Trainer reveals the one thing you can do to help your reactive dog feel calmer and more relaxed

 Dog barking on leash while being taken for a walk
Dog barking on leash while being taken for a walk

Does your dog bark or lunge at other dogs when you're out on your daily walk? If so, you might be dealing with a nervous or reactive pup.

A common and frustrating issue faced by a lot of pet parents, reactivity can be challenging to deal with and sometimes, using frequently cited methods such as dishing out the best dog treats as a distraction technique, prove ineffective.

Thankfully, expert dog trainer Miles Hamilton says there is something we can do to help our dog's feel calmer and more relaxed, and it's all about reducing their exposure to highly stimulating situations.

"The first thing that I tell my clients who have reactive dogs is to stop all unproductive social interactions," Hamilton explains in a video shared to TikTok.

"This includes dog parks, it includes daycare, it includes random dogs and strangers that you see out on walks."

While this may sound a little extreme, Hamilton says there's a good reason he advises his clients to do this.

"If your dog is allowed to engage with dogs in that way, one of two things is going to happen. They're either going to have a positive experience or a negative experience. Either of which is counterproductive to training."

If you're anything like us, you're probably wondering why your dog having positive experiences is so bad when it comes to putting a stop to their reactivity, but according to Hamilton, neutral encounters and environments are what produce a calm dog.

"When we're training reactive dogs, our goal is always to create a neutral association towards other dogs. Other dogs are not good or bad, they're just dogs."

Training your pup to view other dogs in a neutral way will help them to feel more comfortable and relaxed when you're out and about which will in turn help your walks feel happier and less stressful.

As with training any new skill or behavior, working with reactivity takes time, patience, and consistency. If you feel like your pup would benefit from some extra support in this area, we recommend reaching out to a professional trainer.

For more great training tips, check out our guides to how to crate train a dog and how to reduce separation anxiety in dogs.