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Leash Reactivity

Updated: Oct 9, 2021

Reactivity is defined as an overreaction to stimuli or environmental situations. Common triggers of reactivity include other dogs, people, noises, animals, and moving objects such as cars, bicycles, and skateboards.

Reactivity is one of the most common behavior issues we work on with our clients, so you are not alone if you experience this behavior with your dog! Reactivity can be frustrating and stressful for humans, but it's also a stressful and uncomfortable feeling for your dog. Here are some of the tips we give our clients when advising on these behaviors.

  • Use a clicker or a marker. A clicker gives you a tool to tell your dog when they are doing something you like. Using a clicker or marker in your training can help your dog learn more quickly.

Clicker Training Primer

  • Work on your leash walking skills! If your dog is walking without checking in or listening, it will be harder to get his attention if there's a distraction in the environment.

Loose Leash Walking

Polite Walking

  • Keep your dog under threshold. A dog's "threshold" is the moment that your dog’s brain passes from being able to handle his emotions to a space where he is uncomfortable and stressed. All training should happen when your dog is still under threshold.

More About Thresholds

Threshold Diagram

  • Work on an emergency U-turn. Happily say “Turn!” And put a treat at your dog’s nose. Turn around, keeping your dog close to you and focused on the treat. Mark and reward as you start walking in the other direction.

Emergency Leash Techniques

Uturn Video

  • Teach your dog to offer an alternate behavior. Engage/Disengage and Look At That training protocols involve teaching your dog to substitute a different behavior when he sees a trigger, specifically looking at his handler.

Engage/Disengage - longer video

Engage/Disengage - video

Look At That - article

Look At That - video

Need some additional help working with your reactive dog? We are here for you! Book your initial consultation with us to get started!

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