When our dog’s on a lead, politics will always occur when meeting other dogs. Why?
When your dog’s on a lead, he is technically not free to fight or flight, which makes him vulnerable when meeting other dogs (whether they are on or off lead).
Dogs have a specific “dance” or ritual they undertake when meeting each other, this initially involves sniffing the others face, then walking round to their backside. If this meeting opportunity is limited, or directed by a human holding a lead, it can often create anxiety, confusion or fear, which can turn to aggression.
If a human is nervous or fearful while their dog’s on a lead, these feelings will be transmitted through the lead to the dog. The dog will often want to protect a nervous or fearful human, meaning the dog may try and dominate other dogs, this can be shown in various behaviors.
As a pack walker I often have dogs off lead at a dog park, and will meet an owner with their dog on lead. A common reaction in humans is to be nervous at what may happen. As the owner of the dog on lead you want to set your dog up to succeed when meeting other dogs. If you can drop the lead, please do so (unless your pup is a runner). This allows your dog to be free, enabling him/her to show and read doggy body language while approaching other dogs, and be able to do the meeting dance with whom they choose.
Recommended read How Should a Dog Behave When Meeting Other Dogs? Published by The Nest