Training Tips for Reactive Dogs

Hello everyone, and welcome back to a brand new episode of Dog Sense!

I'm here not only with Sarah today, but also with the brilliant Stacey Samela, a senior trainer at our school and someone who has been with me at the school since I opened it!

Even though it’s her first time on the show, we’ve been training together for over a decade! And when we’re together, we tend to have a lot of fun!

Today, Sarah, Stacey, and I are going to be discussing something super important: Our top training tips and tricks for reactive dogs!

So, whether your dog is an intense “starer,” terrified of the vacuum cleaner, or just overly friendly, this episode is for you.


Let's dive in!

What’s a Reactive Dog?

What do we mean when we say a dog is reactive? Well, as Stacey says in this episode, there’s a spectrum of behavior that defines reactivity.

You might have a dog who just loves to intensely stare at people, or one who’s so cranked up he ends up barking or lunging at you. Both these dogs would be considered reactive, although on different levels.

So, now that we’ve answered that question, let’s move on to the most important one: How to train a reactive dog?

How to Train a Reactive Dog?

Our first advice would be to find a local trainer in your area who can work on the issue. But, there are other things you can do at home to help your canine best friend with his reactivity issues!

  • If your dog gets over excited around house appliances (like the vacuum cleaner or when he sees the landscaper) — and by “over excited” we mean staring, stillness, chasing, etc… — take control and keep your distance from whatever is triggering your dog. 
  • If you have two (or more) dogs who are reactive on walks, focus on one dog first: Work on some training skills, and bring them up to a more advanced level. Then on the next walk, take your other dog by him or herself, and so the same. Eventually you can progress to having both dogs on the same walk. 
  • Practice ‘calm’ with your dog (more about this in the episode above).

We discuss these tips (and more!) in-depth in today’s episode, so make sure to give it a listen and let us know what you think!