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7 Steps To Train Your Reactive Dog In 7 Days + 30 Tips 

Reactive Dog Training

Your pooch’s the sweetest when it’s only the 2 of you.

But everything changes once they step outside and meet the world.

They’ll be out of control – barking here, lunging there.

So you might feel hopeless.

However, you’re not alone.

You can still have peaceful walks with your reactive dog.

Read on to discover:

  • 7 easy steps to reduce your dog’s reactivity in 7 days.
  • 9 things to remember while walking a leash-reactive dog.
  • 7 smart ways to socialize a reactive dog and 13 tips to keep them calm.
  • And so much more…

What is a reactive dog?

A reactive dog responds too strongly to a certain trigger.

They tend to overreact to normal situations that other dogs would ignore. And it’ll not be easy to control them once something sets them off.

This can be due to many reasons, such as:

  • Fear.
  • Anger.
  • Stress.
  • Frustration.
  • Bad experience.
  • Lack of socialization.

But in some cases, it may also result from:

  • Overexcitement.
  • Lack of self-control.

And you’ll know if your dog’s reactive if they show any of the behaviors below.

13 signs of a reactive dog

  1. Hiding.
  2. Barking.
  3. Lunging.
  4. Yawning.
  5. Cowering.
  6. Lip-licking.
  7. Baring of teeth.
  8. Staring intensely.
  9. Excessive scratching.
  10. Stiffening of the body.
  11. Peeing when approached.
  12. Tucking of tail between legs.
  13. ‘Whale eye’ (showing the whites of the eyes).

Why it’s vital to train a reactive dog – 11 dangers & benefits

Training’s vital to a reactive dog as it helps them and their parents lead a quiet, stress-free life. As well as everyone around them.

It offers many benefits. However, it may also result in unwanted behaviors.

This can be a side effect of the first stages of training, which is normal. As well as a lack of positive reinforcement or wrong timing.

And they’re as follows:

Dangers in reactive dog training

  • Avoidance behavior.
  • Increased aggression.
  • Higher stress/anxiety levels.
  • Reappearing of unwanted behaviors.

Benefits of reactive dog training

  • Eases anxiety/stress.
  • Enhances their quality of life.
  • Makes walks less challenging.
  • Lowers the risk of aggressiveness.
  • Allows you to have visitors over with fewer worries.
  • Helps strengthen bonds between dogs and parents.
  • Boosts your and your dog’s confidence to take on new situations.

7 steps to train a reactive dog

#1: Find out your dog’s triggers

Before working on your furry friend’s reactive behavior…

You must first know your ‘enemies,’ a.k.a. their triggers.

These are anything that makes your dog act out of control. And they may have 1 or more of these.

In Fido land, the most common reasons are the following:

  • Vehicles.
  • Other dogs/animals.
  • Being restrained by a leash.
  • Unfamiliar people and dogs.
  • Specific sounds (e.g., doorbell, phone ringing).
  • Certain groups (e.g., children, men, people with beards).

A study shows that around 50% of canines are sensitive to noise.

And sudden loud sounds, in particular, usually trigger them, such as:

What to do?

Observe your doggo

Watch your Fido closely when they have a reactive episode.

What do they usually do?

And where is their behavior directed?

List and analyze

 Whenever they become reactive, note  down the following details:

  • Time.
  • Date.
  • Weather.
  • Your dog’s actions.
  • Things you saw or heard.
  • Events that happened at that time.

Also, answer the following questions:

  • Is a certain situation triggering them?
  • Are there specific places where your dog behaves worse?

Once you’re done, study what you’ve observed so far.

Look for any similarities in those reactive moments. 

Say, the usual time your dog does it or the things present when it happens.

Note: You may also record a video of your Fido while they’re out of control. Doing this will let you see any factors you might have missed while observing.

#2: Be familiar with ‘dog speak’

Be Familiar With Dog Speak

It’s easy to identify some triggers, like:

  • Strangers.
  • Unusual objects.
  • Loud/rare noises.

You won’t usually find these around your pooch.

So when these appear, you’ll know immediately.

However, other triggers are confusing.

Thus, you might mistake the real reason for something else.

For example, being on a leash makes some dogs reactive.

But since they also wear it outside when meeting other people or Fidos…

You may think that seeing strangers and unknown dogs is the root of the behavior.

One more thing.

Researchers found that household noises can make some dogs nervous.

These sounds are common in every household. Also, they aren’t as loud as sirens and fireworks.

So, most of the 386 dog parents in the study weren’t aware that the noises stressed out their furry pals.

Experts say that being fluent in doggy language could’ve prevented it.

Thus, besides observing your Fido…

You only need to learn how dogs communicate with their bodies

What to do?

Pay close attention to each of your dog’s body parts.

Their appearance or position will change depending on their emotion.

And here’s a guide to the important points you must spot:

Body part/sStressed/scaredHappy/relaxed
EarsStiff.Flattened.In a neutral position – held high or floppy.
EyesDilated pupils.Blinking rapidly.Avoiding eye contact.‘Whale eye’ or side-eyeing.Squinting or closed partially.
MouthClosed.Lifted upper lip.Slightly open.
TailLow and tucked between legs.High and wags rapidly to the left.Moves to the right.Slightly raised or in its natural position.
BreathingPanting at rest.Breathing normally at 10-30 times per minute.

Learn more: 15 Scientific Facts About Your Dog’s Body Language

#3: Know your dog’s threshold

Every reactive Fido has their limit.

It’s the point where a trigger causes them to be uncontrollable.

They’ll be so focused on it that they’ll ignore everything else around them – even their humans.

But to change this response…

You must slowly expose your dog to their trigger.

However, they should be in a state where they’re aware of it but not freaking out.

Referring to the table above, you’ll know if your dog’s stressed if you observe the following:

  • Tucked tail.
  • Side-eyeing.
  • Dilated pupils.
  • Flattened ears.
  • Stiff body posture.
  • Excessive panting.

An anxious dog won’t listen to you and be able to control their actions.

Thus, to keep your furry friend calm during training…

You should know when they’re about to reach their ‘reactive zone.’

So you can act fast and prevent it from happening.

“How to know if my dog’s near their threshold?”

Their reaction will change as the level of exposure increases. 

And I divided these into 3 zones:

Neutral zone
  • Accepts treats.
  • Doesn’t tug the leash.
  • Sniffs freely on the ground.
  • Follows commands immediately.
Alert zone
  • Looks at the trigger.
  • Doesn’t sniff anymore.
  • Has ears pointed forward.
  • Doesn’t listen easily to cues.
Reactive zone
  • Snaps or nips.
  • Barks or growls.
  • Has a tense body.
  • Strains on the leash.
  • Doesn’t respond to commands.
  • Isn’t interested in treats or toys.

