up

By: David Codr

Published Date: August 2, 2023

stop dogs from biting when being leashed up

For this LA dog training session we worked with Casper and Goose; sharing tips to stop dogs from biting when being leashed up.

Knowing that the dogs were uncomfortable with people coming into their home, I had the guardian bring the dogs outisde to meet me one at a time. This is an excellent tip for anyone who has a dog that is fearful or uncomfortable with new people. The open space and distractions of being outside coupled with the dog approaching the human (versus the human invading the dog’s space) all help to create positive greetings.

We discussed the number of dog behavior fundamentals; marker words, hand targeting, tips on effective communication, the importance of celebrating desired behaviors, how to teach dog manners, how to use the positive interruptor to stop dogs from engaging in unwanted behaviors and how to read body language and cut off signals.

Helping the humans learn how to read their dog’s body language is crucially important anytime you have a dog that is biting out of a fear-based response. It’s quite likely that Goose has been giving cut off signals when his humans try to attach the leash. But since they did not recognize or respond to these cut off signals, Goose raised his level of disagreement to a bite.

Stop Dogs From Biting When Being Leashed Up

Over the years I have run across many cases of dogs who are biting people because they were not stopping when the dog communicated it was uncomfortable.

Although we don’t like them, a bite is a form of communication from a dog. Stopping dogs from biting is all about making sure that you are listening to what the dog says and helping the dog feel comfortable about whatever the interaction is. Just like humans, a dog is going to protest, try to stop or get away from things that it is afraid of or uncomfortable with. If you dont listen to that, many dogs feel left with nothing to do except bite.

Unfortunately many humans perceive a dog refusing to do something as disobedience and try to force their dog through the issue. As a Dog Behavior Expert, my goal is to create a positive emotional response whenever dogs show that they are fearful of something. Often this is done by moving in slow steps, at the dog’s pace, paired with positive reinforcement.

If you have a dog that bites when a leash is attached, you should definitely check out the free positive dog training video below. It’s full of tips to help stop dogs from biting people when they put on the dogs leash or collar.

By first rewarding Goose by for simply looking at the leash, we started to help him feel better about it. It only took a couple of repetitions before Goose was actively looking at the leash and then leaning towards and touching it with his nose. Once I had achieved that, I started moving the leash towards him in small progressions that were repeated multiple times successfully before moving further. This is a great way to stop dogs from biting when being leashed up.

I’d like to see his guardians practice the CER exercise at the beginning of the video until Goose is leaning towards or touching the leash. Once that is the case, they can start the second portion of the stop biting tip; moving the leash towards the dog’s collar.

After we shot the video on how to stop dogs from biting when you attach a leash, I walked his guardian through the same exercise. We only practiced for a minute because that’s when Goose started to offer a cut off signals. We waited a brief moment to give him a chance to collect himself and then did one final repetition that was very easy. The last repetition of any exercise is what a dog is going to remember the brightest, so it’s crucially important that you make it a successful and positive interaction.

I would like to see the guardians practicing this exercise a couple of times a day with Goose, but only after setting him up for success. Practicing after taking him for a walk or a game of fetch followed by a 10 minute rest period can really help. Practicing at the right time, when the dog has had exercise or when external stimulus are not going on. Anytime you have a dog with a biting problem, you need to do everything you can to help the dog.

For example, you don’t want to practice around a crying baby or someone running a leaf blower, etc. Those things can contribute in a not great way, causing a dog to feel anxious or make the activity more difficult than it needs to be.

I think that many of the dog bites that were occurring were a result of Goose communicating he felt uncomfortable and his humans not recognizing what he was saying. Paying close attention to body language and cut off signals as well as practicing positive interactions with a leash should put an end to this leash biting problem for good.

To help the humans remember all of the dog behavior tips I shared this in-home LA dog training session, we recorded a roadmap to success summary video that you can watch below.

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This post was written by: David Codr