Reactive dog training can be difficult. It is hard to know what to do, how to do it, and if you are even doing it right. On top of that you are trying to make sure you are keeping your dog safe and maintaining control to keep them out of trouble. All this while your dog is barking at other dogs! Read on to learn our top reactive dog training tool suggestions for reactive dogs and their owners. We will take the guesswork out of what you need to make sure you have it in your tool box ready to go.
Now I know a lot of people are like, “How am I supposed to handle my screaming dog on a leash with the clicker and make sure I stay upright?” I get that. Dog training in general is all about coordination and sometimes I feel like I should have taken a Zumba class just to set me up to be successful while handling all of the things. A clicker though, makes a big enough difference in your dog’s success that it is worth learning how to juggle it. This tool improves your dog's ability to stay under threshold and make good choices in ways that no other marker signal can, especially for dogs that are new to the process. So get yourself a clicker and learn how to use it here. If you are concerned it will be too much to juggle, you could always tether your clicker to the handle of your leash so you always have it nearby ready to go!
Watch our video on the best way to hold a leash. This will help you stay coordinated! Click here.
A Great Harness!
I want you to remember that not all harnesses are created equal. Many of them are designed to be very comfortable for your dog but can actually give them more leverage to pull. That might be fine for a young, small dog but when you have a large dog at the end of the leash tugging forward and possibly reacting, it is important that you have a tool that can redirect them in a safe and comfortable way and give you more control. Now, if you are uncomfortable using a harness or you use another, aversive type tool to maintain control over your dog, I want you to check out our previous blog post on the most common mistakes people make with reactive dogs. You can check that out here.
Our favorite harness, the one that gives most of our clients the best control over their dog in a kind and humane way is the Freedom Harness. It is designed to sit comfortably on your dog and it allows you to maintain control of them in sticky situations. If you have a really strong dog or you’re concerned that a body
just won't work for them, then our second recommendation is a head collar. Not just any head collar though. We really prefer the Halti as it comes with a second security strap to make sure any boisterous dogs can not take it off and escape. Simply using a proper attachment device to your dog like a harness or Halti can make a huge difference in their behavior. However, it is not the sole solution. It is important to teach your dog to walk politely on leash and to give in to leash pressure. This way when you do walk them, if you need to remove them from a sticky situation they are more likely to follow. Check out our free resources on that here.
Our last and maybe most important training tool for reactive dogs is a treat pouch. Having your treats in a ziploc bag, deep in the bowels of your pocket just is not going to cut it. When you have a high rate of reinforcement and you are working hard to keep your dog under threshold AND continue to feel safe in a certain situation, well, having your treats nearby, ready to go, can make or break your dog's success.
Your treat pouch does not have to be fancy. In fact, it could be the old Jansport fanny pack you had when you were in high school. It can be neon pink, camouflage, vinyl, plastic, canvas, it doesn't matter. The bottom line is that your treats need to be handy and easy to access at all times. You can attach it to your belt or your pocket, some of them even have a strap that you could wear like a cross body purse or just centred around your waist. This works really well in Winter when wearing a lot of layers. See our favorite treat pouch here.
So there you have it our top three training tool recommendations for reactive dogs. If you want to better understand reactive dogs and find a whole community of dog owners walking in your shoes, then join our free support group for reactive dog owners! Consider yourself officially invited! Click here to join now!