Study: Leashed Dogs Twice as Likely to Be Aggressive

 |  Nov 4th 2011  |   56 Contributions


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This unleashed blond dog must have read the study. "Off with that leash!" (Photo from the Flickr photostream of P.J. McAdie)

A large new study focusing on dogs on walks has produced some interesting findings. I'm wondering how the results jibe with your observations from life with your dogs, Dogsters.

Scientists studied nearly 2,000 dog-to-dog interactions in 30 popular dog-walking areas in the city of Brno in the Czech Republic. They found that leashed dogs were twice as likely to act aggressively as their off-leash brethren. They also observed that dogs walked by males were four times as likely to bite or be otherwise aggressive or threatening to other dogs.

This leash aggression will not come as a surprise to most of you, I imagine. I'll bet some of you even have a dog who will get aggressive on leash but not off-leash. Most of us at least know dogs like this.

Lisa Peterson, spokeswoman for the American Kennel Club, told Discovery News that a reason for the leash aggression is that dogs prefer to run around each other when they first meet.

"They can't do this run-around behavior when on a leash and they likely feel more threatened," Peterson said. "They are also more inclined to resource guard, with the owner being the resource. It's as though they are communicating, 'He is my owner. I don't want you to have him because he feeds and cares for me.'"

The study's revelation that dogs being walked by males are more likely to be aggressive with other dogs is something I have not observed. Peterson thought perhaps this was because of how men trained and treated their dogs where the study was based.

What do you think, Dogsters? I have a lot of questions about the study; it seems there may be so many variables that it would be difficult to accurately tease out the rationale behind its findings. For instance, what percentage of the dogs were male, and were they neutered or spayed? This info may be in the study, but I don't have access to it yet. (It has been accepted for publication in the journal Applied Animal Behavior Science.)

Let us know your thoughts and observations. In your experience, are leashed dogs and dogs being walked by males more aggressive than unleashed dogs or dogs being walked by females? If so, why do you think this is?

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