navigating the world with a reactive dog

Navigating the World with a Reactive Dog

Navigating the world with a reactive dog!

Exposure for reactive dogs is on the rise. What is a reactive dog? It is simply a dog that is reactive usually vocally and physically excited to external triggers. The common triggers for dog reactivity are other dogs and people but can also be any other animal, noises, and animate objects. The reactivity ranges from slight excitement to extreme vocalization, including barking, lunging growling. 

If your dog is reactive, it does not necessarily mean that is aggression. Although they can go hand-in-hand, they are not the same thing. Reactive dogs may or may not be friendly to the outsource trigger such as dogs or people, whereas aggressive dogs are just that aggressive once they get close. Even if the reactivity may sound or appear aggressive, the dog could still be perfectly friendly up close and have the chance to calm down. 

So, what can you do about your reactive dog? Reactive dogs can be trained to control their reaction through obedience. We first start by teaching the dog its obedience and then building in the distractions. Once the dogs is proficient at the obedience with normal distractions, we will start incorporating their triggers, teaching the dog what to do instead of the unwanted response. Over time the reactivity can be curved to where it’s no longer an issue. How easy is it to work through your dog’s reactivity, depends on the severity of the reaction, the trigger(s), the cause of the reaction, your dog’s personality, and how easily your dog responds to the training. 

But how do you navigate the world with a reactive dog?

Know your dog’s triggers

Be aware of your surroundings.

Know your dogs, body language

Set yourself up for success. 

Navigating the Vet.

Know your reactive dog’s triggers.

Is your dog reactive to people? Animals? other dogs? Once you know your dog’s trigger, and they may have more than one, you can begin to navigate the world. Knowing your dog’s triggers will allow you to get ahead of the individual situations and not be taken by surprise. 

Know and understand your reactive dog’s body language.

It’s likely your dog displays warning signs before the outburst of barking, lunging, or growling. Try to redirect your dog before they explode with the reaction. Preventing it in most cases is a lot easier than reeling it back in once they are already reacting. Common signs are; your dog perking up and paying attention to something. change in ear posture, stiffening body, and mouth huffing as if your dog is working up to a full bark. Once you know your dog’s, body language, you can get ahead of the reactivity.

Being aware of your surroundings.

It’s so easy to get captivated by our phones these days and not pay attention to our surroundings. However, try not to let the triggers take you by surprise do you walk by the same house every day that has a dog in the yard? If so pay attention to the surroundings when approaching

Set yourself up for success.

Put yourself in good positions. Instead of walking down the tight path with buildings or woods on either side, surrounding you, walk down the more open path. This will allow you to be able to spot the triggers further away. With a wider path or more room, you will have more options to gain distance. Remember the further away you are from the distraction, the easier it will be, and the less of a reaction your dog is likely to display. Swing wide around sharp blind corners, you do not walk to trigger to be right on the other side of the corners.

reactive dog setting yourself up for success

Going to the vet.

There are sometimes you cannot avoid these triggers and you have to be up close to them. Going to the vet is a prime example and can be very stressful who react to dogs and their owners. Asked to be put in a room right away. Explain that your dog is reactive to other dogs or people. Please give the vet staff notice and do not try to undermine or hide this fact, it only makes their jobs harder. Muzzles can also be very beneficial in these environments. Be proactive and appropriately muzzle condition your dog, so it is easy for you the vet staff, and your dog and these higher-stress environments. when doing so please make sure the muzzle is a basket style rather than the ones that keep the mouth shut, the basket muzzle will allow your dog to pant drink, and even eat with the muzzle on. The vet staff will not look down on your muzzled dog, but in contrast, be very appreciative that you have been proactive and keep your dog and them safe.

navigating the world with a reactive dog

Your dog can still explore and enjoy the world! I personally have a reactive dog. When he was adopted he was extremely reactive to other dogs. While working through his dog reactivity, we were still able to travel, go in public, and enjoy the world. Being vigilant of my surroundings. Getting ahead of any possible hard situations. Exploring up populated areas. Through obedience training, we have since worked through his reactivity. Now we can enjoy populated areas, breweries, parks, and the White Water Center in Charlotte. 

navigating the world with a reactive dog


How Training can help your reactive dog.

Training can certainly improve your dog’s reactivity! Our approach is to teach your dog what to do instead of being reactive. Helping them build impulse control and self control around t


heir triggers. Not just telling your dog they have chosen the wrong response, but instead teaching them the correct response. Teaching your reactive dog the correct response will set you on the path of navigating the world with your reactive dog!

Here at Off Leash K9 Training Charlotte, we work with reactivity of all shapes and sizes – from mild excitement at a squirrel to a full-blown explosion at any outside stimuli. Contact us if you would like to learn about our available programs that address dog reactivity.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *