If we want to get dogs used to the leash and do not want it to cause stress and leash aggression, then we must be aware that a leash is not something the dog is born with and that it brings with it restrictions and dangers that the dog has must learn to classify. The dog initially reacts naturally, for example by biting the leash. Because he reacts biologically logically and in a self-protective way at this moment. We can't explain to him that he walks on a leash because HE HAS TO or because THAT'S GOOD. But we can get him used to walking on a leash.
How a dog learns
Every living being that is born initially comes into the world very focused on the ego. It thinks that its own behavior is a RE action ON THE behavior of the other person and of things that it feels (instincts & reflexes).
The living being does not yet know that its own behavior will also trigger reactions in others or that it will fundamentally have an influence on something. It acts exclusively reactively. This means that it REACTS from ITS OWN PERSPECTIVE to what is external, so it doesn't think about the fact that it also EFFECTS on the other person and the other person also thinks that they are only REACTING (to what is happening to them).
How the dog perceives the leash
If the dog feels that the leash is tight (pressure on the neck or the pull backwards through the harness), he does not know that this is because he has gone FORWARD. From his perspective, something suddenly HAPPENS to him. He then tries to find a solution to it. He then initially reacts purely intuitively, for example by wanting to wriggle out or sprinting forward. He then has further experiences and then learns that behavior A (trying to escape) leads to behavior B (stress, punishment) and then looks for a solution to avoid the stress and/or punishment.
This means that the dog lives in a world in which he believes that the stress/punishment is being done to him and therefore he does not understand that he himself is causing the pull on the leash. He thinks he's being pulled and he responds accordingly (since he doesn't want that).
Since we humans do not communicate with the dog in dog language (through movements, facial expressions and gestures), but rather want to control it with the leash, the dog has a problem understanding us. We can mitigate this by choosing the right leadership style and understanding intuitive behavior.
In the wild, the dog would perceive being on a leash as a drastic restriction on his ability to react, but also on his ability to act. This could also be fatal for the dog, as it would not be able to turn away from danger and would also be limited in its ability to communicate (e.g. via spatial distance, approaching slowly, turning around, running away). That's why it's usually very difficult to get dogs used to the leash if they haven't grown up with it.
Dogs constantly try to behave in a species-appropriate and de-escalating manner DESPITE the leash. This means that they try to behave “healthily” despite restrictions. This includes pursuing behavior that is conducive to their development. Despite being on a leash, most dogs are above all peaceful and compensate (de-escalate) a lot. This is because animals are not prone to violence, so they try to avoid violence (that's why they bite the leash and not your hand, although they could break it and then be "free"). As long as resources (a territory, food, protection) are guaranteed, dogs are generally peaceful in nature (with the exception of female dogs towards each other when they are in heat and male dogs towards each other when they meet female dogs in heat).
How to teach the dog to tolerate the leash
In order to introduce the dog to un-natural things (such as walking on a leash), it is optimal to do this when he is an "infant" or young dog (like with us humans), because then his brain learns through habituation.
It is important to get the dog used to the leash early on, in short periods of time and with the right guide. Walking on a leash should only take place briefly every day, because the dog needs a lot of experience for its development, which it is difficult for him to do on a leash. Certain interactive experiences help the dog later on to be socially competent, to be able to assess himself and not to endanger others or himself, even without a leash. He is then also a perfect dog for other younger dogs who learn appropriate social behavior from him. Small male dogs in particular need to get along with large, socialized male dogs so that they don't simply knock them down. Both groups have to learn what makes the other tick and what their boundaries are. This is a particularly demanding task for small dog owners, especially if their dog is male.
We cannot save our dogs from walking on a leash, but we can understand what it means for the dog to walk on a leash and what factors walking on a leash make the situation more difficult for the dog.
This is our goal. to have a healthy dog that walks peacefully and relaxed on a leash because he orients himself to us and can read our signals. Continually threatening the dog on the leash to get him to walk on the leash is not a solution if you want to have a healthy and socially competent dog.
With the STURMFREI® harness we avoid provocations and the resulting compensation strategies in order to manage the stress on the leash. Dogs that grow up with the STURMFREI® can also meet other dogs on a leash, as they do not convey threatening signals to the other person during the interaction (rattling, strong muscle tension).