Define Reactive: Showing a response to a stimulus.
If you answer yes to one of the following questions, you are more then likely reactive on leash.
Do you find yourself tensing up at the sight of another dog?
Do you notice your breathing change?
Or maybe you can feel you heart starting to beat faster ?
Are you preparing a speech to give the people approaching, as to why they can’t come near you?
Do you simply turn around and walk away?
Once we have a negative experience with our dogs while walking on leash, it becomes very easy to begin reacting to the environment.
In order for your dog to feel comfortable and safe on leash, you need to as well. Your dogs behaviour cannot change if yours doesn’t either.
Here’s some things to help you relax while walking on leash:
Take very deep, relaxing breaths. Just Breath!
Grab your headphones and listen to motivational speakers. Trust me, your confidence will sore.
You don’t have to walk right pass them. Give yourself space, know your personal threshold.
Attending group classes with your dog. Getting your dog in a group environment will build your confidence.
Walk in open areas where you can see oncoming dogs/people. No dark alleyways and sharp corners.
Keep dogs and people out of your personal bubble. Don’t even stop, “just keep swimming”.
Chew gum or have mints with you. It helps, I just can’t explain why.
Forget that your dog might react badly, forget it. Move on and walk forward.
Walk with a friend. You’re stronger in pairs.
Fake it till you make it. Act confident and powerful.
Now of course this won’t solve your leash reactivity issues. Changing your emotional response to a stimulus that makes you uncomfortable can’t happen overnight.
The more you practice and the more you move forward, the more confident you will become.
I will leave you with this one empowering tip.
It’s your job to protect yourself and your dog while the leash is on.
Keep these three rules in your head:
Say NO ! And freaking mean it !
You are allowed to hurt people’s feelings, sometimes you have to in order to get a point across
You are allowed to protect your dog. Say this one out loud ! You kick, scream, punch and fight to keep your dog safe. Simple. Your dog, your job !