Boost your reactive dog’s happiness and help them feel calmer with this trainer’s genius two-step process

Dog barking in field
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Do you have a dog that barks or lunges whenever they come into contact with another dog? Reactivity is a common problem that many pet parents face and while it can be both challenging and frustrating, with a little bit of patience and support, you can help your pup to feel more relaxed when you're out and about.

Knowing how to calm a reactive dog is an important skill if you have a nervous canine on your hands, but as with anything, prevention is better than cure - which is where expert trainer Adam Spivey comes in.

Spivey says it's entirely possible to teach your dog to ignore other dogs and in an Instagram video, he shows you how to train your pup to do exactly that. You can check out the clip in full below or keep reading as we reveal how to help your pup master this important skill. 

In order to follow these steps, Spivey says it's important that your dog is clicker or marker trained first. Once they are, you can follow the below process to help lessen your dog's reactivity around other pups.

Step 1: "Every single time your dog looks at a dog, before it loses its mind, you are going to click and then reward," Spivey explains. You're clicking for the visual - it knows there's a dog, the clicker goes off, the dog understands the clicker means look back at the handler to get a reward. The clicker means food is coming and quickly breaks the focus. It also teaches the dog the sight of dogs leads to good things."

Step 2: "So that we don't create a dog that fixates on dogs, we delay the click once step one is fluid. So we now wait for the dog to look at the dog and then break its focus, we then click and reward. If your dog doesn't break fixation you create more space and start again. Don't keep clicking."

Reactivity in dogs is more common than you think and with time, patience and consistency, you can see great training results. If you find your pup is still struggling with this issue after several months, we recommend reaching out to a professional trainer for some 1:1 support.

Kathryn Williams
Freelance writer

Kathryn is a freelance writer who has been a member of the PetsRadar family since it launched in 2020. Highly experienced in her field, she's driven by a desire to provide pet parents with accurate, timely, and informative content that enables them to provide their fur friends with everything they need to thrive. Kathryn works closely with vets and trainers to ensure all articles offer the most up-to-date information across a range of pet-related fields, from insights into health and behavior issues to tips on products and training. When she’s not busy crafting the perfect sentence for her features, buying guides and news pieces, she can be found hanging out with her family (which includes one super sassy cat), drinking copious amounts of Jasmine tea and reading all the books.