Reactive Dog Training – The Complete Guide

Aaron Rice Expert Dog Trainer
Written: January 17, 2022

Having a reactive dog can be a handful, depending on their degree of reactivity and aggression, even dangerous. Getting these behavior issues under control is not only wise but necessary. To illustrate what I mean,  I’ll tell you the story of Kathy, one of my dearest clients, and Lolla, her German Shepard.

Kathy, a 31-year-old accountant, was living by herself in a lovely house at that time. And although life was good to her, she felt lonely. So one day, she decided to take a trip to the dog shelter and rescue a lucky dog.

She set her eyes on a 3-year-old German Shepard, and she knew she had found the one. She just could resist those perky ears, that long, dark snout, and deep brown eyes. Kathy didn’t know much about German Shepherds, so she was unaware of their high activity levels, but soon she would find out.

On that same day, Kathy, excited to take Lolla on her first walk, grabs a flat collar and leash and puts them on Lolla. Things were fine so far, but after Lolla felt the first tug from the leash, she went completely bonkers.

Kathy didn’t know dogs could squirm and twist the way Lolla did. Completely taken aback by the situation, Kathy let go of the leash. Shortly after, Lolla started chewing on it; she was out of control, but Kathy was determined to take her on her first walk, so she took the leash out of Lolla’s mouth and dragged her outside, and as if by magic, Lolla became quiet and docile. 

However, Kathy’s nightmare had just begun.

They walked calmly to the park. Luckily for them, there were no dogs on the way. It was a dream walk. At the park, Kathy sits on a beach and smiles as Lolla sits by her side. In the distance, Kathy sees an old lady and her Basset Hound walking towards them. Lolla sees them too and waits until they pass by to bark her lungs out at the dog.

Kathy holds tightly onto the leash, but Lolla is strong, stronger than she thought. She tries telling her to calm down and pulls back on the leash with all she’s got, but Lolla doesn’t listen. Shortly after, Lolla pulls so hard that the leash slips out of Kathy’s hands, and just as she thought, Lolla runs after the old lady and the dog. 

Seconds after, in what became a heated scuffle between the two dogs, Lolla relentlessly attacked the Basset Hound. And although Kathy split them up before things got ugly, the dog got mildly wounded by Lolla.

Needless to say, Kathy was beyond embarrassed, and of course, she paid for all the medical expenses of the old lady’s dog. That’s when she decided to reach out to me for help. 

I’m happy to say  Lolla is completely reformed from her old ways now. She is actually one of my most obedient and well-behaved clients. And although it took some hard work to get her to where she is, her relationship with Kathy is stronger than ever. 

If you’re wondering how to get your reactive dog into its best-behaved versionjust like Lollayou’re in the right place. In this guide, we’ll get deep into the different ways to treat and revert your dog’s reactive behavior and make you a proud dog owner. Let’s start with the basic:

What Is a Reactive Dog?

A reactive dog exhibits strongly emotional and impulsive behavior when being in contact with certain stimuli or triggers. These triggers range from something as slight as a squirrel dashing across the back yardor simply having a leash onto something as threatening as a strange, aggressive dog barking and lunging at them.

Reactivity in a dog is difficult to control but possible to treat. And unlike what many believe, most dogs do not simply grow out of it. It’s an issue that requires effort and many hours of training. Luckily, in most cases, it only takes a few weeks to see tangible results.

However, their progress will vary depending on various factors like the age and breed of your dog, the root cause of their reactivity, and their personality. 

More often than not, reactivity tends to be mistaken for aggression, which is not always the case. Reactive behavior usually has its root in fear-related factors; it originates from the lack of confidence that a dog might have in dealing with a new stimulus that they have not experienced yet.

Take a two-year-old dog who has been confined to a backyard all his lifewith little to no interaction with other animals or humansWhen being exposed to a strange dog or person for the first time, they are very likely to feel frightened and react aggressively.

Other times, it might just be a dog with overflowing energy or hyperactivitycommon in breeds like German Shepherds and Dalmatiansthat is eager to interact with other dogs or people or is simply in need of some playtime. 

These hyperactive dogs are likely to exhibit some reactive behaviors such as barking, lunging, and leash-reactivity in the presence of other dogs because they’re just eager to play and interact with others.

You must be aware of the common causes of reactive behavior in dogs as it will help you understand your dog better and find a proper way to deal with their reactivity. 

