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How To Help Dogs With Car Reactivity

Written by Kate LaSala

August 25, 2020

Many dogs are reactive (often looks like lunging and/or barking) to cars.  This can make walks stressful, embarrassing or downright miserable for you.  So what do we do?  We train your dog to do something else, something that he’s unable to do at the same time as lunging/barking.  My go-to for this is a Leave It cue.

Shadow’s family has been doing remote training with me during Covid and car reactivity came up during our last session.  Since they are local to me, they took advantage of my drop off day training option and I was able to quickly and efficiently lay the foundation for Leave It during this one session.  Then 2 weeks later, after some continued practice at home, Shadow and his mom met me at a local park so we could “take it on the road” in real life application.

It’s important when you’re training an alternate behavior to train what you’d like your dog to do instead, in a low distraction environment first and then practice it with slightly more difficult things.  So in Shadow’s case, I trained the Leave It cue in my home, then we practiced with him leaving food on the floor and then turning away and leaving dogs at a distance (doing a 180* turn around so his butt is facing the dog and his face is facing you, so you can reward him in this position).  Then when his mom and I met at the park, we started with cars, but at a distance, not on the sidewalk right away.  We gradually got closer and closer, giving him incremental practice and lots of successes.

Here’s a short video which shows Shadow’s baseline reaction to cars and then his progress throughout our session.  I think you’ll be amazed at the progress!

I’d love to hear your feedback!  Join me on Facebook, share a video of your dog if you’re working on this behavior or contact me for help!

Happy Training!

 

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