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Top Five Ways to Help Your Reactive Dog

Reactivity is so tough to live with.

It feels isolating and overwhelming, and sometimes it feels like it will never get better.

Both of my dogs have dealt with reactivity, and I know how tough it can be.

The good news is that there are lots of LOW ENERGY ways to help calm reactivity and make it easier for you to train your pup!

That's what I want to share with you today.

Sometimes training is overwhelming, and you just don't have it in you. 

And on those days, you can follow these instead!

1. Quality Sleep

Dogs need at least 16 hours of sleep per day, uninterrupted.

When dogs are sleep deprived, they can show an increase in reactivity and an inability to regulate themselves back down after a reaction.

If your dog only seems to sleep at night, and isn't getting the sleep they need, this should be a top priority for you!

If you need help getting better sleep with your dog, read my blog post from last month by clicking here.

2. Trigger-Free Exercise

Just like us, dogs need at least 30 minutes of exercise per day. 

But imagine if every time you went out to exercise, a bear chased you down your street.

It wouldn't be very relaxing or enjoyable, would it?

And you would be more afraid each day of going out to exercise.

That's how your dog feels when you choose trigger (usually people or other dogs) heavy areas for them to get their energy out.

A huge portion of my clients experience a drastic reduction in reactivity just by choosing a solitary location for their 30 minutes of exercise per day.

If you live in the city, some great resources for empty locations are rentable dog parks, sniffspot, nature trails early in the morning or later at night, school parking lots when school is out, and business offices on the weekends.

3. More Freedom

Our dogs don't get a lot of freedom in the world we live in today.

They must walk nicely on leash; they must not sniff; they must not bark; they must not dig; they must not do many dog things.

One way to help your dog's anxiety or reactivity is by giving them as much freedom and choice as possible.

Just like we burn out with too much work and not enough play, so do our dogs.

Some easy ways to give your dog more freedom and choice are:

  • Longer leash
  • Letting them choose the walk route
  • Allowing as much sniffing as possible
  • Finding off leash safe areas for play
  • Allowing them to opt in or out of activities
  • Create a digging pit
  • Participate in a sport that enhances your dog's natural abilities (scent work for hounds, treibball for herding breeds)

4. Bring high value treats every time.

This is an easy change, and it's fun too!

Find out which treats your dog loves best. If you need help, watch my video below:

 

Once you know what your dog's favorite treat is, bring them on every outing and only use them if a trigger appears or you need to recall your dog.

Make it their SPECIAL treat for the scary things.

5. Take a reactivity class for accountability!

I might be a little biased, but I love taking online courses to help me work on things with less overwhelm.

My best selling course is all about training for reactivity and changing dogs' emotions towards their triggers.

Here is what a few of our students have said about taking the reactivity course here with Delta Tails:

"The longer I had Zuko the more I realized I was in over my head. I knew I needed professional help, and the free advice was not enough anymore.  Once I joined The Delta Tails Pack, it was like a weight was lifted off of me. I had professionals to help me prioritize what to work on. I had fellow dog guardians who I could commiserate with and celebrate with! Our training relationship blossomed."

-Ambrose & Zuko

"I felt hopeless. I didn't know enough about reactivity to know where to even begin. All of our walks were difficult, especially with the boundless energy of a puppy. After taking the reactivity class, the biggest change we saw was definitely on leash. Setting up a routine increased Bishop's focus on us and has made walking a lot more enjoyable. We still have reactions to certain dogs (that we manage with tools from the workshop), but Bishop has really improved so much."

-Emily & Bishop

Would you like to learn more about training and have the guidance and support of a tight knit community?

I'd love to invite you to the pack (reactivity workshop and live classes included)! You'd be a great fit.

Click here to learn more and get started.

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Learn how to handle a leash properly and safely for a reactive dog as a sneak peek from our reactivity workshop.