Here are the main four:

Poor or Lack of Socialization Early In Life

Puppies, very much like children and toddlers, expand their knowledge, get to know the world, and shape their conception of it during the early stages of their life. Puppies that either spend long periods in isolation from other animals and people or lack required amounts of exposure are likely to end up having a distorted and inaccurate perception of reality.

Exposing pups early in life to all kinds of dogs and people desensitizes and helps them build confidence when interacting with strangers. Socialization tends to become more complicated when dogs have already reached 16 weeks of age. Hence the importance of socializing them while they are young.

Too Much Off-Leash Time

Dogs react to being put on a leash simply because they are not used to it. Very often, dogs are kept in enclosed, isolated spaces with no leash and little constraints to their behavior. When forced to be on a leashafter long periods of uncontrolled freedomtheir owners expect their dogs to behave, which is rarely the case. 

Reactive dogs are unpredictable and having them behave while being on a leash not only ensures others’ safety but makes your dog less likely to suffer a traumatic experience that worsens their behavior. More on leash training later.

Excessive Territoriality

Dogs are territorial animals, no surprise there. You might not know that the way you allow your dog to behave at home greatly influences their behavior when going outside. Let me explain.

If your dog barks frantically at the slightest sound, and you allow it because you believe it’s common dog behavior, you are subconsciously telling your dog it’s ok to bark at anything. 

Dogs that spend a long time in backyards, unsupervised, are exposed to a variety of stimulating factorssuch as other animals and people passing byand are likely to develop overprotective and reactive behaviors that will likely extend to places that they frequently visitlike parks, streets, and even entire neighborhoods.

To prevent this from happening, it’s essential to supervise our dogs’ behavior when left alone, especially outside, and correct undesired behavior on the spot before it escalates into a reactivity issue.

Traumatic Experiences

Again, in very much the same way as children, puppies are psychologically susceptible to developing traumas when suffering a traumatic event during their first sixteen weeks of agefor instance, by being attacked by another dog. After going through such experiences, a dog might work up a strong aversion to dogs of a specific breed or size or even the place where the traumatic event happened.

Of course, traumatic experiences are not limited to attacks from other animals. Sadly, many dogs are abused one way or another by their owners; in such instances, dogs are prone to developing excessive fear and anxiety of being approached by humanswhich sometimes escalates into aggressive behavior.

The most common symptoms of reactivity include:

  • Barking, howling and snarling
  • Pacing
  • Lunging
  • Tense body language
  • Intense stare
  • Nipping
  • Scratching
  • Hiding
  • Leash-reactivity
  • Urination
  • Bared teeth

Why and How You Should Muzzle-Train Your Dog

Having a reactive dog makes for stressful walks outside. It also means having your dog bark at the slightest sight of other animalsand oh boy, they can put up a show sometimes. 

Reactivity does not always translate into aggression. Depending on the dog’s personality and breed, they’ll sometimes be just curious and anxious to interact with other dogs. However, there are reactive-aggressive dogs that can definitely pose a danger to other dogs and people.

Most of the reactive training needs to be done in open environments, where the dog is exposed to different kinds of settings and distractions. The main principle of reactivity training is desensitizing your dog to the myriad of stimuli they get when going outside. During this process, we must make things as safe as possible for everyone. Therefore the need for a muzzle.

But how do you train your dog to peacefully wear a muzzle without throwing a furious fit?

A great tip for teaching your dog intricate concepts such as wearing a muzzle is getting the excess energy out of them before the training session. Playing catch for about 10-15 minutes will do the job.

I recommend using a basket muzzle; they’re roomy, light, and comfortable. And unlike most strap muzzles, they don’t press on your dog’s snout. This helps them get into muzzle training with more ease since the initial experience is not so imposing and intimidating.

The first thing you want to do is take your dog to a distraction-free spaceperhaps your living roomwith no other animals around. Your job now will be to prime them into the right mindset around the muzzle. To do that, sit on the floor next to your dog, keeping a bag of treats handy, and lie the muzzle on the floor next to your furry friend.

Let your dog acknowledge, sniff, and get familiar with it. Right after that, reward your dog with a treat. What you will be doing is helping your dog associate the muzzle with a positive stimulus. By creating a positive atmosphere around the muzzle, you lower their levels of stress and get them peppy and excited; that’s the mindset that you’re looking for.

Move the muzzle around your dog a few times to get their attention on the muzzle. When they stop whatever they are doing to look at the muzzle or even mildly play with it, reward them with enthusiasm.

