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Dog walking with a reactive dog.

Dog walking with a reactive dog.

Dog walking with a reactive dog.

Walking with a reactive dog can be very stressful for you and your dog.

Dogs usually react as a result of being either anxious or fearful. Some dogs have had bad experiences with other dogs in the past that cause them to almost have PTSD so when they see they go out they stress in case they are in the same situation again.

I have a reactive dog and my walks were becoming intolerable. He would lunge at other dogs, constantly bark, and even try to bite. When I told him to stop he would not or so I thought but in reality he COULD'NT stop as his anxiety levels were so high after the negative encounter.

I contacted a local dog trainer and she gave me a few tips to help me. I incorporated them into my dog walking routine which greatly helped so hopefully these will also help you and your doggo.

1) Remember your dog is anxious so try to avoid other dogs.

2) Scatter feed high value treats on the ground every few yards to encourage your dog's natural sniffing instincts. This will help your dog to calm and concentrate on the treats and you.

3) Give lots of praise when your dog stops and looks at you for a treat. This is vital in you getting the results you want.

4) If you can't avoid other dogs use the blocking technique. This involves you spotting the dog before yours does. Turn around to face your dog and bend down towards them with a few treats in your hand, all the time watching the approaching dog. Just as the dog is passing talk to your dog and give treats until the dog has passed. The idea is to distract your dog.  Then swiftly walk your dog away in the opposite direction giving lots of praise. The more you practise this your dog will come to expect the treats and will actually wait for them. 

5) If your dog does react do not pull the lead and simply turn around and walk away. If you can pick up your dog. Try to stay calm and don't shout at your dog as this will make things worse. Your dog will now be extremely stressed so it is best to go home. Your dog will be happier there. Try again in a day or so as it can take your dog up to 48 hours to get over the ordeal.

6) If a dog approches off lead do not be afraid to ask the owner to put it back on it and also if you do not want the dog to approach tell the owner your dog is reactive. Most owners will understand and move their dog away.

Just remember that you have a reactive dog and that your walk should not involve meeting other dogs if at all possible. Try to keep away from others and keep your dog calm and happy.

I hope this helps and results in you and your dog having happier and calmer walks.