Best 2 Tips to Avoid Leash Excitement and Reactivity
The majority of today’s dogs have, literally, no leash manners.
Forget the “heel” position (the dog walking calmly with his right shoulder parallel to your right leg), most dogs can’t even compose themselves well enough to walk without almost choking themselves out!
A number of people even buy harnesses, so that their dogs can pull harder without causing injury to their neck.
I have mixed emotions about that ^^^^^
The vet tech in me knows that constant and consistent pulling can cause the trachea to collapse.
Yet, the dog trainer in me knows that harnesses actually ENCOURAGE pulling!
Unless it is an “anti-pull” harness (which I am not a huge fan of either), your dog can still use his WHOLE BODY to pull forward.
Heck, I use a harness, when I want my dog to pull my recumbent trike and get exercise!
But I don’t use it for walking! That would be like trying to fight a Dragon with a toothpick.
I like a dog that walks nicely on leash and on a buckle collar, and if you teach the dog using proper leash training techniques, this isn’t a tall order.
You don’t need a “training collar” if you actually train your dog!
But there are a couple of tricks that will help get you started on the right paw!
Here’s How To Avoid Leash Excitement And Reactivity:
Work on Obedience At Home
You can’t expect your dog to listen to you when you leave the house, if he can’t even listen to you IN your house!
People are sometimes under the grand delusion that most dog training happens while they are on a walk with their dog…
Nothing is further from the truth.
Dogs should learn their basic obedience in a fairly sterile and neutral (boring) environment like your home.
You wouldn’t take your child to Chuck E. Cheese’s or the amusement park and try and teach him math, would you?
Why then, do we expect to teach our dogs new commands or cues during the most exciting time of their day?
You will be so much better off with your training if you work on your dog obedience at home and give him the skills that he needs when you begin taking him outside.
Use Your Leash Inside
I know, it sounds crazy, right?
A leash is for taking your dog outside for walks.
The problem is, that is what most dogs think too!
People touch the leash and the over excitement and reactivity begins.
So, in some ways, you are setting your dog up for failure from the beginning.
It is like the doorbell usually equals people being at the door, so the dog goes crazy.
If we condition the dog that these exciting things don’t always equal “exciting things” they learn to better control their emotions and responses.
My dogs barely blink when I touch the leash.
Because I often put them on leash inside the house to tighten up their obedience.
I remember when I was younger, before I was a dog trainer, with my first dog. She would go berserk when I touched the leash… because I, like most people, only leashed her when I took her for a walk or did something exciting.
Then I spent the initial 10 minutes or more fighting her excitement level and overstimulation.
The more time I spent with my dogs on leash in the house (especially when I trained Service Dogs), the more I realized that they were desensitized to the “excitement” of the leash.
So, when I took them out, I didn’t have to spend that time dealing with an overexcited dog!
It is really amazing how easy it can be to just change the relationship you and your dog have with his leash, and how much easier it is to take him places when you don’t have to spend those first 10 minutes with a spastic dog!
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.