Being the parent of a reactive dog is sincerely one of the toughest jobs in the dog world.
Having a dog that likes to act scary, to resecure their safety, is a huge problem. It’s our duty as caretakers, guardians, owners and parents of these wonderful dogs to help them adjust to the world around them.
The human world is a very strange thing for our dogs, and all in all, it’s something that can take time. But with guidance, patience and understanding – we can get you there.
If you do want more help with this? Why not consider taking one of my 8 slots for the Rebarkable Reactives Beta course!
1 – Learn Your Dogs triggers
One of which is to learn your dog’s triggers, your dog’s triggers will be certain things like another dog being on lead, or whatever it may be, it may be a person in a high vis jacket. Do you know how many dogs I’ve known that have problems with high visibility jackets.
It’s unbelievable, I promise you.
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Ping me an email and let me know, because I clearly missed it when editing!
So if you can learn those triggers, you can learn the things that push them over the edge and make them uncomfortable, you can suddenly start predicting when things going to happen. That amount of predictability allows you a window to train. So that’s your first step, learn the triggers.
2 – Pick Quieter Walking Routes
And I mean, this comes from personal experience, because when, excuse me, I’ve already he knows when Indy first developed his reactivity, we were going to one of the most populated dog. It wasn’t a dog park on American times, but it was a very dog dense Country Park, that a lot of people walk their dogs within because it was quite accessible.
That was a problem.
Because it meant that Indie would go into this situation and instantly become overwhelmed. And the further we tried to go with it, the more and more difficult it became.
Reactivity is Rough.
You don’t have to do it alone.
Let’s solve your dogs reactivity together
And that sounds really obvious, but when I took him out of that situation, and put him on a really remote, little bridle way that nobody used, all of a sudden I had, again, I was opening up opportunities to train opportunities to understand opportunities to observe because the observation that window to train that that ability to engage with your dog is critical, right?
It’s one of those things that we cannot I cannot overstate okay, because the more immersed they are in their problems, the more different difficult it becomes to resolve those problems.
3 – Muzzles Can Give You Confidence
Next, this was a little bit controversial for some people, less over others, but models, okay? Muzzles can give you as an owner, huge, huge confidence, okay, because if you are training a reactive dog, if you’re anything like me, you your biggest fear is them injuring another dog, okay or person or whatever it is that is the trigger, you don’t want that to happen to the point that it becomes a problem.
Because a dog with a bite history is not something you want, right?
Because you know that that’s going to become a problem at some point in their life. And especially if they start getting a rap for it, you know, if they start getting a rap sheet on that, that’s when you start getting severe issues, right with legal sides of things, and with veterinary bills, and hospital bills, or whatever it is. And that’s the thing that we all want to avoid.
So to me, that muzzle just means you have backup, it means that if something goes wrong beyond your control, you know, it’s not gonna affect them long, long term.
It just means you can walk them with that little bit more confidence, okay, and that confidence is really important for you. Because there is a huge emotional baggage side of things with a reactive dog. Okay, and anybody who’s in that situation is really going to know exactly what I’m talking about with this.
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4 – Get A Vet Check
Please do get them a veterinary check. I mentioned this earlier. But our dogs are quite masterful at not necessarily showing that they are having or experiencing problems. That in itself means that we can struggle to see, understand and adapt for them.
Okay, so like I said, if they’re having a bad day where they don’t feel well, that day is going to be a problem day for them whilst they’re out walking. That in itself means that you’re going to have a tougher job training, understanding and doing all the stuff that you want to do.
So get them a vet check, just make sure that they’re healthy, happy, and their insides are doing what their insides are meant to do. Sounds silly, isn’t it, but it’s very, very true.
5 – Don’t Be Afraid To Get Help
Last one, and this is a really, really big one. Don’t be afraid to get help.
If you need if something is failing beyond you reach out to a trainer to a behaviourist to somebody who can actually help you. And please make sure that they are force free, or fear free, or they work in the positive reinforcement section only because punishing a scared dog is never ever going to work.
Punishing a scared dog is like punishing me for being an arachnophobia, if you or even like the immersion theory, where in the case of my being phobic, you place me in a room with a buttload of spiders, and I would sit there dying on the inside, but on the instance, I showed my fear, I would be punished for it. It’s not gonna it’s not gonna create anything productive, is it?
So we use confidence building techniques, not forcing them to just adhere to life. Okay? Because it’s like saying, You’re scared of the outside world. Just go live in it.
No, we know that won’t work.
Instead, show me how show me how to live in that world. Show me how to be confident in that environment. Then I would be able to do right now.
Reactivity Isn’t A Life Sentence
Whilst this covers how to start on your journey with your reactive dog, it will take a lot more time and understanding in order to conquer this. It’s a project for sure. An emotional journey too. Which Is why I’ve created the Rebarkable Reactives Beta course, it’s going to be intense, but you’ll learn more about your dog in this 8 weeks, than you’ll ever get in any other course — anywhere. It’s intense. But if you’re ready for it? You’ll never look back.
If you want to do more than just start your journey with your reactive dog, then why not sign up to my forthcoming course, Rebarkable Reactives!
Need help? Book In!
Author, Ali Smith
Ali Smith is the Positive Puppy Expert, dog trainer and is the founder of Rebarkable. She is passionate about helping puppy parents get things right, right from the start. To help create a puppy capable of being a confident and adaptable family member and keep puppies out of shelters.
Ali has won multiple awards for her dog training, and has had her blog (this blog!) rated as 2021 & 2022 worlds’ best pet blog!
Thanks to depositphotos.com for the images!