5 Best Tips To Calm Dog Reactivity


dog reactivity reactive dog


Looking after a reactive dog can be a massive challenge as a dog owner. You’ll likely find that you struggle to visit the park, attend training classes, or introduce your dog to another dog. Dog reactivity can hold you and your dog back from enjoying life to the maximum, so today we’re going to share some of our top tips for dog reactivity and the best ways to overcome this as a dog owner.

What is Dog Reactivity?

Dog reactivity is a term that’s used to describe dogs reacting to things in their environment, and in the case of dog reactivity, they’ll usually overreact by growling, barking, or lunging. Dog reactivity happens for a few different reasons, but regardless of the cause of dog reactivity, it can be very difficult to handle as a dog owner. Oftentimes, this may be an inevitable part of your dog’s genetics, however, it could also happen as a result of a previous incident or a lack of social experience.

What Does Dog Reactivity Look Like?

It’s important to note that dog reactivity isn’t aggression, however, if it progresses, your dog may show similar signs to an aggressive dog. When a dog is reactive, you’ll often find that they pull or lunge if they are on their leash, but they could also start bouncing or twirling if they are off-leash. Barking and growling are common signs of dog reactivity, especially when they are frustrated from being trapped behind a barrier. When dogs experience fear-based reactivity, they often shift their weight forward and start staring at the target. Their ears may fall, and the corners of their mouth pull back in reaction to the thing they are afraid of.

The Causes of Dog Reactivity

Dog reactivity can be caused by a wide range of factors, and for many dogs, it’s just a natural part of their character. Some breeds are much more susceptible to dog reactivity, such as German Shepherds and Australian Shepherds. However, if you don’t believe it’s part of your dog’s make-up, it’s likely to be a result of a previous incident or a lack of experience within different social settings. The good news is that help is at hand, and there are many ways in which you can try to overcome dog reactivity.

Top 5 Tips to Address Dog Reactivity

1. Professional Training

When it comes to addressing any issue with your dog, we always encourage you to think about investing in quality training. However, we understand that professional training can be incredibly expensive for dog owners, which is why we encourage you to start researching other solutions.

We have found that the online Dog Reactivity Training course from Spirit Dog Training is a great alternative and has been used by over 14,000 dog owners to combat dog reactivity successfully. You can watch and implement in a matter of minutes. Most dog owners begin seeing amazing results within the first few days of implementing the training. 

The thing we love most about this online training is that you receive lifetime access to the course materials, so even after you’ve completed the course, you can review modules again if the behavior reappears in the future. The lessons are super easy to follow and well organized. You’ll enjoy watching real-life training videos of reactive dogs and can even receive your money back if you aren’t satisfied. 

We spoke with the creators of this Dog Reactivity Training course and were able to get a 67% discount for our readers. Click here to claim your discount and get access to professional training at a fraction of the cost of one in-person training session. 

2. Food Distraction

When faced with a trigger, one of the best ways to calm a reactive dog is using the food distraction method. Dogs of all breeds love food and are easily distracted by a delicious piece of chicken, steak, or cheese. By setting your dog up in a situation where he is exposed to a trigger, such as another dog, you’ll then be able to start feeding your dog this special treat when he is put in this situation. When the trigger is removed from the environment, you need to stop feeding your dog so that it knows that the food only appears when the scary trigger is around.

Use this training method to bring your dog closer and closer to its triggers over time so that your dog becomes less afraid of being around the things that cause dog reactivity.

3. Changes in Walking Routine

If you find your dog to be most reactive during your daily walks, consider changing the time of day when you are walking your dog. Choose a time when there are fewer people around, which will make the experience much more pleasant for everyone involved.

On those days where your dog is just too reactive, consider sniff walking instead. Dogs love to sniff, and sniffing actually helps a dog relieve stress and anxiety.

It’s so important to make sure your dog is still getting their daily walk, but by choosing a different route and approach to your walks, you’ll find that they are less reactive, and you can both enjoy your time outdoors.

4. Dog to Dog Interaction

Dog to dog interaction will help your reactive dog to become more comfortable around other dogs and is an important step in overcoming dog reactivity. It can be so tempting to isolate your reactive dog, but make sure you avoid this, as you’ll only make the situation worse over time.

Regular exposure to other dogs will help your reactive dog to feel less frightened when meeting other animals, and they’ll soon realize other dogs aren’t as bad as they thought. However, only do this in a supervised and controlled manner to begin with, and don’t push your dog beyond its comfort level.

5. Longer Leash Solution

When you have a reactive dog, one of the worst things you can do is keep them on a short leash. This only increases the stress they are feeling, and they’ll feel restricted in their use of body language. While you should still keep a good distance from any triggers your dog may have, a longer leash will allow your dog to feel more relaxed and to sniff out a new situation. You’ll find that in time, this may help to reduce dog reactivity and make them enjoy exploring new places and meeting new dogs more.


By following these five top tips listed above, you’ll soon be able to minimize dog reactivity. Regardless of why your dog is acting in a reactive manner, with a little bit of time and patience, you can work together to help them feel more comfortable in any situation.


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