Reactive Dog Tips

Living with a reactive dog can be really challenging, and while speaking to a professional for advice is the best option, sometimes small changes can help you until you can get to see a trainer or behaviourist. None of this advice is intended to replace working with a trainer or behaviourist, but instead to help you understand your dog and their needs better.

-Your reactive dog is not being dominant and they are not “bad dogs” they are having a hard time. Most dogs react onlead for many reasons, mainly being fear, frustration or excitement. As much as it is hard work for us, it is a sign our dogs are not coping in that situation and changes need to be made in future.

-Using force such as lead corrections, verbal corrections such as shouting and aversive equipment will likely only cause the problem to get worse in the long run. In the short run you may get flashy results, however punishment only surprises the barking and lunging, the fear of the dog has not been addressed meaning the intensity of their reaction may INCREASE in future using forceful training.

-Use training equipment that works with you. Using Choke Chains, Prong Collars, Shock Collars etc is again likely to intensify the problem, try using a front clip harness and double ended lead instead this takes the pressure from your dogs neck which will help reduce their stress levels.

-Get your dog checked out by a vet, underlying medical conditions or pain related conditions can be a contributing factor to reactivity. Get that checked out to help your dog out.

-Try using high value treats to reward your dog on walks. The treats sold as “training” treats in pet shops are not usually of that much value to your dogs! Try cooked chicken, tiny pieces of cheese , ham and similar to reward your dogs!

-Increasing exercise is rarely the answer. It can be popular to suggest an increase in exercise but this often can make the issue worse if the dog is struggling on walks, in fact rest days can be beneficial to helping you and your reactive dog recover from the stresses of walks and will help your dog to flush stress hormones from their body.

-Enrichment activities such as puzzle toys, snuffle mats, treat balls or kongs can help to increase your dogs optimism and general confidence. As well as this providing them with alternatives to exercise when or if they cannot go for a walk.

Reactivity can be complex, however, at Wagging Wonders we look at the whole dog and how we can help YOU and YOUR DOG.

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