Canine expert shares three training tips all reactive dog owners need to know

Dog barking in the park
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Are you struggling with your dog's reactivity? If so, you're not alone. Behaviors such as barking, lunging, and leash pulling can all be incredibly challenging to deal with, but there is a solution.

While learning how to calm a reactive dog or how to stop a dog from jumping up are skills well worth having in your toolbox, your daily walk with your pup is a wonderful place to teach basic foundation behaviors. 

According to expert trainer Julianna DeWillems, who is also the founder of JW Dog Training & Behavior, foundation behaviors have a huge impact on your ability to support your reactive dog.

Being able to get your dog's attention when you're out walking and communicate effectively with them, can help them feel calmer and more confident, reducing their anxiety and reactivity.

"You'll want to teach these behaviors at home before trying to use them on a walk," DeWillems stresses, "and of course, you always want to use tasty dog treats."

Ready to find out what they are? Let's take a look...

1. Automatic attention: "You teach this behavior by rewarding your dog any time they choose to look up at you unprompted," explains DeWillems. 

2. Responding to their name: "It's important to be able to get your dog's attention, so giving a tasty treat any time they look at you when you say their name will reinforce this behavior."

3. Feeding treats while walking: "This one may surprise you, but it's really important," DeWillems says. "Feeding your dog treats while still walking allows your walk to be fluid even when you're doing a lot of training, and prevents you from having to stop all the time."

DeWillems goes on to say that all of the above are important foundation skills when trying to walk your reactive dog and can help make those daily strolls more fun for both you and your fur friend. 

You can check out exactly how she applies each of the skills in her training video above. 

And remember, if you're struggling with your dog's reactivity, we recommend consulting with a qualified professional who will be able to offer you the appropriate support and guidance. 

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.