Combating Leash Reactivity by Independence Dog Training
Leash reactivity is a common issue that I see often among my past and present clientele. Many dogs have some degree of leash reactivity, just ask our colleague a dog trainer in The Woodlands. For instance, if your dog is excitedly whimpering on a walk because they see another dog, that is leash reactivity. If your dog is trying to chase a squirrel when you’re walking through the park, that is leash reactivity and perhaps a sign of some prey drive in your dog. If your dog is barking aggressively at your neighbor while they walk by their house, that is leash reactivity and could also be a sign of aggression. Leash reactivity doesn’t automatically mean aggression, but aggression can be a part of it depending on the dog.
Whether it’s reactivity or aggression, this is usually a sign your dog is losing focus and displaying some anxiety. If if your dog is excitedly pulling toward someone, it’s still anxiety, with some desperation and lack of impulse control. When trying to combat leash reactivity, the first step is redirecting your dog’s focus back on you, rather than the distraction or trigger. In order to draw your dog’s attention back during such an stimulating moment, it is imperative that your dog’s basic obedience and recall is strong.
Many of my clients struggle with leash control of their dogs. I’ve worked with people who hadn’t walked their dog in ages, because they could not handle their dog’s leash behavior in public. This is a serious problem, as this could affect the dog’s exercise and their opportunities to socialize. If your dog is exhibiting leash reactivity, they can learn to remain calm and focus on you and the walk, rather than distractions.
Establishing leadership is important if you want your dog to listen to you. Work on your dog’s basic commands and manners with little to no distractions. Once they are reliable in this type of environment, test them with mild to eventually heavy distractions. Find what gets your dog’s attention. We don’t want to encourage owners to carry treats with them any time they go out with their dog, but it can be a good starting point if the dog is food motivated. Make sure you hold the leash appropriately, so that you have control but you’re not constantly sending tension and your own anxiety down the leash. As the saying goes, “it travels down the leash!”
Whether your dog’s leash behavior is just annoying or bordering on frightening, the reactivity can be treated! Call us at 800-649-7297 and we’ll give you the tools and information to eliminate your dog’s leash reactivity and restore peace on your walks together!