Also, some dogs may display these signs of stress:

  • Pacing.
  • Cowering.
  • Trembling.
  • Frequent yawning.
  • Excessive lip-smacking.

These are ‘calming signals’ in the doggy world.

Our 4-legged friends use them to:

  • Ease their anxiety.
  • Tell others they’re no threat.
  • Show they’re stressed/nervous.

So these will also tell you if your Fido’s close to their ‘reactive zone.’

Thus, take note of the intensity or distance between the trigger and your dog when they show any of the signs above.

“What do you mean?”

Let’s say vacuum cleaners set your Fido off.

  • Do they react upon seeing or hearing it?
  • If it’s the latter, how loud is the vacuum cleaner before they respond to it?
  • If it’s the former, how far is the machine whenever they display the signals?

Then when your dog starts being reactive…

Act fast and remove the trigger asap

Do this so you can continue the training.

Because if you do nothing and your dog’s emotions escalate…

They’ll go above their threshold and show the signs listed earlier, such as excessive:

  • Barking.
  • Lunging.
  • Snarling.
  • Growling.

You might also like: 27 Dog Calming Signals + What To Do When You See Them

#4: Train your Fido to focus on you

Some dog parents might skip this step.

They’ll go straight to the other tips below.

But it’ll only make training even longer.

“Why’s that?”

During a reactive episode, your doggo’s world will revolve only around the trigger.

They’ll go crazy if they hear a zooming car. Or if they see a tiny squirrel lurking around.

They can act like you’re not with them. And they won’t be able to control themself too.

Thus, if you don’t work on your dog’s focus and connection with you…

Training them will be hard, to begin with.

How to make your dog focus on you

  1. Get some treats and a clicker (if you prefer to use this in training).
  2. Bring your dog to a quiet part of your house.
  3. Say their name followed by a cue, like “watch me” or “look.”
  4. If your Fido looks at you, praise them immediately. 
  5. Press the clicker and give them a treat.
  6. If your dog doesn’t pay attention to you, wave the treat near their nose.
  7. Slowly move it towards your face.
  8. Once they look at you, praise and click.
  9. Give them the treat as a reward.

Do this 2-3 times daily for 10-15 minutes per session. Repeat until your dog looks at you automatically for a treat.

Also, in the 1st few days, train your pooch in a place away from distractions.

Then as their focus gets better, do it in a busier spot or noisier time.

For instance, move from an enclosed room to an open living area. Or, train them when there are more traffic and noise at your home.

Trivia: Studies prove that smiling faces attract more dogs than frowning ones. Experts say their emotional state improved when they looked at happy humans. So while you’re getting your pooch to focus on you, don’t forget to smile too. 🙂

#5: Slowly get them used to their trigger

Over the years, your dog learned to be afraid or get worked up around their triggers.

Thus, the goal here’s to change that attitude.

For example, you must alter this mindset:

“What a scary thing (vacuum cleaner)! It’s loud, and it’s running toward me!”

“Help! I don’t know what those booming sounds (fireworks) are. They’re everywhere and I can’t seem to escape!”

To this kind of reaction:

“It’s alright. I learned that it (the trigger) wouldn’t hurt me. Plus, something good happens when it appears.”

Now, how will you do this?

Meet these 2 training techniques:

  • Desensitization.
  • Counterconditioning.

Vets say these always come hand in hand.

So you must apply them simultaneously to see results in 7 days.

But let’s tackle the former first so you can begin the training.

“What is desensitization?”

This is slowly getting your dog used to their trigger.

Starting at the lowest intensity of exposure. Then increasing it gradually until it doesn’t bother them anymore.

But take baby steps here. This is to avoid making your Fido more fearful or hyped.

What to do?

  1. Bring your Fido to the quietest area of your house. Or any part where they feel most comfortable. 
  2. Expose them to their trigger.
  3. Start at a ‘neutral zone’ or extremely low level. (E.g., lowest volume, farthest comfortable distance).

This means your dog’s aware of the trigger. 

However, it’s too silent or far from them. So it doesn’t put them near or over their threshold – not scared or excited.

Let me give you some examples.

If your furry friend’s trigger is/are…

Certain sound
  1. Record or find an audio of it on the Internet.
  2. Play it at the lowest audible volume possible.
  3. Set the speakers far enough from your dog – at a distance where they don’t react to the sound.
  1. Put your dog and the trigger in the same area.
  2. Make them wear a leash if you bring them outdoors.
  3. Place them at a distance greater than your Fido’s threshold.
  4. If it’s a person/animal, ask them to stand still and stay quiet.
  5. If it’s an object that creates sounds, hold it so it doesn’t make any. Or never turn it on if it’s an appliance.

For example, if your dog reacts to the trigger when they’re 15 ft (4.6 m) apart, begin at a longer distance. 

Say at least 20 ft (6 m) or more, as long as your pooch doesn’t show signs of stress or fear.

“What if the trigger’s another dog or animal?”

Ensure that your helper Fido has calm behavior.

You may ask a close friend or relative with an even-tempered pet to assist you. Then follow the steps above.

Note: Never start if your dog seems scared or excited – even a bit. Adjust the level of exposure if needed. As you may reinforce their reactive behavior with the next step.

#6: Pair the trigger with good things

After exposing your Fido to their trigger at the lowest intensity…

You must teach them that good things only appear when the trigger’s around.

Then once it’s gone, the fun stops too.

And here’s when counterconditioning comes in.

“What is counterconditioning?”

This is associating your dog’s trigger with something positive.

It can be anything below:

  • Treats.
  • Praises.
  • Attention.
  • Favorite toys.
  • Petting (e.g., chest or belly rubs).

Most Fidos love food more than anything else. Meanwhile, others may prefer toys, such as tennis balls, over kibbles.

But can you believe that dogs in 1 study prefer getting praise from their parents more than treats?

Thus, no dog’s the same.

So, find out what your furry friend likes most.

Then use it to create a positive association with whatever they currently fear.

How to counter condition a reactive dog

Once your Fido senses the trigger and stays calm:

  1. Offer them small treats or let them play with their favorite toy.
  2. Do this for at least 5-10 seconds.
  3. Remove the trigger.
  4. Stop feeding or playing with your dog.
  5. Bring back the trigger.
  6. Repeat.

Keep doing this until your dog looks at you whenever the trigger appears.

It means they’re expecting a goodie from you. 

And your doggo now associates the trigger with something pleasant.

From “Oh, it’s scary!” to “Hurray! It’s snack/play time. Where’s my treat/toy?”

Now, if your Fido’s food-motivated…

Use ‘high-value treats’

These are delicious snacks your dog rarely gets.

