How to help your reactive dog

I know you struggle with your Reactive Dog… but have you ever considered how he feels?  How stressed and uncomfortable he is feeling?
I know when Blue became reactive, I did not consider his stress levels… I was too focused on my own.  
You know how it feels.
An off leash dog appears and you to feel sick in the stomach.  How can you get away or hide from that dog.  Your walks are now at the crack of dawn or even in the dark in a desperate attempt not to meet anyone.  Confrontations with owners are common… all because you can’t trust or control your dog in these situations.
Here is what I see. 50% of people believe the only way they can end reactive behaviour is if they desensitize the dog. Let’s face it… It’s tedious, time consuming and boring. As much fun as watching grass grow.
The other 50% must have watched the so called “dog whisperer”. Seeing him pop the leash on a prong collar… giving quick kicks to the dog… acting assertive and letting the dog know who is boss.
Some people try it!
The others cringe and decide that method is not for them… they stop taking their dog for walks. I totally get that.
Of these two methods, the first will do no harm. If you are patient enough, then go for it. In my experience, this approach gives mediocre results.
The second method you should avoid at all costs. It will destroy the relationship, you’ll have a dog that avoids you and shuts down… or you’ll have a more aggressive dog. Aggression brings out aggression.
If you can’t picture that… Think about the last time you had an altercation with someone. How did you react? Do you trust that person? Do you want to spend time together?
I’m pretty sure you would have a lot of negative things to say. Now imagine the two of you attached with a leash, and you can’t leave!
What a horrible situation to be in!
Luckily, these are not the only solutions.
With my 3 simple techniques, it’s easier, quicker and super effective.
Once you learn these, you will be heading out on your walk, full of “Confidence”. If you meet another dog, you will happily use those opportunities to build your dogs Confidence and Trust… arriving home with a big smile on your face and a very happy dog.
This is my story of living with Blue, my much loved Australian Koolie.  I did my best to manage his reactive behaviour for way too many years…  and will always regret that.  Years of me feeling worried and stressed… but worse than that… years of him feeling worried and stressed!  All because I ‘chose’ to manage and prevent the behaviour… instead of ‘choosing’ to build his Confidence and Trust.
This is what we went through, how bad it got… and how easy and effective my solution was.  It’s a good news story with a surprising ending!

Stop trying to control your dog…  Do this instead.  Alter his Emotional Response… Build his Confidence and Trust.  “3-simple techniques” is all you need to succeed.  Click the button below.

12 thoughts on “How to help your reactive dog”

  1. Hi Patricia I have a 6 mth old red Merle Koolie x Mini Poodle he is over the top excited when he sees other dogs or people and is a pain to walk ….have been doing obedience classes for the past six weeks and he is really clever little dog BUT not when out and about ……..he was a rehome the women that purchased him at 8 weeks had a 6 yr old Collie and twin 4 yr old kids and the Collie was attacking him … she advertised him and I got him at 12 weeks ……he seemed like a really chilled little pup but once he had all his needles and I got him out and about he just became a pain to walk so take him when no one is about or to secluded areas of you think your training will work for him as we intend to travel with him but not until I can get him over this
    Cheers Margaret

    1. Patricia Brewer

      Oh my goodness Margaret. As you can see Blue was a Koolie and he grew up with our mini poodle Suzie. You have both of them rolled into one, an interesting mix 🙂 To answer your question… Yes the Focus on Fun Pathway has all you need to be successful and I would enjoy helping you. Your pup has learned to behave this way because of being attacked. He is unable to cope right now, but you can easily show him another way to behave and head off and enjoy your holidays. Buddy was also extremely excitable and hard to control. Last June we went to Moonee Beach for 2 months. He was 12 months old. It was his first experience in that atmosphere. Each time I took him out for a walk, I played the reactive dog game and by day five of the holiday I was having trouble convincing people he could be over excitable. Having access to so many people, and so many dogs, allowed me to achieve great results quickly. I left for that holiday feeling apprehensive. I did not want Buddy to spoil our holiday and although I did not let on, I was concerned whether he would cope. On the way home, I purchased a puppy! That is how much progress Buddy made in two months 🙂

  2. Hi Patricia
    I have two Koolies x kelpie they are father and son. We have had to move from the country to Sydney. The father is an ex work dog and almost perfect. His son Boots has just turned two is 3/4 keplie and 1/4 Koolie. Looks very much like you dog Blue. Boots was the only one in his litter. There were 6 other dogs on the farm. As far as I know there were never any incidences between them all. Boots was mr poplular , was great with the litter of pups we had. Boots did not work so i took him to town to the dog park. Boots was also Mr popular there. One of the workers did have a dog and Boots was reactive to this dog. We had to move to Sydney, the dogs ran and swam for 1 1/2 hours a day. Everything was great. I thought they had adjusted very well. However bit by bit Boots became more and more reactive. At first to particular dogs and now I cannot predict which dogs and it does not always happen. Will is fine . THere is also now some reactiveness between Will (father ) and son. Boots will start snarling and carrying on for no apparent reason. This seems to go in cycles. I do respect the heirarchy. Both Will and Boots are very obedient. I will say though Boots tends to focus often on Will and the ball and not always me first Any way as you know what it is like. I am hoping your videos work as I cannot continue like this

    1. Patricia Brewer

      It sounds like there are a few areas to work on with Boots. Once he has more focus for you and less for Will, life will become a lot easier. He want’s to control everything and now it is time for him to choose to ask permission from you as well as alter his emotional response. I look forward to helping you in the Pathway.

