DOGGY DAYCARE AND BOARDING CAPE TOWN - Vat No: 4200293472 073 575 4765


There are three primary causes of leash reactivity in dogs.

  1. Frustration.
    In puppyhood, we allow our pups to say hello to anyone and everyone they pass on the street. This is incredibly reinforcing for most friendly and social pups. Then as they age, we take those greetings away, and your pup is left with unmet expectations, leaving you with a frustrated, reactive dog that desperately wants to say hello.If given the opportunity, these reactive dogs would happily greet the person or other dog once they reached out, although their greeting may be less than polite. 

    These dogs are typically highly social and do well with other dogs or people on a leash.

  2. Fear or insecurity.
    On the flip side of frustrated dogs are our fearful, insecure dogs. These dogs may have been poorly socialized or had a scary experience with another dog. Typically, this scary experience involves an inability to escape. 

    A leash takes away your dog’s ability to choose “flight” – which most dogs will happily take when given the opportunity. So when an off-leash dog attacks your on-leash dog, this can cause an immediate desire to use barking, lunging, and other intimidating body language signals to deter other dogs from doing the same. These dogs are typically shy or on guard when meeting other dogs off-leash, although they may eventually warm up to new dogs.

  3. Desire to seek out conflict.
    It is exceedingly rare that we see cases like this, but there are highly confident dogs with a “let me at ’em” attitude towards other dogs that is not rooted in fear or insecurity. They may redirect onto their leash or their owner by nipping or even biting. These dogs will generally pick a fight the moment they meet another dog on or off-leash, and we recommend immediately consulting a qualified professional to ensure safety for you and your dog.


As with most difficult things in life, prevention is easier than cure. Here are a few tips to prevent leash reactivity in your dog or puppy:

  • Do not let your dog meet other dogs while on leash – ever. Trust us ????
  • Require that your dog sit next to you when meeting new people on a leash, and use food rewards to reward appropriate behaviors. You want to be more interesting to your dog than anything else!
  • Avoid retractable leashes – nothing good comes from having a dog walking several feet in front of you.
  • Avoid corrective collars; we work with many dogs that develop reactivity due to receiving corrections in the presence of other dogs, causing a negative association towards other dogs.


To truly stop leash reactivity for good, you’ve got to address the underlying cause. Punishing away the symptoms (lunging, barking, etc) is a bandaid at best.

Regardless of the cause of your dog’s reactivity, they must learn better coping skills in the presence of a trigger and must develop the impulse control to choose those coping skills instead of reactive behaviors.

We recommend working with a professional on this, as your timing and technical skills are important. You can find a well-qualified professional in your area