Reactive dogs tend to snap when having a muzzle put onto their snout for the first time; we want to avoid that and teach them it is fun to have it on. So grab the muzzle and hold it in the air in front of your dog, with the open end pointing at your dog’s snout, just as if you were about to put it on them.

Now hold a treat on the closed end of the muzzle and lure your dog to get it. This way, your dog will associate getting their snout into the muzzle with a positive experience. Don’t forget to motivate proper behavior with positive voice markers like “yes!” or “good job!” Dogs like to be encouraged. Repeat this process a few times.

Now the tricky part, strapping the muzzle onto your dog. Don’t worry; it doesn’t need to be hard; just follow my lead, and you won’t even break a sweat. 

Take it step by step. Test your dog’s first reaction to having the muzzle strapped onto them by pretending to put it on and letting it fall. If you notice no negative response to that, immediately give them a treat. 

And now, the litmus test. Try gently putting the muzzle onto your pup. If they show no signs of discomfort or reactivity, reward them on the spot cheerfully. However, if your dog reacts negatively to it, take it off at once, give them a rest, and repeat the previous steps later when they are calm again.

After you finally get them on a muzzle, try doing different activities with your dog. Take a walk around the house, go out to the backyard and have them enjoy some fresh air. And if you feel ready, take them on a walk around the block. 

However, If you’re not ready for an on-leash walk, you’ll need to continue with the training.

How to Leash-Train Your Dog

Leash-reactivity is hands down the most common issue with reactive dogs. It’s impossible to take your dog out peacefully if they act up against having a leash on. You need to get them used to it.

If your breed is small enough to reliably control them on a leash or simply not aggressive, you won’t need to put them on a muzzle before going out. But if you have the slightest fear of your dog lunging and letting loose from the leash, absolutely use a muzzle; it’s safer for everyone that way.

Now put your dog on a leash, give it a few warps on your hand or your wrist to secure it tightly, and take your dog out to the front of your house. You want to start training them in a familiar environment. When dogs are put in new, distractive places, they’ll focus on taking in the new setting and adapting to itmaking them less likely to pay attention to you during the training.

So get to your front lawn or sidewalk, and start pacing your dog back and forth from one extreme of your house to the other. You want to look for signs of compliance, so when you make a turn, and you see that your dog follows nicely, reward them with a treat. If your dog knows “sit,” make them do it randomly; again, when they comply, make sure to reward them.

A sign of compliance can be as slight as looking at you. You must manage to get your dogs’ attention in highly distracting places; they need to know who is in charge at all times. So call out their name and direct their eyes to your face often; give them a treat when they do. 

When your dog starts getting the hang of it, you can start thinking about going for a walk down the block. During your walk, your canine pal will be exposed to various stimuli: cars, motorcycles, dogs, cats, squirrels, and people. 

Remember, watch out for signs of compliance, so when something calls your dog’s attention, try to bring it back on you. Call out their name, clap, whistle, or snap your fingers; when you manage to drive their attention from the distractor, you know what to do.

There will come a time when the distraction is too mesmerizing to your dogsay a meowing catand it will be impossible for you to get their attention. In those cases, you’ll need to take a few steps back to where you came from and randomly test their compliance. Repeat this process until you find your dog’s point of compliance. When you do, let them know they’ve done a good job.

Finding your pup’s point of compliance is important because it allows you to know the minimum distance at which they will willingly divert their attention from a distractor towards you. That’s the behavior that we want.

Now it’s time to reverse-engineer things a little. Take a few steps towards the distractor and test your dog’s compliance rewarding good behavior along the way. Sometimes, you’ll have to give it up and go on your way because the distraction might be too much for your dog. It doesn’t need to be perfect on the first go.

The Right Attitude: How to Stay In Charge At All Times

Keeping the right attitude while training your dog or simply walking them on a leash is absolutely paramount. It’s not like you have to be super energetic all the time and sprint around to keep your dog happycause that might actually get them over-excited and distractedBut you don’t want to bore them out with a meek and overly passive attitude.

There is nothing passive about training a dog.

Especially during training, staying peppy and energeticwith a pinch of authoritywill signal to your dog who is calling the shots. Passive dog owners are often dragged around by their dogs because they subconsciously tell their pets, “Where should we go now? You choose.”

Even though you’re having a rough day, and you simply don’t have it in you, you’ll need to reach in deep and bring that attitude out of you. It works in dog training and lifethat’s good advice, isn’t it?

When I say ‘the right attitude,’ I’m talking about an upright posture, a firm stride, and a loud enough tone of voice. If your dog wants to go on their own way, let them know that’s not what they should be doing, and use an appropriate voice marker like “uh-uh,” or “heel.” Give them a gentle tug on their leash if necessary.

