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The Benefits of Training for Reactive Dogs

Updated: Jan 26

Training can be highly beneficial for reactive dogs, as it can help them better manage their responses to triggers and improve their overall behavior. Reactive dogs and puppies typically exhibit exaggerated responses to certain stimuli, such as other dogs, strangers, or loud noises, often displaying behaviors like barking, lunging, or growling. Here are several benefits of training for reactive dogs.

Dog training
Training your dog can help improve a reactive dog's confidence.

1. Improved Behavior: Dog training can help reactive dogs learn alternative, more appropriate behaviors when faced with triggers. Through positive reinforcement training, dogs can be taught to focus on their owners, remain calm, and exhibit behaviors that are incompatible with reactivity. It is highly important that the owners are educated in being able to read their dogs bodily behavior which leads up to the reactivity before their dogs become reactive. It is not an average dog trainer that can help owners achieve this. Owners must seek Master Dog Trainers and/or Animal Behaviorists that have extensive hands-on experience with reactive dogs. This is not learned from books or YouTube videos.


2. Reduced Stress: Reactive dogs often experience stress and anxiety when confronted with triggers. Training can help them learn coping mechanisms and reduce their stress levels, leading to a better quality of life. Many dogs with anxiety need medicinal intervention to help them better manage their anxiety that can be a result of genetically weak nerves and/or trauma. We have seen tremendous progress and results with the SSRI Fluoxetine (Prozac), but only if the dosage is the appropriate dosage. All too often veterinarians under prescribe with 1mg per kilogram of bodyweight. Based upon extensive research and studies, 2mg per kilo of bodyweight produces significant results in helping reactive dogs where their reactivity is based upon fear.


3. Enhanced Safety: Specialized puppy training and dog training can make reactive dogs easier to manage and keep them and others safe. By teaching them to respond to cues and commands, owners can prevent potentially dangerous situations and improve their control over their dogs in various environments.


4. Strengthened Bond: Dog training provides an opportunity for owners to strengthen their bond with their reactive dogs. Working together on training exercises can enhance communication, trust, and understanding between the dog and its owner. The bond between canines and their pack leader is tantamount. The pack leader is always the human. If you have owned your dog since it was a young puppy, your dog knows your breathing patterns, your facial expressions, and your body language better than you can even imagine. Through a strong bond comes trust, hence, a better relationship whereupon your dog will rely upon your guidance and dominant authoritative commands. You have to speak like a pack leader. All too often people will execute the command of sit, and it's in a tone of voice that sounds like a question. And that results in multiple commands without the dog executing a sit. The first command to sit should be firm. The second command to sit should be elongated in its sound, and deepened in your tone of voice. If you are not going to be a pack leader, you shouldn't have a dog. A good dog trainer can be the pack leader, but if the owner doesn't follow through with how the dog was trained, it's all for naught. It's wasted money thrown into the wind.


5. Increased Confidence: Training your dog can help improve a reactive dog's confidence, as they learn to cope with triggers in a more positive and controlled manner. This can lead to a more relaxed and less reactive state of mind. There are confidence building exercises that you can do with your dog.


6. Better Socialization: Through dog training, reactive dogs can learn how to interact with other dogs and people in a more positive and controlled manner. This can help improve their social skills and reduce their reactivity in various social situations. This does not mean that throwing your dog into a dog park (gladiator arena) is socialization. Such can be equated to, “throwing him/her to the wolves”. Dogs can sense the sensitivity of other dogs and can take advantage of that weakness. Controlled and supervised socialization with dogs that you deem are safe is your best bet.

7. Management of Triggers: Training can help owners identify and manage their dog's triggers more effectively. By understanding their dog's behavior and implementing appropriate training techniques, owners can help their dogs learn to cope with triggering stimuli.


It's important to note that working with a professional dog trainer or behaviorist who has experience with reactive dogs is highly recommended. They can provide tailored guidance and support to address the specific needs of each dog and help owners navigate the training process effectively.

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