Remember, you have a reactive pooch who has trouble focusing on you.

So you must offer something irresistible to lure them.

But since you’ll be using these every training…

Go for yummy but healthy treats, such as:

  • Cooked pumpkin flesh.
  • Plain, boiled chicken strips.
  • Unsweetened peanut butter.

Note: Give your dog small amounts of treats each session. As per vets, snacks shouldn’t exceed 10% of their daily food intake. Plus, anything eaten in large amounts may upset their tummy as well.

Thus, never give in to your dog’s constant begging and sparkly puppy eyes.

#7: Gradually raise the level of exposure

If your reactive Fido looks at you instead of the trigger and they’re calm around it…

Slightly increase the intensity. 


It’ll depend on your dog’s trigger.

So you may do anything below that seems appropriate for your situation.

But remember, start with the least to most likely scenario that’ll cause your Fido to react.

Trigger #1: Sounds

  • Raise the volume by 1 level.
  • Increase their listening time.
  • Lessen the distance between your dog and the speakers – at least 1 ft (0.30 m) at a time.

Trigger #2: Specific person/group of people

  • Lead your dog a bit closer to the trigger/s.
  • Ask the person to move slightly but keep the distance (e.g., walk in place, swing an arm).
  • Increase the number of people or ‘threatening’ qualities. (e.g., add 1 more kid, bring a taller person, make them wear a hat or beard).

Trigger #3: Dog/animal

  • Walk your dog nearer to the trigger.
  • Make them meet in a closer and different setup.
  • Take your Fido from areas without animals to crowded ones if they made progress.

Trigger #4: Object

  • Bring it closer to your dog.
  • Shake or hold it in a way it creates sounds.
  • If it’s a device, turn it on. Then use and move it slowly around your Fido.

Now, after making any of these changes:

  1. Praise your dog.
  2. Keep feeding or playing with them.
  3. Remove the trigger.
  4. Bring it back in.
  5. Gradually increase the intensity again.
  6. If your dog still expects a reward and is calm, raise it slightly.
  7. If no, go back a step – until your Fido returns to a relaxed state.

And repeat until your dog doesn’t react around the trigger.

Also, keep in mind that you can only…

Change 1 factor at a time

This is to avoid overwhelming your Fido. Which will put all your efforts in vain.

For example, if your furry friend reacts to the vacuum cleaner’s noise and movements…

Get them used to its sounds first:

  1. Play vacuum cleaner sounds at the lowest intensity.
  2. Offer a treat or toy.
  3. If your dog doesn’t react, slightly boost the volume.
  4. Gradually increase it and keep rewarding your Fido if they’re calm.
  5. Stop playing the audio.
  6. End the feeding or playing time.
  7. Repeat.

Next session:

  1. Bring in an actual vacuum cleaner in the same room as your dog.
  2. Put it far enough from your Fido to avoid them from getting worked up.
  3. Give them treats if they look at it.
  4. Remove the trigger.
  5. Stop rewarding your dog.
  6. Get the vacuum cleaner again.
  7. Ask someone to move it in place.
  8. Feed or play with your dog once they see the vacuum cleaner.
  9. Tell your helper to turn it on and use it around the room.
  10. Keep rewarding your Fido while it’s moving and making noises.
  11. Turn off and remove the vacuum cleaner.
  12. Stop offering your dog treats or toys.
  13. Bring back the vacuum cleaner again.
  14. Repeat and move the trigger closer as you reward your dog.

Note: Ensure you put your furry pal on a leash during training. If you’re having trouble walking your dog in it, check out the tips I’ll share later.

Tips to socialize a reactive dog

#1: Take things slow

I know you’re eager to change this behavior of your Fido. 

(And I’m rooting for you!)

But remember, good things take time – even in training.

So don’t rush the process if you want long-lasting results.

Socialize your doggo at their pace. And never force an interaction.

What to do?

  • Allow your dog to make space for themself.
  • Let them choose a comfortable distance from their triggers.
  • Wait for them to approach the other Fido – not the other way around.
  • Step back once they start getting excited or showing signs of stress (e.g., whining, pacing, folded ears).

Rushing things may lead to a bad experience.

This might ruin 5 or 10 good meetings with other dogs or people.

So you may go back to square 1. Or worse, it’ll be harder or longer for you to train your furry friend.

#2: Set realistic goals

Like us, not every Fido’s the same.

Some of our furry friends may not like interacting much with other dogs or people.

Just like you might not want to greet every person you see outside.

And this is alright.

What to do?

The most realistic goal here is a Fido who can tolerate being around others.

They don’t need to be too friendly.

Instead, they must only be able to stay calm and focus on you during walks. As well as be more willing to take on new situations.

However, if your doggo’s too friendly with strangers

They might enjoy interacting 1 on 1.

But first, work on their reactive behavior using the 7 steps explained before. As they’ll likely jump on everyone they see due to excitement.

#3: Muzzle train your dog

Muzzle Train Your Dog

Instead of seeing Fidos with muzzles as violent and dangerous…

Experts say it’s a sign of a responsible dog parent who keeps the public and their fur baby safe.

So, when do dogs wear muzzles?

And why should your furry friend use 1 when socializing?

Based on vets, dog muzzles can:

  • Help prevent bite accidents.
  • Give you peace of mind in public places.
  • Stop your dog from eating non-food items outside (e.g., rocks, sanitary pads, rabbit poop).

Thus, muzzles are mainly for safety and training.

They’re like masks covering a dog’s snout. And they’re usually used when:

  • Grooming.
  • Visiting the vet.
  • Going to public places.
  • Handling injured/sick dogs.
  • Walking a reactive or nervous Fido.

“How long can a dog safely wear a muzzle?”

A dog can safely wear a basket muzzle for up to 60 minutes only. 

So don’t leave it on your Fido unattended or overnight.

“Aren’t muzzles cruel?”

Vets say that these aren’t painful as long as you give your dog the right type and fit.

Also, a muzzle won’t be scary to them if you introduce and use it properly.

How to muzzle train your dog?

Step #1: Find the right type and fit

For training, use the ‘basket-type.’

It’s like a cage with holes that covers your furry friend’s snout.

Therefore, they can’t bite anyone while wearing it.

But they can open and close their mouth inside.

So they’re still capable of the following:

  • Drinking water.
  • Panting normally.
  • Taking small treats.

Now, to avoid injuries and ensure their comfort…

Get a muzzle that fits their head’s:

How to get muzzle measurements

Grab a tape measure. Then take note of the following sizes of your dog’s snout:

  • Width: Horizontally, from left to the right side of the widest point of their snout.
  • Length: From 1 in (2.54 cm) below the middle of their tear ducts to the tip of the nose.
  • Height: Start at the same point again. With their mouth closed, measure their snout from top to bottom.
  • Circumference: With the same starting point, wrap the tape measure snugly around their snout with their mouth closed.
Step #2: Pick a quiet place and time

Bring your furry pal to an area without distractions. And train them at non-stressful times.