Don’t get me wrong; this doesn’t mean that you should expect your canine pal to behave with military-like obedience and precision the second you utter a command. Some situations will call for the most understanding you, and it’ll be best just to let them be. 

Even more so if your dog is in its early training days. At times, it’ll be necessary that you gather all the patience and love possible before each training session. In case that’s not possible for you on certain dayseither because you’re grumpier than usual, or you feel like you want to just take it out on someone—take a break, and try again later, or simply put off training for another day. 

Getting Your Reactive Dog to Behave Off-Leash. Is It Possible?

Having your dog listen to you while being off-leash is the ultimate fantasy of reactive dog owners. And I know it might seem like a nieve dream to wish your reactive pup to behave with no leash onparticularly in highly distracting environmentsbut luckily, I’m here to tell you it can be done.

I’ve got to warn you, though, you can’t expect to start with off-leash training if your dog hasn’t completely mastered the basics like sit, come, stay, and on-leash training. 

Even the basic stuff takes time, and although it might be a little too early for your and your canine friend to jump into off-leash training, learning about its principles can give an idea or two of how to bump up the level of difficulty of basic training and teach your dog a couple of new skills.

Have Your Dog Experience a Variety of Environments

One of the main factors that throw off and confuse dogs during training is being placed in a new environment. New smells, weather conditions, surroundings, animals, and people highly stimulate your dog and make them excited and even anxious. This significantly reduces the chances that your dog will listen to you. However, it’s imperative to off-leash training.

Having no lead on your dog carries many risks to others and your dog. And generally speaking, dogs can’t be trusted to make a wise decision all the time. So we must desensitize them to the widest variety of environments possible. That way, they’ll become more reliable.

Use a Long Lead on Your Dog

Having a long lead or leash is absolutely necessary for off-leash training. Many dog owners make the mistake of taking the lead off their dogs just because they are in a safe environment. And this is less than advisable for a couple of reasons:

First, you need to be in control of your dog at all times. If they suddenly bolt after an animal or someone walking by, you’ll have little power to get them to listen to you and come back. So you will probably end up chasing them aroundnot the best idea.

Second, off-leash training requires you to teach your dog a series of short-distance skills in which you can’t expect them to obey right away. So keeping them on a leash is the best way to keep things on track and moving forward.

I’d recommend getting a 30-50 ft long leash. When you are in big open spaces, you’ll need a long enough line to do recall exercises without worrying about your dog escaping from you. At the same time, it allows your dog enough freedom to move around and get used to the feeling of being off-leashwhile staying under your supervision.

Don’t even think about starting off-leash training without getting a long lead first.

Going Back to The Basics

I’ll repeat this; it’s downright pointless to expect your dog to do well with off-leash training if they haven’t crushed the basics yet. Keep that in mind.

In your chosen, moderately distracting, open space, put your dog on a harness (preferably), attach the leash onto it, and leave it on the ground next to you. What you need to do is go over the most basic commands to test your dog’s attention and compliance in these new surroundings. 

Have your dog sit, roll, over, stay, and come; reward on the spot. If your dog gets distracted by anything, get their attention back, and move them away from the distraction if necessary. 

Up the Level of Difficulty

Now that you know your dog is listening to you in a new environment when trying basic tricks or commands, you need to make things a little harder.

Being in a new environment is an anxiety trigger for your dog. They might feel like running off and exploring all the goodies of this new place, or the opposite might occur. Your dog could become fearful and anxious and start following you around wherever you go. Either way, you want to desensitize them to this new setting and make them listen to you no matter what.

Practice long-distance stay with your dog; start with short distances first. When they manage to keep their ‘stay,’ give them a yummy treat; it’s as simple as that. They are likely to break their stay when you go far, though, so you might need to go back a few steps and repeat the process until your dog keeps that long-distance stay nicely.

The goal of off-leash training is to have your dog listen to you no matter what or how many distractions are around. And a powerful way to introduce a new distraction to your dog is a technique I like to call ‘surprise fetch.’

You will need to find a toy your dog is really curious aboutsay, a rope toy, ball, frisbee, or chew stick. Have your dog calmly sit; now grab the toy and throw it at a short distance. It’s essential that before this, you don’t tease your dog with the toy; you don’t want them to be over-excited about it. 

Now the surprise factor. Instead of having your dog engage with the toy or fetch it, you want them to come to you. So right after throwing the toy, practice a recall. 