  3. My dog lily will bark at some dogs and not others. Lily is 11years old.Back in nov last year my daughter bought a blue heeler pup. Because the pup was always in in lilys face lily has started to bark at the puppy. Was i wrong in allowing the puppy to be in lilys face? Also the puppy s male, lily is female and before that lily use to have panda a 7 year old blue heeler which they got on very well until my daughter moved out and took panda to live will her and her partner because panda belong to my daughter.

    1. Patricia Brewer

      It seems Lilly felt the need to bark to keep the pup away. If it was effective in achieving that, then it would explain why she barks at some dogs rather than others. It is a learned behaviour. It is possible to teach a new learned behaviour when she feels this way.

  4. Hi Patricia. We have a 9 year old Koolie /Aussie shepherd who has been anxious all his life. Not reactive with other dogs but people so we have had times when we thought we would have to get rid of him when he has nipped people. We are always worried when people come to the property, as we have no fencing ,as we never know how he will react. Generally he’s ok if people use his name but he is very protective of us. Do you think building his confidence would work in this situation as I’m sure he picks up on our stress and reacts to that also.
    I’ve been looking at your program for a new 10 month old rescue cavalier/ springer spaniel pup we have just brought home but this really resonated with me.

    1. Short answer is… Yes this type of training will alter your dog’s emotional response to people. I don’t see the behaviour as being protective of you as much as being nervous around people. Being reactive achieves his goal of keeping people away. Just as you feel stressed, your dog is equally stressed, perhaps more so. The day you decide to be proactive and show him a different way to behave in these situations, is the day he will become a happier more confident dog.

  5. My dog missy is a long haired Koolie, 1 year 5 months old. She is a beautiful dog with energy and personality +++. I got her when she was about 4-5 months old. When she was a puppy she was scared by a bigger and excitable lab pup on the lead, and then my room mate got a jack Russell who would “play” with missy by biting and latching on, so missy learned to be aggressive to the little Jack Russell stop that from happening. (The Jack Russell is no longer with us).
    Now when she meets dogs she is growly and occasionally starts fights with lots of growling and lunging, however to my knowledge she has never hurt another dog. After these fights, missy is ok with the dog and (depending on how the other dog feels about it) can play with them shortly after with no worries. However I’m not sure what to do because I don’t want to reward her for this behaviour by doing nothing, I feel so embarrassed and I don’t want this to continue.
    She’s also very reactive to cars going past when we’re driving and she’s on the back of the Ute. I feel it’s like a sensory overload thing because she’s ok with passing one or two cars, but 2+ cars in quick succession she goes nuts. If she’s off leash on the farm, she also likes to have cars “follow her” I.e. will try to always run in front of cars, which is a worry.

    1. Patricia Brewer

      Hi Bernadette, It is great to hear you do not want this behaviour to continue. As you say, your dog has learned how to behave this way. It is a learned response rather than a personality trait that she was born with. She can change and will if you show her a different way to respond. Other dogs are a worry for her and she is feeling stressed, hence the reaction that has learned works in keeping dogs away. It’s time to alter her emotional response so that she can experience what ‘Calm’ feels like. I can promise you this… You will be happier and she will be happier. You do need to be motivated, but the Focus on Fun Pathway shows you exactly how to go about it. In the meantime, you must prevent all rehearsals of this behaviour… That is step one 🙂

  6. My 2yr Chihuahua is reacting to everything and everyone. He has always been a bit reactive but I have managed to stop it by look at me. But no longer worked coz he’s doing it all the time

    1. When you ask your dog to ‘Look At You’, you are giving a directive and hoping your dog will comply in the face of a huge distraction. Rather than doing that, it is much more effective to use an holistic approach with Reactive Dogs. The aim is that your dog sees what concerns him, and he chooses to interact with you completely ignoring the problem. I do not recommend relying on one solution but rather having a toolbox that contains a number of solutions depending on the situation you find yourself in. For instance, many dogs can cope quite well if you add a lot of distance, but that is not always possible. You must have solutions that work when you find you can’t add distance. If you would like help with all this, please check out the Focus on Fun Pathway. It offers the toolbox of solutions that you are looking for with no missing links in your knowledge or training to ensure your success.

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