As a dog owner, it’s your responsibility to ensure that your pet gets enough physical and mental exercise daily to keep him fit and healthy. Even your reactive dog needs daily exercise. However, taking these dogs for a walk can be quite a challenge, buts it’s something you must do for their own good. Use the following tricks and tips to help make your daily walk much easier:
Turn Triggers Into Positive Experiences
You need to make your reactive dog believe that only great things happen when he’s around other dogs or things (like an oncoming bike or person) that he’s reactive towards. This is not going to be easy to achieve but it’s possible. Remember that your pet is under a lot of stress when he’s reactive. Therefore, you need to communicate clearly and assure him that nothing bad will happen to him.
You can do this by giving clicking whenever you see a trigger and giving him his favorite treat to calm him down. If he spits the treat and continues to focus on the approaching trigger, try to turn around as if you’re going back home until he calms down and shows no signs of stress. When he’s calm praise him like there’s no tomorrow.
Repeat Step One Till He Believes It
You need to repeat the above step multiple times until your reactive dog believes in you. As long as you’re patient with him and consistent with the clicks, treats and praise, you’ll eventually notice a difference in his emotional response.
Ask For Help From Your Friends On Neighbors
You should consider asking your neighbor or friend to accompany you during your daily walk with your dog. Doing so will greatly boost your confidence and ability to control your reactive dog. It’s even better if the other person carries some yummy treats with him to keep the dog interested in the walk.
Avoid Situations You Can’t Handle
If you’re unsure how to manage a certain situation, it’s better to avoid it altogether. When walking your reactive dog, his safety should come first. When you see a potential trigger that you know you can’t handle, you can either choose to sit down with your dog until it passes, or walk the other way. Some battles aren’t worth fighting for.
Keep Your Dog’s Interest By Making Walks Fun and Unpredictable
Make your daily walks interesting for your dog by being fun and unpredictable. By this, I mean carrying for him his tug toy today and praising him the next day when he follows your lead etc. By doing so, his focus will be on you and what you two are doing as opposed to the potential triggers that lie ahead.
Seek Help From A Professional Dog Behaviorist
Lastly, it doesn’t hurt to consult a professional dog behaviorist if you have no idea how to deal with your reactive dog’s behavior. He or she will be able to help you understand and manage his behavior better.
Overall, walking your reactive dog can be frustrating and sometimes embarrassing, but I assure you that things will get better with time. Try the above tricks to help keep your dog relaxed and calm during walks. With enough training, patience and consistency, you and your pet will be able to enjoy the outdoors in a more relaxed manner.