For example, avoid putting a muzzle on your dog only when visiting a vet or taking a bath. 

They might associate the gear with something scary. Which is the opposite of your goal.

Step #3: Prepare yummy rewards

Most dogs care a lot about food.

And studies show that food made dogs less hesitant to try a muzzle on.

So use it to lure them.

Then change how they react to the gear – from negative to positive.

Step #4: Associate the muzzle with a treat
  1. Sit in front of your pooch.
  2. Show them the muzzle. (Don’t put it near them yet.)
  3. While holding it in 1 hand, give your dog some treats.
  4. Hide the muzzle behind your back.
  5. Stop feeding your Fido.
  6. Wait for 5-10 seconds.
  7. Show the muzzle again.
  8. Resume feeding your dog.

Repeat until they expect a treat from you whenever you hide the muzzle.

It means you’re doing it right. And your dog now thinks it means tasty snacks.

Step #5: Get your dog used to its sounds
  1. Hold the muzzle up in front of your dog.
  2. Play with its straps to create noises. (Not too loud to avoid startling your Fido.)
  3. Give them some treats.
  4. Fasten the muzzle while you’re holding it up.
  5. Feed your dog again.
  6. Unlock the muzzle.
  7. Offer treats to your pooch.
  8. Repeat until they get used to the buckle noise.

Note: You may also ask someone to feed your Fido as you fasten and unfasten the muzzle.

Step #6: Let your dog put their snout inside it

Once your pooch’s fine seeing and hearing the muzzle…

They must now inspect it on their own.

But you must do this slowly to avoid scaring your Fido.

  1. Put a treat inside the muzzle (e.g., unsweetened peanut butter).
  2. Show it to your dog.
  3. Slowly hold it near their nose.
  4. Wait for them to come closer and try to lick the yummy stuff inside.
  5. Once they do, slowly put the muzzle around their snout.
  6. Hold it still. Don’t fasten it yet.
  7. Let your dog lick the treat inside.
  8. Praise your dog immediately.

If your Fido doesn’t go closer to the muzzle or steps backward:

  1. Lower it down.
  2. Offer your dog some treats.
  3. Hold the muzzle again.
  4. Wait for your pooch to put their snout inside.
  5. Allow them to get the treats.
Step #7: Make your dog try it on
  1. Show the muzzle to your dog.
  2. Hold it near their nose.
  3. If they put their snout inside it, slowly clip it on them.
  4. Praise and offer them treats right away.
  5. Take it off after 2 seconds.

Repeat these steps 2-3 times daily for at least 1 week.

Over time, extend the time your dog wears it. And slowly reduce the treats you give as well.

Note: Dog muzzles only help in training. Thus, they can’t solve reactivity or any behavioral issues alone.

#4: Train with a friend

This is a great way to introduce your reactive dog to another Fido.

In this method, you’ll set up the situation yourself.

So you’re more confident as you know the personality of the other dog.

What to do?

  1. Find someone with a calm, friendly dog.
  2. Ask if they can come over and help you with the training.
  3. Choose an area outdoors that’s not crowded. So your Fido can only focus on the helper dog – not someone else.

And then, do the following steps:

  1. Ask your friend to wait for you outside – in the chosen spot.
  2. Have a ‘parallel walk.’ Make them stand on the opposite street and direction.
  3. Put a leash and muzzle on your dog.
  4. Grab some treats or toys.
  5. Take your dog outside.
  6. Walk until you see your friend and their pooch.
  7. Put a treat near your dog’s nose once they spot the other Fido.
  8. Feed your furry pal.

Next, ask your friend to hide or walk away with their Fido. And stop feeding your pooch as well.

This teaches them that good things only appear when the other dog’s around.

Then once done:

  1. Tell your friend to return to their previous spot.
  2. Offer snacks to your dog again.
  3. Move 1 ft (0.30 m) closer to the other Fido
  4. Give your dog treats.
  5. Slowly reduce the distance from the other pooch.
  6. Keep rewarding your dog.
  7. Repeat until your dog can walk next to the other dog.

Every meeting, ensure your doggo’s calm or under their threshold.

“Help! My Fido doesn’t eat the treats. And they’re too focused on the trigger.”

Use Treats To Train Your Reactive Dog

If this is your case, go back a few steps.

Stop as soon as your dog relaxes and accepts treats. And then try reducing the distance again.

Later, you can meet somewhere with more dogs and people.

But only do this once your pooch made progress with the training

Note: Keep every session short – around 10-15 minutes long.  And ensure it always ends on a good note.

#5: Greet other people from afar

Your furry friend trusts you more than anyone else.

And they may also see you as a leader.

Therefore, if you made the first move of greeting other people…

It’s like telling them that those are friends and they mean no harm.

But for this to be effective…

Keep your distance from other people.

Your dog will go over their threshold when the trigger’s too close.

So they’ll act right away and lunge.

But with enough distance, your pooch will have some time to think.

And they can process the new situation well.

What to do?

  1. Fill your pocket/treat bag with snacks or toys.
  2. Put a leash and muzzle on your dog.
  3. Take Fido out.
  4. Ask a friend to meet you outside on the opposite sidewalk while strolling your dog.
  5. Once you see them, greet them in a happy tone.
  6. Watch your dog’s reaction and give them treats. 
  7. Keep doing this while the trigger’s around.
  8. Stop feeding your dog once your friend walks past you.
  9. Repeat.

Note: Gradually move closer to the person you greet. But step back right away once your dog becomes reactive. Then repeat the previous steps again.

#6: Make visitors offer treats

To get your reactive dog used to other humans than you…

Slowly introduce them to a friend.

Invite them over to help you with the training.

Then do the following steps:

  1. Give some yummy treats to your friend to reward your dog later.
  2. Sit near your front door.
  3. Ask your friend to ring the doorbell. 
  4. Ignore your dog’s barking. Don’t speak or open the door too.
  5. Wait for your pooch to stop and settle down.
  6. Let your friend in as a prize.
  7. Make them drop the treats on the floor.
  8. Praise your dog if they didn’t bark or lunge.

Repeat this until your Fido realizes there’s nothing to be afraid of. And they learn the proper way to greet other people.

If you can’t predict your dog’s behavior yet…

Put a muzzle and leash on them for everyone’s safety.

Then once the session’s done, ask someone else or a group of people next time.

For example, a friend may pretend to be a mailman if your dog’s also reactive to them. Or they can wear a hat or beard if it’s 1 of their triggers.

