I remember when I first started my journey with my reactive dog. We are still living in the same place, but she is much more confident now. If you haven’t read before-we live in high density condos. It’s VERY hard to avoid people and dogs on walks. In fact, it’s EXTREMELY difficult to avoid people and dogs just going out the front or back door!
All reactive dogs need at least 2 weeks of calm. This should be a time before training starts, ensuring the dog’s levels of stress have deflated. Getting your dog’s stress down can be challenging. When we were trying to maintain an environment of calm we did many things.
- If your dog barks at people or other dogs outside-close the shades and doors. I have even seen people put special window peels so it make it more difficult for the dog to see outside.
- Put on a radio or tv so your dog does not hear people or dogs outside. This will also help to drown out the noise of doors slamming.
- Take your dog to other places. I avoided walking my dog around the neighborhood. Not only because she was attacked there, but because of all the people and dogs. Take your dog to the park, one that is VERY open and not crowded. If a park is not available find an empty parking lot after hours. You could also walk your dog early in the morning or late at night. Find school parking lots or playgrounds that are empty (after school is out). Walk your dog on unused soccer fields. Always take treats with you just in case you run into any trouble.
- If your dog is reactive while in the car keep him or her in a crate. Otherwise make it so they can’t see out.
- Play games and have fun with your dog.
- Do not invite people over that your dog is not comfortable with. Basically, don’t put your dog in situations where they will be stressed.
- Avoid bringing your dog to parties or crowded areas.
If you don’t give your dog days, or at least 2 weeks to calm down, it will be difficult for your dog’s stress level to return to normal. Therefore, it will be difficult to train them. It seems like a lot of work, and it is, but it is definitely worth it. You WILL see a positive difference if you are using positive training!