Do you have a leash biter? For example, you are about to take a nice walk with your dog and all of a sudden you find yourself playing tug-of-war with the leash. Your dog seems to be in control and you are not getting anywhere. Leash biting can be annoying and counterproductive at times, especially while you are training your beloved dog. So why do dogs bite and pull at their leash?
There are several reasons why a dog would bite their leash from social interaction to boredom to even pent-up energy. Finding the reason for their behavior will help you to find the solution.
The Root of the Behavior
As stated above, there are a few reasons why dogs exhibit this leash biting behavior while on a walk and it is important to find the root of this behavior. You first have to realize that being outside is a high-energy, overly sensual area for dogs. There are so many smells, unusual movements, and different creatures, plants, and people for them to explore. It can be overwhelming to your dog's senses and create unwanted behaviors like leash biting. However, this is not the only root of their biting behavior. Dogs just like humans have different emotions that can cause this behavior including being playful, boredom, cooped up energy, and frustration. Many dogs see going for a walk as ‘play time’ and get overly excited. Their leash biting can be more of a ‘play with me’ act and not purely defiance or acting out. When it comes to leash biting, it could just be your dog is bored or he/she has a need to entertained. This is quite similar to wanting to play. Often, leash biting is a social behavior.
For example, you have been at work all day and when you get home, your dog has been sitting around the house all day waiting to run and play. Just like kids who have to sit in a car all day on a road trip, dogs have cooped up energy. This energy can lead to being overly exciting and cause leash biting. Your dog may just be frustrated with the training or the training session has gone on too long and your dog is losing patience with it. This may be remedied with shorter walks or training sessions.
Also, leash biting could be a cause and effect action in your dog’s mind. For example, I bite my leash which means I can go on a walk. This causation effect is a learned behavior. Once you understand why your dog is biting at his leash you will be able to help encourage better behavior. Leash biting is not a behavior you really want in your dog. So, it is important to understand your dog's reason behind it so that you know how to counteract it.
Encouraging the Behavior
Leash biting is a frustrating habit that can be dangerous if your dog bites through the leash. As a dog owner, you should always encourage your dog to not to bite their leash. You can do this in several different ways. Remember to be proactive in the training process.
First, you should never tug back or pull on the leash while they are biting. This could be seen as playful to your dog and will only increase the habit. Try not to give your dog too much attention when they are pulling on the leash, any attention either positive or negative can also be counterproductive. If your dog needs something to chew on or carry in his/her mouth, offer a stick or dog toy while on a walk. However, if this leads to your dog lying down and just playing with the toy, then this method may not be a useful tool for you.
Be sure to bring treats with you on your walk and reward your dog for walking nicely throughout the walk. Positive rewards encourage appropriate behaviors. Don’t worry, you are not spoiling your dog. Treats will reinforce positive behaviors. Make leash training fun and interesting for your dog. Explore new trails, play games and interact with your dog throughout the walk. This will help encourage better walking and less biting. Be sure to pay attention to your dog and know when they have had enough training or when they need a potty break. Use appropriate commands. A good one to teach your leash biter is ‘Drop it!’ when he bites the leash. Be forceful and stern but also be sure to give positive feedback when your dog follows your command.
Lastly, always be patient but consistent with your dog while training. It may take a little while to break a bad habit like leash biting, but if you are consistent and patient, it will be well worth it.
Other Solutions and Considerations
There are other solutions you may want to try such as stepping on the leash when your dog bites it or changing up the lead. It could be the type of leash you are using. Many are made of leather and this is a material that dogs like to chew on. Be sure to find a method that works well for your dog and corresponds to the reason behind their behavior. Some people even use a leash spray that has an unpleasant taste. This can be very effective for dogs that chew on their leash just because they like to chew. You may want to try several methods to help deter your dog from leash biting. No matter what method you use be consistent. Don’t change it up too much or that will confuse your dog.
As frustrating as it may be to play tug of war with your dog every time you want to go for a walk, understanding your dog’s needs and encouraging positive behavior will make your walks much more enjoyable and safe. So, be sure to take the time to train your dog appropriately. You and your dog will be happier for it.