In a previous article, we covered the two core pillars for addressing reactive behaviour in your dog. One; reduce the stress and/or excitement your dog feels then two; teach an alternative behaviour.
Today, we are going to focus on four simple ways to reduce the stress and/or excitement your dog experiences when out on a walk.
1. Getting the equipment right
For most dogs, reactivity is often displayed in a very physical way, like pulling and/or lunging. Because of this, the equipment we use when walking needs to not only be able to cope with this level of pressure but to do so in a safe and controlled way. The last thing we want is for our dog to become injured or to escape and injure someone else.
2. Choose where you walk wisely
The best place to walk a reactive dog is at a park. This may seem a bit counter-intuitive as parks can be busy places. However, a park offers you multiple benefits over walking around your local neighbourhood streets.
3. Create a routine
Once you've found your park or quiet walking spot, stick to it! Your dog definitely doesn't need a different walking route every day, in fact, your dog (especially a reactive one) will prefer the comfort of the same route day in and day out.
This will largely eliminate most of your dogs stress and/or excitement as they know where they are going, what to expect and they will learn with repetition that there is nothing to be scared of or overly excited by during their walks. By going to the same walking spot every walk you are creating a stable routine for your dog can count on and they can start to relax and enjoy the environment rather than being on constant alert for danger.
4. Environmental exploration
Encourage your dog to explore the environment of your chosen walking site. This can include;
When your dog is exploring the environment they are not scanning for potential danger which can help them to relax and drastically reduce their levels of stress. This alone will make a huge difference for your dog.
As a dog owner, dog trainer and pet sitter I have learnt many different tips and tricks over the years and I thought this would be a great way to share them with you. Enjoy!