When Dogs (over) React

Does your otherwise great pup, loose his or her mind when they see a dog, skateboarder or delivery truck? If so, you have a reactive dog. Often these dogs lose out on activities with their people because they can be so difficult to manage, but it doesn’t have to be this way.

Dogs ReactingReactive dogs can be fixed, but it takes focused effort. Trying to fix a behavior at the end of the day when you’re exhausted, distracted or focused on other things doesn’t work. Ideally, set up time to work on this when you’re in the training frame of mind, a Saturday morning for example. Work in short intervals; 5-10 minutes in areas with lots of triggers.

And until you have the problem resolved, when you don’t feel like training, walk in places where you don’t see the thing that triggers your pup (dogs, delivery trucks, etc). If this isn’t possible, walk with a Gentle Leader Head Halter so you can control your dog’s mouth and not have a bad situation.

First, Move Past the Trigger

  1. Focus on your dog and the environment – all the time
  2. Place yourself between your dog and the trigger
  3. Get distance between your dog and the trigger –
    enough distance that your dog is able to keep their cool
  4. Distract your dog –
    1. Leave it (tells them what you want them to do)
    2. Look exercise (works great for dogs with anxiety)

Repeat this activity over and over again, each time tracking your dog’s comfort level. The number of repetitions you’ll need to do depends on the severity of the issue and your dog’s personality.

Then, stay stationary while trigger passes

This is tougher since there’s nothing for the dogs to do with their excitement and anxiety. So it really helps to give them something to do with that building energy. The steps are the same as above, almost:

  1. Get enough distance and place yourself between your dog and the trigger
  2. Have your dog sit then step on their leash (at a point where they can sit and lay down but not jump up)*
  3. Distract your dog –
    1. Leave it (tells them what you want them to do)
    2. Push-up’s – Touch – Paw – Salute, etc (don’t push for look here)

*This can be tricky so if you need to, use something secure like the leg of a bench, sign post or tree.

If dog knows you have their back they don’t have to react

Prove to them that you do by seeing and reacting to their triggers

The goal is to support while continuing to increase the challenges.

If you’re struggling, you’re too close, get enough distance to make this easy

Did they chill for 30 seconds?? Celebrate little wins until big wins start flowing




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