#7: Arrange a doggie play date

Is your fur baby doing well around other dogs and people?

If they’re not aggressive to Fidos. And they usually get along with them off-leash…

This is a great way to socialize your dog further. As they’ll learn how to interact with other Fidos properly.

But, this will only be a fun experience for both dogs if you ensure the following:

  • Ideal location.
  • Safety measures.
  • Communication (with the other dog parent).

What to do?

Pick an ideal playmate

It’ll be great if your dog becomes best buds with your friend’s Fido.

But it’s not always the case.

So before inviting someone for a play date, ensure it’s a good match.


First, the other dog must be well-socialized and has good manners.

Also, it’s best if they trained with your furry friend before. Or had a pleasant interaction.

Next, check the notes you wrote about your Fido.

Some dogs get along best with opposite genders than those of the same kind.

Meanwhile, other Fidos might avoid certain breeds too.

Lastly, they should be similar to your doggo in these aspects:

  • Size.
  • Energy level.
  • Play style (e.g., both enjoy stalking and being chased).

This doesn’t mean small dogs can’t get along with bigger ones.

It’s possible. But to have a safe first encounter, it’s best to go with a pooch as big as your furry pal.

This will avoid injuries, as tinier dogs are more fragile than larger breeds.

Find a ‘neutral’ zone

Avoid having the play date in your house or the other dog parent’s.

Ideally, the location must be unfamiliar for both Fidos.

This is because your furry friend might be territorial if you do this at your home. And vice versa.

So choose an unknown place for both dogs, such as a:

  • Quiet fenced area.
  • Dog-safe indoor space.

Also, ensure that the venue has enough space for your 4-legged friends.

But not too wide that they’re several meters away from you.

Walk both dogs on leash

Before you start, introduce the 2 Fidos by taking a 15-minute stroll around the chosen venue.

Put a muzzle on your reactive dog first. So they can interact safely with other doggo.

“How does walking help?”

It’ll allow both dogs to warm up to each other slowly. As they’ll get used to their scents, sounds, and visuals while strolling.

Plus, walking’s a great way to stimulate their minds and release their pent-up energies.

Ensure both dogs are in a relaxed state

Never start the play date if 1 of the Fidos seems stressed or too excited.

You’ll know if a dog’s relaxed or in the right mood to play if they have the following:

  • Soft eyes.
  • Floppy ears.
  • Loose shoulders.
  • ‘Play bow’ signals (both front legs stretch forward while raising their rear end).

You can take the dogs for a walk again until they’re more comfortable with each other. As well as their current environment.

Never force their interaction

Let your reactive dog greet their playmate when they want to.

Avoid putting them on a leash. And then place them too close to the other Fido.

You’ll only make them nervous or hyped.

Also, some dogs can be feisty whenever someone sniffs them.

This is usually due to:

  • Fear.
  • Leash reactivity.
  • Lack of socialization.

And these are common in reactive dogs.

So as long as both Fidos are calm…

Allow them to greet each other at their own pace.

Fidos do this by sniffing:

  • Faces.
  • Bums.
  • Private parts.

Studies say it’s because those body areas let out ‘pheromones.’

These are chemical signals that relay messages and hold info about the owner. And only species of the same kind can smell them.

Watch the dogs closely at all times

Our 4-legged friends may suddenly play rough with each other.

This can turn the fun, good time into a fight. And it might result in a bad experience or injuries.

Not only that, but rough play may also overstimulate a puppy.

As a result, they’ll be restless with hackles raised. And they’ll bark or whine nonstop.

So to prevent any of these…

Never leave the dogs alone while they’re playing. Then act fast in times of conflict.

  • Watch them closely during the whole session.
  • Remove your dog asap if they seem scared or uncomfortable.
  • Call them or make them do a command they know (e.g., “sit,”lie down”).
Be careful when giving toys

Sometimes, offering a ball or squeaky plush can break the tension between 2 dogs.

As it’ll encourage them to play with each other.

But for Fidos who have greedy or territorial tendencies…

Any toy might become a precious item. And this can be a cause of conflict.

“Why’s that?”

The dogs will treat the toy as a prized possession.

So when their playmate tries to touch or steal it…

They become aggressive with the other Fido.

This issue’s called ‘resource guarding.’

It’s when a dog defends their belonging. May it be their food bowl or bed.

And it’s often the reason why Fidos suddenly bite their parent. Or why they become so protective over their humans.

Keep it short

Play dates must only last for at least 15 minutes.

You can do this several times a week. But it depends on the dogs’ personalities and energy levels.

Fill your pockets with goodies

Lastly, don’t forget your dog’s treats.

Give a piece to them as you introduce the other pooch slowly.

Do this to pair the new dog and situation to a good thing.

Now, before I end this, you might have this question…

“Are dog play dates always successful?”

Are Playdates Always Successful?

Some Fidos click instantly, while others don’t.

In the latter’s case, remove both dogs from the situation before any of them become aggressive.

Then talk with the other parent about it.

This happens. And it’s alright to end the playdate to prevent accidents.

You may try again next time.

Or if the reaction’s too intense, train your furry friend more. Then find a better match for them.

Tips to calm a reactive dog

#1: Keep a cool head

Often, a dog acts out of control if they’re nervous or scared. As well as when they’re thrilled.

Thus, staying calm’s best to avoid adding to their nerves or excitement.

“How does this help?”

Dogs can pick up on our emotions. And a study shows that they could mirror our stress too.

Researchers found this by showing photos of humans with various emotions to dogs (e.g., happy, angry).

At the same time, they also played recordings of people acting out those feelings.

And the results?

The dogs looked longer at the picture every time the audio fits the emotion shown in it.

For example, the Fidos were more interested in a smiling person and a happy voice. Or a frowning face with an upset voice.

Meanwhile, dogs can also smell when you’re stressed.

In that state, your body will sweat a lot. So it reacts differently with the bacteria present on your skin.

Hence, your smell changes. And your furry friend (with an amazing nose!) can detect that subtle shift.

Experts even found that dogs’ accuracy’s around 93.75%.

But besides these…

Your furry pal may also know how you feel by listening to the tone of your voice.

Thus, although it could be frustrating…

You must show your relaxed side to soothe your reactive dog by:

  • Speaking softly and firmly.
  • Taking slow, deep breaths.
  • Avoiding sudden movements. 
  • Thinking of something calm (e.g., a nice view, a scent you like).

Note: If you’re training your doggo, take at least a 5-minute break. Get some fresh air instead of letting your frustration out on them.

#2: Avoid punishments

While keeping your composure, you should also never lay your hands on your dog.

Or even yell at them while they’re being reactive.

Based on studies, using punishments will only make things worse.

