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My Pet World: A sweet dog shows leash reactivity when around other dogs

Cathy M. Rosenthal, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Cathy,

I have a seven-year-old female golden retriever. She is great with other dogs when loose, but when I walk her on a leash, she barks aggressively at them. She used to be fine, but her behavior changed when she turned four. I had her on a leash, and a stranger let their loose dog run up to her, raising its hackles, which she didn't like. Ever since then, it has been an issue. Any suggestions to rectify this?

— Emmy, Killingworth, Connecticut

Dear Emmy,

What you’re describing is leash reactivity. Leash reactivity occurs when dogs who are generally friendly react aggressively to specific triggers while on a leash. The most common trigger is seeing another dog, but it can be other things. Many leash-reactive dogs feel insecure and overcompensate through aggression, which may be what happened with the loose dog. Dogs with leash reactivity need better impulse control.

You can build your dog’s confidence by training your dog to heel, respond to her name, and always look at you while walking on a leash. But I think you will see better results by working with a trainer who specializes in leash reactivity. They will observe your dog's leash reactivity and help you develop a step-by-step training plan. The good news is a dog can learn not to be leash-reactive.


Dear Cathy,

We have a cat who will be 16 years old in August. In 2020, she got sick and spent five days and received more than $4,400 worth of treatment in the hospital. She recovered but since has quit using the litter box. I have tried various products to entice her to use them. We're getting older, and it's getting harder to bend down to clean he messes up. Do you have any suggestions?

— Scott, Delray Beach, Florida

Dear Scott,


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