• Richard Chan

Leash Reactivity

I want to talk a bit about leash reactivity.

Many people make the mistake of thinking if they have a dog with leash reactivity issue they should take their dogs to meet more dogs ( dog park, doggie day care...). From our human point of view this may make sense but it does not make sense from the dog's perspective.

Many of these dogs may appear fine after a while around dogs they know in their doggie care or pack walk; but once they are on leash meeting a new dog all the craziness will happen all over again--sometimes worse. Obviously, the leash reactivity has not been addressed or dealt with successfully at all with this approach. It may even get worst in some cases.

You need to let your dog understand that you will listen and respect him when he feels stressed and you will advocate for him.

On the walk, if your dog is reactive, you need to interrupt the reactivity early on to stop it from escalating.

If you have missed the chance to effectively interrupt the reaction early enough, you need to move back and turn around to give your dog more space. Yanking and screaming at your dog as he is flipping and spinning at the end of the leash does nothing constructive for the dog.

Many people have a hard time turning around on their walks. They would rather have their dogs lung and flip and growl than simply move away so their dogs can stop feeling so anxious and stressed.

It is not a failure to move away. It is a great opportunity for you to communicate with your dog the important message that you will give him the space and help him in handling stressful situations as a team. You can use this valuable chance to let him know you are mindful and sensitive to what he is telling you and you respect his needs.

When a dog reacts to another dog on the walk, many owners may look at it as a great embarrassment because the dog is making a big scene, for some it can be a great inconvenience because they cannot just keep walking, many may view it as a defeat and failure because everyone else's dog seems to be fine except their own.

Actually, the truth is no one has a perfect dog and all dogs have some problems. There is no need to feel bad. Also, moving away is not about admitting defeat or accepting failure.

Moving away is about an owner who puts his dog's needs above his own, it is about an owner who cares about his dog more than his own ego, it is about an owner who can remain calm to make the best decision for his dog.

Everyone makes mistake but a great leader is one who can make the most out of his mistake and turn it to his advantage.

If you fail to interrupt your dog's reactivity early, it is not the end of the world. Move back and turn around. Take advantage of this opportunity to let your dog know that he can trust you to care, respect, and advocate for him when he is in distress. Turn this to your advantage and use this experience to build a better relationship with your dog.

#training #reactivity #balancedtraining #engagement


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