Thus, it won’t help calm your furry friend or stop their behavior at all.

Why’s that?

One, research says harsh corrections stress out dogs.

According to it, punished Fidos were often more nervous than those who weren’t.

They panted a lot even at rest. Plus, they had tense bodies which is a clear sign of stress.

Two, a study shows that punished dogs can also become more aggressive.

And this can lead to:

  • Injuries.
  • Trauma.
  • Bite accidents.

Lastly, hitting or yelling at your pooch will only make them fearful of you.

It could break your dog’s trust. As well as your relationship.

And this is why it’s never ok to hit your dog.

Sure, you have to stop your furry pal from lunging and barking nonstop.

But you also don’t want a dog who’s afraid of you. And who might defend themself by snapping at you without a warning.

So, even though your dog’s out of control…

  • Avoid scolding them.
  • Never pull their leash.
  • Don’t use pinch or shock collars.

Check out also: 13 Reasons Why You Should NEVER Punish Your Dog

#3: Stay away from triggers

If there’s no reason for your dog to act unruly…

They won’t have any reaction.

So, what makes your furry friend act that way?

Once you know the causes, avoid them as much as possible.

By doing this, you’ll stop your dog’s extreme reactions.

Repetitive behavior becomes a habit.

So the more they behave properly…

The less they’ll practice bad habits. And it’s easier to teach them the behavior you want.

What to do?

If your furry friend’s triggers are…

Reason #1: Other dogs or animals
  • Avoid crowded dog parks.
  • Try a new walking route. (I’ll share more of these tips shortly.)
Reason #2: Passers-by or strangers
  • Shut the curtains/blinds in areas your dog can reach.
  • Avoid inviting guests over if you haven’t trained your pooch yet.
  • Place their sleeping spot away from windows and openings.
Reason #3: Sounds

Block these by using ‘white noise’ or constant, repetitive sounds.

You can do this by playing any of the following in the background:

#4: Redirect their focus

Before your dog reacts…

Stop them right away by diverting their attention.


Call your Fido’s name in a sweet, happy voice.

Studies prove that dogs like baby talk.

It excites them, and it’s easier to understand.

Then, ask them to do a basic command they mastered, such as:

  • “Sit.”
  • “Stay.”
  • “Lie down.”

#5: Refresh basic obedience

To build a foundation before training further…

You must teach your reactive Fido the basic commands first. 

Or refresh their memory if you’ve already trained them.

Later, you’ll encounter tips asking your dog to do a cue – instead of growling and lunging.

So this will be a powerful tool in training. As well as in other daily situations when you must calm down your pooch.

What to do?

Basic cue #1: Sit

Start with this command, as it’s the most natural trick for your dog and the easiest on the list.

  1. Get a few pieces of treats.
  2. Stand in front of your dog.
  3. Hold the snack close to their nose.
  4. Slowly raise it above their head.
  5. As they look up, their bum will eventually touch the ground.
  6. Wait until they assume this position.
  7. Say the cue, “Sit.”
  8. Once they do, shower them with praise and give them the treat.

After a few repetitions, lure your dog with an empty hand – without a treat. 

But continue rewarding them with snacks after they sit down.

Once your pooch masters the cue, slowly remove the treats as a reward.

Give them praises and belly rubs instead. As you don’t want your fur baby to fully depend on snacks.

Apply this as well in the following cues.

Now, if your dog has a solid “sit,” you can move on to the next command.

Basic cue #2: Lie down
  1. Make your doggo “sit” or stand still.
  2. Hold a piece of treat near their nose.
  3. Slowly put it on the floor.
  4. Praise your dog once their elbows touch the ground. Then give them the treat.
  5. Repeat this until they become faster in lying down.
  6. Once they do, say the cue “down” as they get into the position.
  7. Reward your dog immediately.

You can also begin by rewarding your dog whenever they’re lying down. 

This method’s called ‘capturing.’

It’s when you wait for your Fido to do your desired behavior. Then reinforce it every time they do it naturally.

Fun fact: Dogs can learn 100 words or more. Researchers say their mental abilities are on par with a 2-year-old kid. So some Fidos may even count or remember 1,022 words – like a Border Collie namedChaser.’

#6: Set a routine

Set Up A Routine

Are you the type of person to organize your day?

Experts say it helps relieve stress and anxiety.

But did you know that your furry friend will also benefit from it?

Having a routine will add structure to their life.

It’ll help them understand what’s going on around them.

Plus, it’ll make their days predictable – hence, fewer worries.

So strive to do the following activities at a fixed time daily:

  • Playing.
  • Feeding.
  • Walking.
  • Sleeping.

Note: The schedule doesn’t need to be too tight. It’s okay to make small adjustments until you find the right program. But to be consistent, ensure the routine fits your lifestyle first.

#7: Play soothing tunes

Dogs may also react to every noise they hear.

They’ll bark at each vehicle passing by. As well as neighbors speaking outside.

Some dogs do this to alert their humans.

However, if the barking’s out of boredom and becomes excessive…

You can mask the external sounds to stop the behavior.

Apart from white noise, certain types of music also do wonders for dogs.

It doesn’t only block unwanted sounds.

As science says, it helps reduce anxiety as well.

Just like how lullabies or nature sounds may help you sleep better. Or how your favorite song calms you down.

“What kind of music will dogs like?”

Based on studies, here are the top tunes in the Dog-board charts:

Further reading: What Kind Of Music Do Dogs Like? [Best & Worst Genres] 

#8: Exercise them regularly

A nervous or overly excited dog can also have so much pent-up energy.

And that’s why they have trouble settling down.

In this case, you must burn that excess energy off daily.

“How much exercise does my dog need?”

Experts say this depends on the following factors:

  • Age.
  • Size.
  • Breed.
  • Energy level.
  • Health condition.

Take a look at this table as an example:

Dog’s life stageRecommended daily exercise
Puppies5 minutes per month of age (e.g., 4 months = 20 minutes).
Adult (Average energy level)1-2 hours
Adult (Working breed)2 hours or more
Senior dogs (And those with ailments)1 hour or less (no extreme activities, with frequent breaks)

You can meet your dog’s daily exercise needs by:

  • Walking.
  • Jogging.
  • Running.

Do this for at least 15-20 minutes per session. And to avoid reactivity, choose places with fewer or no triggers.

#9: Stimulate their mind

Exercising your dog’s mind is as important as working out their body.

Also, this will tire them out and keep them busy.

What to do?

  • Teach them new tricks/commands.
  • Provide snuffle mats (to encourage foraging).
  • Play brain games (e.g., hide and seek, treasure hunt).
  • Give them dog puzzle toys to solve (e.g., level 1, 2, 3, 4).
  • Ask them to fetch a toy or help with a chore (ideal for working breeds).

