Tips for Training the Leash Reactive Dog
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If you have a leash reactive dog, taking your pup for a walk can quickly turn what should be a fun activity into an embarrassing and frustrating situation. Lunging, snarling, growling, and barking are all part of the drill when your leash reactive dog is exposed to stimuli that scares or agitates him. Whether it’s other dogs, postal workers, squirrels, men in hats, bicycles, skateboards or cars, the average neighborhood is full of triggers that can send an otherwise well-behaved pup into a tizzy of canine terror. Luckily, there are some actions you can take to curb your dog’s unsavory behavior. Check out the tips below for helping your dog feel less stressed in a highly stimulating environment.
Identify what makes your dog bark, lunge, growl, or whine on a leash. Is it other dogs? People? Rollerblades? Once you have pinpointed your dog’s specific triggers you can start taking steps towards helping your pup feel more at ease.
Introduce motivation. If your dog likes a particular kind of treat, reserve those highly coveted morsels for your training walks. He will be more motivated to follow your cues if this is the only time you reward him with his favorite snack.
Hit the street with a treat pouch in hand. Be sure to keep a watchful eye on your environment so you can identify your dog’s triggers before he does. The key is not to put your dog in a situation where he’ll feel threatened. If you spot a dog ahead, cross the street and walk on the other side of the road. Once your dog sees the trigger, immediately distract him with praise and treats for maintaining good behavior. If your dog reacts to the trigger, create some distance and reward your pup once he calms down.
Reinforce good behavior. If your dog is walking politely on leash, feel free to reward him with a treat periodically. This action will encourage the relaxed, calm behavior you’re aiming for.
Check in with your dog frequently. To keep your dog’s attention focused on you, pause and ask him to sit or touch his nose to your palm throughout the course of your walk. These sporadic rewards will help your dog feel positive about his environment whether there is a trigger present or not.
With the proper equipment and a lot of determination, you will begin to enjoy taking walks with your dog instead of feeling anxious about how your unpredictable pup will react to his environment. If the leash reactivity persists, it may be time to consult a professional dog trainer who will be able to give you more specific tools for improving your dog’s leash manners.