Wouldn’t it be nice if, instead of barking at other dogs, your reactive dog would turn and move away with you? In this post we’re putting all of the “Let’s go!” training for reactive dogs together in one place.
First, we built the behavior in the house and the backyard, without any extra distractions. We didn’t use the leash at first, so you could focus on one important detail: Saying the cue “Let’s go,” BEFORE you turned to move in the other direction.
Next, we added food or toy distractions in the backyard. You asked your dog to move away from those temptations on cue. Here you focused on another very important detail: Keeping the leash loose, so that your dog practiced coming with you without you having to pull him.
In Part 3, you moved outside onto the front yard or sidewalk. You continued to practice keeping the leash loose, in a setting where both you and your dog were probably a little bit nervous!
Finally, we showed you how to start work around other dogs. To minimize stress for you and your pup, we recommended working right outside of your front door at first. That way you can run inside if a dog is approaching. If you are able to practice with friends who have dogs, this can be really handy! Ask them to walk by a few blocks away, and slowly come closer only if your dog is ready.
How do you know when your dog is ready to move closer to other dogs, and when he needs more distance? Review this video showing what to look for when making these decisions.
If you don’t have friends with dogs who can help, that’s ok. Practice opportunistically when dogs pass by.
One final note: Don’t expect perfection from yourself or your dog. You will have bad days, and sometimes dogs will appear and be much closer than your dog can handle. Just do your best to get out of these situations, and get back to your training when your dog has calmed down.