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Top Tips to help your Reactive Dog!

Reactivity does not mean aggression. It simply means that your dog is overreacting to a situation and lacks the ability to cope. But there's good news! You can help! Below are a few great tips to grow calmness in your dog!


1. Trigger Stacking or the "Stress Bucket"

Every dog has what we call a "Stress bucket." Many things pay into this bucket such as pain, excitement, fear, health issues, arousal, etc. When this bucket overflows our dogs may display what we call "reactivity." A overflowed bucket can present itself in many ways such as barking and lunging, jumping, avoidance behaviors, struggle to focus on owner and constantly scanning the environment, etc. Triggers are anything that set your dog off (whether negative or positive stress). Trigger stacking is when your dog is faced with multiple triggers all at once and can no longer cope with the situation.

By understanding your dog's triggers and what fills your dog's bucket you can help your dog transform and keep the bucket as empty as possible!


2. Relaxation and Calmness

Teach your dog to default to calm and you will have a dog that is able to make better decisions! There are plenty of calmness protocols to actually teach your dog to settle their nervous system and slow their breathing. Think about it, when we are frustrated, angry, over excited, etc. we are not making the best choices in comparison to our calm selves. Promote calmness through food dispensing toys such as Frozen Kongs, Snuffle mats, lick mats, etc.


3. Proper Management and Set up for success!

Understand your dog's limitations at this time, and do not put them into situations they cannot yet handle. This may mean things like walking your dog at less busy times of the day or walking very close to home to end the walk on a positive note. If your dog runs away while off leash use a long line to prevent that from happening and set them up for success while re-shaping their brain! The more your dog rehearses the "old" behavior the more ingrained it becomes.


4. Be Proactive and Train for the situation

There are plenty of amazing games and exercises to help re-shape your dog's brain! By changing the way they feel about something, you can change their reaction.


5. Proper Equipment

Harnesses with two points of contact and a double ended lead such as the "Freedom" Harness or "Balance" Harness


6. Engagement and Proximity Games

These games are very powerful tools for your dog to learn! They can learn that being super close to you in the 'payment zone' is way better than being away from you! With that, we build on their engagement with you over the environment or things that cause them to react.


7. Let them be dogs!

Dogs need to sniff, chew, scavenge, lick, etc. Give your dog plenty of time to do this. Sniffing is actually proven to reduce stress in dogs, not only does it lower their heart rate, but it gives them an activity to do and actually slows down their breathing. Take them on decompression walks, play games of find it, etc.


8. A relationship built on mutual trust and respect- Force Free Training methods!

This is so important for ALL dogs. Make sure to fulfill all their needs mentally, physically, emotionally, cognitively, socially and biologically and only use force free training methods.


9. Get rid of the food bowl

Use 60% of your dog's kibble for training purposes and the other 40% into food puzzles.


10. Confidence

Be confident and consistent!








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