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  • Gemma Johnston

My Dog Is Dog Reactive And/Or Pulls On Leash, Help Me?

Updated: Jul 7, 2022

I can 100% help you with this! I work on these types of issues, on a daily basis with many pet dogs.

Why You Are Having These Issues:


· Frustration

· Fear


· Excitement

· Nervousness

· Has not been taught to walk on a lose lead PROPERLEY

Let’s take a closer look at these two points:

Frustration Leash Reactivity & Pulling

There are many subcomponents I could break this one into but they really all intertwine. I will dot point “Situations” that cause frustration reactivity & leash pulling

· OVER SOCIALISING your puppy or dog by letting them greet every dog that passed by & letting them play at the dog park frequently. Building a desire to play or greet dogs every time they see one as YOU have made this a habit. Now that you DON’T want them to greet another dog, they become frustrated.

· You may not of Over Socialised your dog, but they are just naturally excited to see everything & anything. They pull on the leash increasing frustration.

· Your dog has natural & genetically high energy &/or frustration levels, which makes them more inclined to pull on the leash

· Opposition Reflex! The dog pulling on the leash in the first place increases frustration, as it can not get to what it desires. The owner then tries to pull them back, increasing opposition reflex, making your dog pull more!

· Owners making the mistake trying to hold their dog back from pulling but then give in & let the dog get to what is desires. Teaching the dog, if I just keep pulling for hard & long enough, my owners will give in & ill get what I want

· After your dog has been pulling for so long, it will begin to vocalise its frustration with whining or barking. This can scare some owners, as they are concerned their dog might be becoming aggressive! So, the owner pulls back & away more, increasing frustration again. Or the owner is embarrassed by their dog’s behaviour, so they pull them away to leave. Increasing frustration!

· This can then actually turn into reactivity/aggression for some dogs!! Think about it, if you were frustrated for such a long time, every time you were presented with the same situation, how might you feel? Angry perhaps?

· The owner’s behaviour & actions can then teach the dog to be reactive/aggressive. As the dog picks up your scared! So, they think there is something to be scared of!

· Or they begin to have other dogs have a go at them & they feel insecure about being attached to a leash to a human that is scared & has NO IDEA what they are doing!! Read more on fear reactivity to gain more insight to this dot point



· Learned behaviours

· Weak nerved

Let’s take a closer look at these two points:

Learned Behaviours

· Taking off from the last dot point above. You have taught your dog to become reactive through your behaviour & actions! You have made your dog fearful that YOU do not have control of the situation so it MUST take things into its own hands to ensure its safety!

· You have taught your dog through your actions & behaviour that they need to be concerned about other dogs. Due to letting your dog react & having multiple occasions where dogs have reacted back or ran up to attack

· You have let your puppy or dog play with too many dogs. Resulting in other dogs pinning them to the ground, standing over top of them, chasing them when it wasn’t warranted or attacking them. You have not stepped in to stop this, because you thought “they were just playing” or “They will sort it out themselves” or “My dog needs to be submissive”. Now your dog feels it needs to defend itself by attacking first! NO dog should have to put up with being “dominated” or rolled, as you are asking for it, having behaviour problems!! Teaching your dog, they cannot trust dogs or YOU!

· You have let your puppy or dog greet every dog on its walk & have had multiple occasions where you have let it greet the WRONG dogs. Now it is concerned every time it passes a dog “will this dog attack me? If I attack first, I’ll be safe, as my owner does not advocate for me”. Really your dog shouldn’t be greeting strange dogs is passes by on the street, that’s just plain stupid to do! Again, you are asking for problems if you do this

You may want to read our Blog – Is Your Dog Aggressive at the Dog Park & Beaches



· While how you raise a dog is important, genetics out weight this massively! You could have a genetically weak nerved dog, that makes it prone to being fearful of many things. No matter how small or “Silly” these things may be

You will want to read out Blog – My Dog Is Nervous/Timid, Can you help?

· To protect itself from other scary dogs, your dog may lash out first in the hopes the scary dog will leave them alone & give them space

· If your dog is genetically weak nerved, they may appear to pull on the leash due to being distracted but in reality they are pulling due to being fearful of its environment & not knowing what to do


Let’s take a closer look at Pulling On Leash with NO REACTIVITY:

As much as we don’t want to hear it, dogs are very selfish animals. (Yeah, sorry, all those things on Google that you read about dogs or your breed being loyal is a bunch of lies)

Dogs only do things to benefit themselves & better their current situation. Whatever that may be.

This is why your dog isn’t listening to your commands & continues to pull on leash. It simply has much better & more interesting things to do than listen to you or do as its told.

The dog may listen for a short time when you bring tasty cheese & treats with you. Or at the end of the walk when its tired it will no longer pull. This is due to having nothing better to do than to walk with you when they are tired or for a temporary desire of the cheese until something better comes along.

So How Can We Help You To Fix This?

We need to make it in your dog’s best interest to listen to you & follow instructions, rather than pulling on the leash & being reactive. While still being happy & enthusiastic about it!

The added extra for dogs who are fearful or weak nerved, is to add in a whole lot of desensitization training & allow them to feel safe.

We can help you to do this with our modern training methods - Operant Conditioning

You will learn:

· How to make it in your dog’s best interest to listen to you & not pull

· The phycology behind how your dog ACTUALLY thinks

· How to CORRECTLY desensitize & habituate your dog

· Triangle Of Needs - where you will learn about your dog’s fear & safety

· How to use your leash correctly

· What your dog values & how to use their values to your advantage

· How to teach your dog rock solid obedience & manners foundations

· How to build on those foundations with distance, distractions (Dogs & other), duration & location

Its Not Just The Dog, It’s You Too!

Not only do we have to train the dog, but we also must train the owner to know what to do, how to do it & when to do it.

In Private Lessons or Group Classes

The owner’s behaviour & habits impacts the dog & it’s training. If the owner is doing things incorrectly the dog will become confused, stressed, learn at a slow pace or even not at all. Meaning you will continue to get pulling & reactive behaviour.

If the owner doesn’t practice their homework on a regular basis, the training will not progress or work.

We expect commitment & dedication to your training & it will involve homework

After you get your dog back from a Board & Train

We will show you what to do. If the owner doesn’t upkeep the rules or handle the dog correctly once home, the dog will revert or become rusty. Resulting in the leash pulling & reactivity to return

Services suitable to help you with these issues are:

· Private Lesson

· Board & Train

· Home Visits – Please note: This service is not necessary unless you are having problems WITHIN your home or your dog is extremely nervous or human aggressive.

· Group Classes - (In the future once a certain level of skills & control has been achieved) – This will help to expose your dog to many dogs & situations in a control environment.

If you have any further questions after reading this, would like to know more about our services, prices, availabilities or how we can help, send us a message!

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