How do I get my dog to stop being reactive on leash?

Leash reactivity is a common behavior problem that requires help. If you have ever experienced excessive barking and lunging during a peaceful walk, then you know how frustrating this could be.

Because this is a common issue that is often misunderstood, here is the ultimate guide on leash reactivity and what you should do to stop it.

Does Your Dog Have a Problem With The Leash?

Before finding out ways to prevent or stop this, it’s essential to see if your dog has it or not.

If your dog has this issue, these are the behaviors that he or she will display:

  • Your dog barks or whines at other dogs, people, or cars on a leash.
  • The dog lunges at any stimuli while on a leash.
  • During a peaceful walk, your dog would bite, shake, or nip.

Why Does Your Dog Have Problems With The Leash?

Here are some primary reasons to why your dog might act this way:

Frustration

We want to reinforce friendly and sociable behavior in our dog during the puppy stage. This would entail allowing the puppy to greet everyone that passes by. As they grow older, we take those greetings away, and the dog is left with some unmet expectations.

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This can lead to a frustrated dog that just wants to say hello to strangers. These dogs would have the urge to greet or reach out to anyone during a walk. Unfortunately, their greetings may be perceived as strange and impolite.

Fear

If the dog is poorly socialized or had a traumatic experience from the past, then it can generate a sense of fear and insecurity. Usually, a leash will signify the inability to escape leading to a “fight and flight” response in your dog during a walk. These dogs are typically shy and guarded when they meet other dogs off the leash, but with enough patience, the fear or insecurity can go away.

Conflict

When a dog is highly confident, they would have an arrogant attitude towards other dogs. They can redirect this overly confident behavior on the leash by biting or nipping. These dogs will usually pick fights when they meet other dogs, and it’s highly recommended to talk to a qualified professional to ensure the safety of both you and your companion.

How to Stop it?

Take note that punishing a barking or lunging dog is like putting a bandaid on a massive cut.

Despite the cause of this, they must learn critical coping skills when confronted with a trigger. In addition to that, it’s also vital to develop impulse control to keep their reactive behaviors in check.

It’s highly recommended to work with a professional to learn proper training techniques to stop this problem. Usually, during the training sessions, the goal is to teach your dog to notice the trigger, and to look at his or her handler instead, which will help disengage the leash problems.

Here are the steps to help alleviate or stop this habit:

First Step

Teach your dog a marker word. You can also use the clicker, but the verbal marker is much easier. You can shout “yes” when your dog sees a trigger; that way, he or she will turn back to you and get a reward.

Second Step

If the dog ignores you and gets too close to the trigger, then move him or her away.

After doing this enough times, your dog should be able to see a pattern and understand the positive reinforcement from the reward.

How to Prevent It?

When it comes to prevention, it’s always easier than curing or treating. Here are some useful tips to help you out

  • Avoid letting your four-legged friend mingle with other dogs on a leash.
  • Have your dog sit next to you when he or she meets new people, and use food to reward proper behavior.
  • Do not use a retractable leash; letting your dog walk several feet ahead is not a good thing.
  • Avoid using corrective collar, it can exacerbate the issue.

Bottom Line

Keep in mind that getting your dog to stop going crazy on a leash can take a lot of time and patience. Don’t get frustrated if your canine companion does not get it on the first try. It might take a couple of weeks before the dog starts becoming more comfortable and understand what’s going on.

With plenty of love and patience, you will have a happy dog on a leash.