8.18.2010

Leash Reactive Dogs

I work with a lot of dogs in the city that are, what we call in the 'biz, Leash Reactive. The ASPCA has a great article to help you identify what causes leash reactivity, some basic steps you can take, and how to find a reliable trainer to help you.

The one note that I would make with this article when they start discussing the head collar: Don't use the head collar as a crutch. It's better to teach your dog attention skills than to physically pull your dogs gaze towards you. Besides, if you yank, pull, or harshly use the head collar in any way, you can seriously injure your dogs neck, nasal passages, eyes, or spine.

I use a head collar on Sadie after trying other techniques that seemed to make headway, but ended up backfiring down the road and she became more reactive to dogs. Now, thanks to the head collar and treats, we can walk by a dog lunging and barking through a fence without any problems or reactivity on her end. We can also walk by dogs on the street with nary a glance or reactive vibe in her body. The key is to know what distance Sadie is comfortable with, and I stick to that. She's proven time and time again that if the dogs are on the other side of the street, she's fine. If the dogs are on the same side of the street, she needs at least 5' of clearance. If not, then there is a reactive explosion. Recognizing her limits and working with those limits is a life-time commitment. I promise to keep her safe and comfortable in the limits we have set together, and she works hard at doing the right thing within those limits. I don't push her beyond those limits, and she does a fantastic job walking.

The head collar calms her, because I have a loose lead, I'm giving off calm vibes, which she in turn gets, calms down, and I calm even more. Cheese helps, too!

Here is the article

Before trying any of these techniques, or trying a new product, consult with a Certified Trainer in your area. They will be happy to help you get off on the right foot!


A side note, City Dog Training offers a 3 week class on how to walk in the city with your dog. If you are having a hard time walking your dog on sidewalks, this may be a great class for you. Check it out!