You might also want to check out: 50 Fun Games To Play With Your Dog (Inside & Outside)

#10: Offer chew toys

Having something in your dog’s mouth will keep them from barking.

It’ll also make them occupied for hours. And the action itself relieves stress too.

Thus, give a fun chew toy to your reactive Fido to help them relax.

It must be non-toxic and durable, so I recommend classic Kong dog toys.

And fill them with delicious goodies inside, like:

  • Kibbles.
  • Dog treats.
  • Canned dog food.
  • Unsweetened peanut butter.

Note: During hot days, you can freeze your dog’s Kong toy filled with peanut butter before giving it to them.

#11: Provide a safe space

Have you experienced feeling overwhelmed by something or everything around you?

So you look for a safe place. Say, your bedroom or anywhere peaceful?

If yes, our 4-legged friends can also do the same.

Some reactive dogs may hide if a trigger’s bothering them.

Say when they’re scared of strangers. Or if they feel overwhelmed by whatever’s happening in their surroundings.

And to calm them down, they need a place to retreat.

Somewhere quiet – where they feel safe and away from everyone.

This can be a:

Ensure it has a comfy cushion where your dog can lie down. As well as food, water, and toys.

Lead your furry pal to it as soon as they start showing signs of reactivity.

This teaches them they have a place to hide when things like this happen.

Then while your dog’s in their space, leave them in the meantime.

Wait for them to settle down and come out on their own.

Note: The safe space should always be accessible for your dog. So they can go inside it during panic attacks or when they feel unsafe.

#12: Reward calmness

Reactive dogs struggle to relax – especially around their triggers.

So they might not listen to you at the start of training. This is even if you ask them to sit down or be quiet.

However, you can slowly work on that behavior.

What to do?

Instead of telling your reactive dog to be calm…

Wait for them to settle down on their own.

Capture the times they’re relaxed. And always reward them for being in that state.

For example, give your furry friend a treat while they’re lying down quietly. Or when they’re snuggling next to you.

Now after rewarding them, your dog might follow and beg you for treats.

Although it’s hard, ignore them as it’s not the behavior you want to reinforce.

Also, your doggo may act calm.

But they’re looking at you – waiting for a yummy snack.

Thus, be extra careful.

Only reward your Fido if they’re naturally relaxed and not thinking of treats.

If you want to learn more and see how this should be done…

Check out this short tutorial clip:

Note: Keep doing this until your dog learns that calmness leads to good things. And it’s an enjoyable activity.

#13: Seek an expert’s help

Now, if your dog’s constantly anxious after doing most of the tips above…

You must rule out any health issues next.

Discomfort or pain can make your dog reactive to touch.

Because of this, they may also be wary of strangers and other dogs if they get too close.

Plus, they could be more sensitive to sounds too.

Research found that loud noise can worsen a dog’s pain.

It’s because when startled, they may tense an aching muscle. Or move a part of their body that’s hurting.

Thus, call and visit your vet asap if your dog shows other symptoms of illness, such as:

  • Limping.
  • Vomiting.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Unusual peeing/pooping patterns.
  • Tenderness in a certain body area.

“Help! My dog has a clean bill of health.”

If your furry friend isn’t sick, and you’ve also asked for a trainer’s help…

Your vet may consider anxiety too.

So watch out for these common signs in dogs:

Your vet might give your dog medications to manage their nerves. And ask you to carry on with the training.

Read also: Quiz: Does My Dog Have Anxiety? Test It With These 9 Signs

Tips to walk a reactive dog

#1: Get the right walking equipment

Use The Right Equipment

Reactive dogs tend to lunge when they see a trigger.

So first, ensure your Fido’s safety and comfort while strolling.

As well as the security of everyone around you.

These will greatly depend on the walking gear they wear.

So you must pick the most suitable for your reactive pooch.

By doing this, you’ll:

  • Worry less during walks.
  • Lower the risk of accidents.
  • Protect your dog and the public.

“How do I choose the right walking equipment for my reactive dog?”

You must consider the following factors:

Leash length

The standard’s 6 ft (1.80 m) long when training dogs or puppies.

It’s short enough to control your pooch quickly. And to make them stay by your side while walking.

But it’s not too long to encourage your reactive dog to pull.

And it also doesn’t limit their movements or create tension.

Type of walking equipment

Collars aren’t suitable for dogs who pull their leash.

Studies show that sudden pressure can put them at risk of neck injuries.

So for your reactive dog, pick any of these 2 ideal walking gears:

Option #1: Front clip harness

Harnesses hold a larger body area than collars.

They cover your dog’s:

  • Chest.
  • Shoulders.
  • Upper back.

Thus, if your pooch suddenly tugs their leash…

The pressure spreads throughout their body. So it isn’t only focused on their neck.

Now, the ideal harness for your reactive dog’s a front-clip type.

It fastens at their chest, not the top of their back.

So it’ll be easier for you to redirect your Fido when they become reactive.

As it’s more difficult to control them if the leash hooks at the center of their body mass.

You may get a lightweight type or a padded vest harness.

But double-check the size first to ensure it fits your dog’s body.

Option #2: Head halters

These consist of nylon straps that wrap around a dog’s snout and neck.

At a glance, they may look like a muzzle.

But they have a different purpose.

Head halters or collars still allow your dog to drink, eat, and bark. So these can’t stop your pooch from biting.

Also, they aren’t painful as you might think.

“How does a head collar work?”

It redirects your reactive dog as fast and gently as possible.

For instance, if they start pulling their leash while wearing this…

The strap around their nose will divert their head to you.

As a result, they won’t move forward. Also, their focus will shift to you.

Plus, since it’s an automatic response due to the collar’s design…

You won’t have to exert much pressure to keep your dog on the right path.

Thus, head halters don’t keep your Fido’s mouth shut. And they don’t also put tension on their throat and neck.

If you’re interested, here are the most popular brands:

Note: Ensure your dog’s gear isn’t too tight or loose. You should still be able to fit 2 fingers between the harness/halter and their skin.

Also, check it regularly. This is to see if they have grown from it to avoid skin issues and discomfort.


Don’t forget to inspect your equipment too.

Their bolts and hooks must be durable enough to prevent your dog from escaping.

Plus, they should last longer as well.

Your best choice here’s heavy-duty stainless steel.

But know that it’ll cost more than brass – the 2nd ideal option.

Note: Never use a retractable leash on your reactive dog. It can extend up to 26 ft (8 m), so you’ll give them the freedom to go anywhere and pull harder. Also, vets say this leash may cause neck injuries if you lock it as your furry pal runs away.

#2: Ensure you’re both calm before going out

Aside from your dog, you must also be relaxed before and during the walk.

