If you get stuck in a sticky situation with your reactive dog, this trainer's simple tip will help you both stay calm

Black Cocker Spaniel sitting on the bench outdoors in the park with owner
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Disclaimer: Unless specifically stated, any expert comments quoted in this news piece have been taken directly from the video cited below.

We've all been there. One minute you're enjoying a relaxed walk with your canine companion and the next minute they spot something that causes them to start barking, growling, or lunging.

When you find yourself stuck in this kind of sticky situation, knowing how to calm a reactive dog is vital. 

Thankfully, Alex Sessa, an expert trainer and founder of Peach on a Leash, has shared a super helpful video to Instagram in which she reveals a very simple thing you can do if your dog gets triggered on a walk.

Read on to find out what it is...

"If you have a fearful or reactive dog and get stuck in a situation your dog isn't ready for...for example, dogs are coming from every direction and you can't get the distance your dog needs...simply scatter a handful of food so your dog's head is turned away from the passersby," advises Sessa.

This dog treat scatter tip is incredibly effective because what it does is keep your dog busy sniffing out the treats until the trigger has passed, preventing an explosive reaction and keeping your training on track.

"Try to have your dog’s head and body positioned as far away from the approaching passerby as possible, and keep food flowing until they have passed," says Sessa.

"The goal of this little trick isn’t to modify reactivity. It’s to prevent the rehearsal of the behavior you don’t want (barking, lunging) in a situation where your dog may otherwise explode."

Sessa says this method is intended to be used when you find your dog is completely trapped by a trigger and there's no way to avoid it, you feel your dog is going to be stuck in a situation they're not ready for, or the approaching situation is likely to be one that overwhelms them.

Reactivity can be one of the most challenging issues to deal with. For tailored support that can help your dog learn to stay calm around triggers, we recommend working with a professional trainer. 

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.