Want a better behaved dog on walks? Try this trainer’s top tip for reducing reactivity

Mixed breed terrier puppy lunging on leash outdoors
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Being able to enjoy stress-free strolls with your dog is one of the biggest perks of being a pet parent, boosting both your physical health and your mental wellbeing. But what happens when those daily walkies end up causing stress rather than relieving it?

It's a situation faced by a lot of dog owners, so if you're experiencing this right now with your own canine companion, rest assured, you're not alone. There are many causes for reactivity in dogs, with distractions in a dogs environment being high on the list. With a potential smorgasbord of new sights, smells, people, and other pups around when you go walking, naturally nervous dogs can become highly reactive.

While learning how to calm a reactive dog can certainly be useful when dealing with this challenging issue, protecting your pup and advocating on their behalf is often the most helpful thing you can do when it comes to helping them feel safe and calm.

With that in mind, Carolyn from Good Dog Training has shared a post to Instagram in which she reveals her favorite tip for ensuring that you and your dog can enjoy your time together when you're out on a walk. Let's take a look...

According to Carolyn, the most important thing you can do on a walk is to limit your dog's engagement with other people and other dogs. 

"When you allow your dog to run over and play with every dog he sees, you're creating problems," explains Carolyn. "You're teaching your dog that other dogs are more important and more fun than you."

Carolyn goes on to say that if you let your dog interact with every dog they meet, you'll struggle to get their attention when there's other dogs around. "Your dog will likely start lunging and pulling every time they see another dog," she says.

The same goes for people. "When you allow your dog to run over and greet every person he sees, you're teaching him to ignore you and focus on everyone else. All the fun comes from other people — you're boring," Carolyn explains.

What ends up happening is that we teach our dog that pulling and lunging toward people is how they get attention and pets.

"Allowing constant interactions is a huge reason for reactivity in dogs. Learn to say no if you want a calmer dog," advises Carolyn.

And if you find you're still struggling with your dog's reactivity, we recommend contacting a professional trainer for help and support.

For more great canine content, 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.