Is your dog reactive? Trainer reveals four things you can do to help your canine stay calm

Dog barking in field
(Image credit: Getty Images)

One of the biggest challenges many pet parents face is figuring out how to navigate their dog’s reactivity. Whether it’s barking every time the doorbell goes or lunging at strangers, having a nervous dog in your family can feel stressful.

Although there are many potential causes of reactivity in dogs, the most common ones tend to be anxiety, incorrect socialization, and a lack of education around proper dog walking etiquette. 

While learning how to calm a reactive dog can certainly be helpful, as with all things, prevention is better than cure. Thankfully, expert trainer Andrea Isabell has shared a helpful video to Instagram where she shares four tips you can use today to ensure your dog stays calm in triggering situations.

1. Take it slow: “Slow down and wait for organic behaviors like eye contact instead of commanding your dog into obedience positions,” Isabell advises.

2. Mindset is everything: “Be mindful of the state of mind you encourage most in your dog. Do you play play play with them or encourage relaxation like place and downtime in the kennel?”

3. Be self aware: “Understand the role you play in the relationship with your dog and make changes in how you live with them,” says Isabell. “Constant cuddle and couch time? No boundaries? Adding structure and boundaries is a great place to begin.”

4. Practice self care: “Take care of yourself first! You can’t show up for others (or your dog) if you aren’t showing up for yourself,” Isabell explains.

As with teaching any new skill or behavior, dealing with reactivity takes time, patience, and consistency. If you find that after several months of working with your nervous pup you’re not seeing the positive progress that you’d like, we recommend reaching out to a professional trainer for some 1:1 support.

For more great canine tips and tricks, be sure to check out our guide to how to stop a dog from jumping up.

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.