4 Ways to Calm Your Reactive Dog

A reactive dog may overreact to certain situations or stimuli. These reactions can include lunging, growling, and barking. Reactivity should not be confused with aggression. Though many reactive dogs do not have aggressive or violent tendencies, they could still be perceived as so by strangers in the public.

Some common causes of dog reactivity include poor socialization, the dog’s genetic makeup, and past bad experiences. A reactive dog can be difficult to handle. Many people with reactive dogs may end up avoiding public places and new situations as they are unsure how their dog will behave around strangers. It can be stressful for both them and their pooch.

Here are some ways to calm a reactive dog.

Set Up a Routine

Every dog needs a routine. A routine lets your four-legged friend know what to expect every day and when to expect it. A simple routine creates structure in your canine’s life, calming it down and reducing anxiety and stressors caused by change.

If your reactive dog already has a routine, consider changing it. For example, take it out for walks during the best times to avoid crowds, reducing the number of triggers. If they’re triggered by other dogs being too close, avoid places where an off-leash dog can run up to it.

Use Equipment

The right equipment can help create a safe environment for your reactive dog. A dog crate, for example, provides a secure space for your pooch to retreat to when it feels overwhelmed. Similarly, a dog bed can help create a comforting environment for your canine.

Make sure the length of the leash you are using is at least six feet, as a shorter leash can make your reactive dog feel restrained. If your dog tends to lunge at the end of the leash, consider a Y-shaped harness.

Board Your Pooch

Consider doggie daycare in Marin County for your dog. The best doggie daycare facilities have separate play areas for reactive dogs. They employ animal behaviorists trained to handle reactive dogs. Many doggie daycare centers have special toys designed to stimulate dogs’ brains and help calm reactive dogs. Some facilities allow reactive dogs to enjoy some solo time in gated areas.

Learn to Understand Your Dog’s Body Language

Dogs use their body language to communicate with each other and humans. When you understand your dog’s body language, you can tell if it is feeling comfortable or scared. Some signs a dog is stressed include rapid breathing, yawning, self-grooming, lip licking, and a stiff tail. If you notice these signs, try to calm your pooch down and move away from the stressor.

Bridewell Hilltop Boarding Kennels & Cattery is a trusted doggy daycare center in Marin County. Our employees are avid animal lovers. They go the extra mile to ensure our guests have the best boarding experience. To learn more, call 415-897-5471.


Bridewell Hilltop Boarding Kennels & Cattery is dedicated exclusively to the care of dogs, cats, and small animals other than reptiles. Bridewell specializes in dog boarding, cat boarding, pet grooming and more for the areas of Novato, San Rafael and Marin County.