In the early stage of this training, you need to be extra peppy and cheerful. It is complicated for a dog to resist their urges of playing with something they likeespecially when it’s been thrown away from them. But that’s precisely what you’re looking for, that resistance and obedience.

Sometimes, it will be challenging to get your dog to come, but if you see the slightest sign of resistance, reward them for it. You’ll get them to come later.

By the time you can do flawless recalls after tossing the toy away, you can start throwing it at longer distances. This is a great way to teach your dog to listen to you while resisting the urge to give in to sudden distractions.

Should You Use a Shock Collar?

E-collar or shock collars can be an effective medium of communication between a dog and its owner. The shock, vibration, or sound that these collars produce a signal to dogs that they’re doing something they’re not supposed to or need to comply immediately with a command just given by their owner.

When used correctly, shock collars can make dogs respond quickly to commands, especially when being off-leash in open spaces. It’s an excellent way to control dogs’ behavior at long distances where the sound of the owners’ voice is not enough to reach their dog’s ears.

However, in the wrong hands, they can be potentially harmful to a dog’s mental wellbeing and produce further behavior issues. It’s essential that, if you’re considering using a shock collar on your dog, you get informed on how to use it properly first.

You will find out that opinions on shock collars are markedly divided. Some say they’re effective and essential tools for dog training, and others argue that they’re inhuman and unnecessary. 

Whatever your choice is, keep this in mind, you don’t need a shock collar to make your dog listen to you. It’s just as possible to produce results in dog training with a shock collar as without. 

However, as I mentioned, they can be really useful when trying to control your dog in open, distraction-filled environments. So if this is something important to you, consider getting one.

First Steps Towards Socializing Your Dog

In simple terms, socializing is a process that consists of making something scary to your doglike meeting new dogs and peoplewell, not scary. And this is more complex than you might think.

Socializing a dog to other dogs is not simply arranging a playdate with a random dog, going to a random place, and having them run around at their own will.

Think of it this way, if someone made you go to an unfamiliar place and start hugging strangers and shaking their hands, you’d probably find the experience awkwardto say the least.

Well, dogs are much like us in that sense. Each dog has its own unique personality, preferences, tastes, and overall life experience. And when our dogs are reactive to other dogs or even skittish to interact with others, we should go about this the right way.

Also, socializing a reactive dog to others is more than desensitizing them to the stimulus of having a new dog around. It’s greatly about teaching them to listen to us while they’re exposed to new distractions. And few things can be as distracting as a new dog.

Follow these simple steps that I’ll break down to you, and you’ll give your dog stress-free, fruitful, and joyful playdates with their new canine pals.

Do a ‘Background Check’ on Your Dog’s Potential Playdate

Again, you don’t want to arrange a playdate with just any dog. The idea here is to increase the chances of a peaceful, fruitful meetup between your dog and their date.

So talk to the dog’s owners, and ask them if their dog has got all the vaccines and if they’ve experienced any behavior issues. You can’t risk your furry friend getting rabies, canine influenza, or parasites from an unvaccinated dog. 

It’s also necessary to reduce the risks of having a traumatic experience with an aggressive or reactive dog. So checking these two things off your lists is absolutely essential.

Pick a Dog That’s the Right Size for Yours

This is particularly important if you own a small breed. Small dogs can be intimidated by large dogs. And this is something easy to understand. Some dogs can be huge, strong, and intimidating, even to humans.

One of the purposes of socializing your dog is to help them build confidence around strange dogs. You want to avoid them from being rolled around and body-slammed by their playdateas this could shatter their confidence and make them even more reactive or reluctant to interact with others.

Choose a Neutral Meetup Place

As you know, dogs can be protective of the places they frequent. So they are more likely to be defensive or even aggressive in a place they feel is theirs and need to protect.

Choosing a neutral place for your dog’s playdate is also an opportunity to get used to a new environment and test their training in a distraction-filled setting.

Test Your Dogs’ Compliance Before Engaging Them With a New Dog

I often advise my clients not to have their reactive dogs engage with their playdates right away. Remember, you don’t just arrange a dog playdate for the sake of fun and play. You are trying to make your dog listen to you and behave regardless of what’s happening around them.

So, at the meetup spot, practice basic training exercises with your dog to get their focus on you regardless of any external stimuli. You can make this exercise even more powerful by having their playdate be nearby. They need to know they are being supervised and need to listen to you when required.