Our 4-legged friends could pick up on human emotions.

Plus, your stress can affect your furry pal. And it’ll make them more nervous.

So, always begin your walks with a calm, positive mind.

  • Listen to relaxing music.
  • Take long, deep breaths.
  • Get some fresh air outside.

If your dog seems anxious or overexcited, help them settle down first.

Play with them inside for a while. Or lead them to their safe space to relieve their stress.

#3: Stay away from crowded areas

The more your dog shows unwanted behaviors…

The more they’ll become bad habits.

So lessen the chances of your dog being reactive during walks.

What to do?

  • Choose a quieter and less busy route.
  • Stay away from narrow and busy sidewalks.
  • Avoid close interactions while you work on your dog’s reactivity.
  • Always keep your distance from everybody – hounds and people.

Also, avoid going to places where there are many:

  • Dogs.
  • Children.
  • Unfamiliar adults.

The best example of this is a dog park.

Experts say it can be overwhelming – especially for a nervous pooch.

There are many unknown Fidos and people around. So it’ll only make your furry friend more fearful.

On the other hand, if you have an overexcited dog…

They can pick up bad habits and manners in a park setting.

This is compared to a doggie playdate that you set up yourself. And where you know the other hound they’ll interact with.

#4: Go out during off-peak period

Stroll with your reactive dog during less busy hours.

It’s when only a few other Fidos, vehicles, and people are outside.

This may vary per neighborhood.

But usually, early mornings are ideal. As there aren’t many people and cars out as the sun rises.

Also, a study in the US found that during weekdays, evenings are the busiest hours.

This is because many people walk their dogs and visit parks at night.

#5: Keep an eye on your dog’s body cues

While walking your furry friend, observe them closely.

Watch out for the signs below, suggesting your dog’s getting nearer to the ‘reactive zone.’

  • Side-eyeing.
  • Refusing treats.
  • Stepping backward.
  • Not listening to you.
  • Stiffening of the body.
  • Busy staring at a certain area.
  • Starts moving forward on the leash.

Note: Not all reactive dogs may show the exact behaviors above. It may also take a while to notice your Fido’s signs. Especially if they’re as subtle as side-eyeing or lip-licking.

So, keep watching and training your dog to know them better.

#6: Always be alert

Triggers are everywhere.

So besides your dog, always look at your surroundings as well.

Never let your guard down, even if you take out your pooch during off-peak hours.

Another Fido might suddenly come up to your furry pal. Or you may meet someone on the opposite street.

So to prevent them from getting too close to your reactive dog…

You must be aware of them first.

This is so you can change direction or distract your furry pal.

#7: Divert your dog’s attention

If you spot a trigger while on a stroll…

Remove your dog’s focus from it.

Assess the situation. Then depending on it, you may:

  • Walk the other way.
  • Add more distance between them and the trigger.
  • Block your dog’s view (e.g., use bushes, trees, or anything around).

You can also train your dog to focus on you. Which will be helpful in times like these.

Tell them to ‘target’ you

This is asking your dog to touch your hand by command. So their focus will shift to you.

  1. Stand in front of your Fido.
  2. Hold out your hand (high enough for your dog to reach).
  3. Say a cue word like “touch.”
  4. Reward them with treats and praise once their snout touches your hand.
  5. Repeat 10-15 minutes daily.

Keep doing this until your furry friend learns to target your hand using a cue.

Then while walking, do this once you see a trigger around or approaching your way.

Although move a few steps backward before asking your dog to target.

Practice eye contact

While strolling, keep your dog beside you.

Then if you spot a trigger and they’re aware of it but not reactive…

Tell your Fido to look at you.

  1. Sweetly call their name. Or show them a yummy snack.
  2. Once they look at you, mark the behavior with a word. (e.g., “look at me,” “focus”).
  3. Reward them immediately.
  4. Repeat these steps for 10-15 minutes a day.

Gradually, you can reduce the distance between your dog and the trigger.

Say, move a foot closer every session. Then watch your furry pal’s reaction.

Continue if they’re calm. And return to their previous spot if they’re starting to be reactive.

Note: It’s never wrong to avoid a trigger. Especially if your dog can’t still handle being around it. Slowly reduce the distance between them and the trigger only if your Fido makes progress.

#8: Stand still like a tree

Do this once your furry pal starts charging forward.

It’s because the more you yank your reactive dog’s leash…

The more you’ll encourage them to pull harder. As if they’re in a game of tug-of-war.

So once your dog sees a trigger and jerks their lead:

  1. Stop walking.
  2. Stand still as if your feet were planted on the ground.
  3. Ignore your dog’s pulling and whining.
  4. Wait until they settle down.
  5. Reward your dog once they stop pulling and become quiet.

Eventually, all the tugging will tire out your pooch.

And if they’re also used to you yanking their leash while moving…

Standing still like a tree will confuse them.

As a result, they’ll step back and go near you.

The moment your dog does this, their leash also loosens up.

So to reinforce this non-tugging behavior…

Praise and give your dog a treat immediately.

Don’t forget to check out: 9 Tricks To Stop Leash Pulling In 5 Minutes (How-To Guide)

#9: Use a basket-type muzzle

Lastly, some people may suddenly touch your pooch without your permission.

A kid might get too near your dog while you’re looking away. Or an adult may pat their head.

In some instances…

You might also need to pass through a narrow, busy sidewalk with your reactive dog.

So to keep your furry pal and everyone safe…

Make your dog wear a basket-type muzzle.

This prevents them from biting anyone. As well as eating non-food items on the road.

But it still lets your Fido eat, drink, and breathe normally.

Note: A muzzle can also give off a “stay away” warning. This way, you’ll keep other people from being too close to your dog.

#BONUS: It’s alright to say “no”

You Can Say No

During your walks, you may meet some people who’ll find your dog so adorable.

Well, it’s true, and you can’t do something about it.

Thus, they may want to touch or get closer to your pooch.

But remember, you have a reactive dog.

To keep everybody safe, politely say “no” to them.

Explain that you’re currently training your Fido.

Your dog could be nervous around strangers. And they might not be used to other people touching them.

So they may become aggressive and snap at anyone.

Or, you can also have an overly excited dog.

They can’t control themself well around others. Thus, they may surprise or overwhelm a stranger.

Fun fact: Research says dogs use their facial muscles to get reactions from humans. They learned that most people can’t resist ‘puppy eyes.’ And they also knew how to move their brows to copy a sad face.

More tips to calm your reactive dog

If you follow the steps and tips above, you should be able to train your reactive dog in 7 days or less. But there are more ways to calm a reactive dog. 

That’s why I created this additional resource for you:

Free Guide: 101 Ways To Calm A Hyperactive And Reactive Dog