Leash reactivity is probably one of the top 5 behaviors we work with. These are the dogs that bark and lunge at people, dogs, bicycles or other things in their environment.
There are a few things you can do to prevent this as well as treat it. These recommendations may not cure this problem but it will give you a start and can prevent it from happening in the first place.
First, teach your dog to walk on a loose leash. The leash and it being attached to you is typically one of the causes of leash reactivity. Loose leash walking will teach your dog not to pull and strain to get to sniffs or places in the environment. Being able to walk harmoniously with your canine companion assists greatly in preventing this issue.
Second, let your dog have some options on the walk so your dog does not get frustrated. Many leash reactive dogs are really just frustrated that they can’t interact or explore their environment as they would like. If you let them sniff and sometimes go where they would like this can decrease frustration and reactivity overall.
Third, don’t tighten up on the leash, which limits your dog’s options, when you see something that may trigger your dog. We see pet parents on walks tighten the leash in anticipation of a bad interaction. This could cause the very thing you are trying to keep from happening. If you are concerned, avoid the dog or other stimulus you are concerned about for the time being. Tightening the leash can cause reactivity which brings us back to our first suggestion, teach your dog to walk on a loose leash so she is not straining to get to something she wants but learns how to ask politely how to get to that sniff or greet that dog.
If you want to learn more, you can attend our leash reactivity webinar or work with us privately. In most cases, three sessions covers it. We start with an assessment and foundational exercises, leash walking and then work on the leash reactivity.
Let us help you have peaceful and enjoyable walks!