Use a Long Leash

Many dog owners make the mistake of meeting up with their playdates and letting their dogs run around and play off-leash. This is not only risky, but it also undermines your authority in the eyes of your dog. When you do this, you’re telling  them, “When you see other dogs, you can do whatever you want.” This is a huge no-no in dog training. 

So no matter how docile your dog or their playdate might be. Keeping them on a leash will help you stay in control. This is not to say that when meeting your dog’s playdate, you should keep them on a tight leash, barely allowing them to move.

Actually, this might be counterproductive.

Dogs tend to get amped-up when meeting new dogs, and having a tight leash on themapart from increasing their anxietymakes them display a defensive or slightly aggressive body language in the eyes of other dogs. This increases the chances of your dog’s playdate acting upon them. 

Dogs get to know each other by sniffing their new friends all over. They walk around, jump about, and bolt away to come back later. They need space and freedom for that. However, it’s vital to stay weary of any unwanted interaction. Keeping your dog on a long leash will undoubtedly serve both purposes.

Socializing Your Dog to People

Most people believe socialization only involves dogs, and this is far from true. Reactive dogs very often exhibit outbursts of behavior at new people, men in particular. If you’re wondering why, well, men are usually bigger, taller, more corpulent, have deeper voices, and overall more intimidating than women. So a reactive dog is much more likely to snap at men than women.

Having a dog that’s reactive to people is likely to cause some awkward and embarrassing situations when having people over. You don’t want to be ‘that person’ with an out-of-control beast in their house that they need to hide away or isolate when anyone comes over.

I’ve had friends tell me they’ve refrained from coming to my house because of my dog’s reactive behavior. And it’s understandable; you won’t feel as eager to visit someone when you know there’ll be an aggressive and protective dog around. 

So how do you go about socializing your reactive dog to new people?

It’s crucial that your dog has already undergone some training for a while because if your dog doesn’t listen to you at all, your chances of success will be very low. So make sure your dog understands the basics and listens to you in various environments.

Before your visitor arrives, it’s advisable to drain your dog’s excess energy out. This will make them less likely to be hyperactive and over-excited when having new people around. If you don’t have time for a visit to the park or a long walk around the block, play fetch with them in your backyard for a while. 

If your dog has the slightest tendency to get aggressive with other people or dogs, you should put them on a muzzle. And a leash is a must; you want to keep everyone’s safety as your priority.

Having your dog around a new person is a great opportunity to practice what they have learned during training and make sure they’ll listen to you while socialization occurs. I suggest you take your dog through the basics of training with the new person around. If your dog manages to keep it together while having a stranger around, that’s a good sign that things will go smoothly.

During the first contact with the new person, your dog should have a sense of control over the situation. This means that your dog should be the one to make the first move and approach the person.

Make sure to hold your dog on a loose leash, preferably, but not too much; stand next to them during the first contact. If your dog is particularly skittish and fearful of meeting new people, you could stand in front of them; this might help them feel safe and protected.

When your furry friend is confident enough, you can bet they’ll approach and start sniffing the human in front of them all over. Tell the other person to stand still without making any brusque or abrupt movements, as this might trigger your dog’s reactivity. 

Apply positive reinforcement principles; when your dog starts acting in a friendly way, reward them with a treat.  

If you want to take things to the next level, have the other person run some basic training commands on your dog. But only allow this when you are sure that your dog is not likely to get aggressive on your human fellow.

Ideally, your dog will behave and listen to the other person. Have them reward the slightest sign of compliance and good behavior from your canine friend with a treat they love. The idea is to help them associate this new stranger with a pleasant stimulus like getting something yummy.

A Final Word On Socialization

Socializing a dog can be a strenuous process, even more so when the dog in question has not been correctly socialized during the early stages of its life. 

To say that a dog is adequately desensitized to meeting new people and dogs, they’ll need to be socialized to a great number of people and animals in different environments. Consistency is key.

When Should You Look For Help?

Reactivity issues can get pretty intense. From uncontrollable leash-reactivity,  frantic barking, and restless lunging to raging aggression, it can be a little too much for many dog owners at times. Unfortunately, many turn to isolating their dogs and depriving them of all kinds of exposure, hoping to prevent an undesired situation from ever happening. 

Needless to say, this is not a viable solution.

If you find yourself out of time and patience to treat your dogs’ behavior issues with proper training, you need to get help from a professional dog trainer. As mentioned before, dogs do not grow out of their behavior issues, generally. Allowing them to act on their own will likely aggravate the situation rather than solving it. So if your goal is to turn your dog into a civil member of society, training is unarguably necessary.