Leash Reactivity

A gentle, effective, and enlightened approach to dog training

What is Leash Reactivity?

If you've ever struggled with your dog's barking and lunging on walks, you know the stress this behavior causes on both ends of the leash. If your dog acts in similar ways behind barriers such as a fence or window, you might be dealing with a leash reactivity issue.

When a dog obnoxiously responds (or reacts) to a stimulus or trigger, that behavior is considered “reactive.” These undesirable reactions are oftentimes in response to other dogs, people, cats, and cars, but what triggers a dog varies individually. Likewise, it is important to note that there are dogs that are not reactive off-leash but are while on. You may notice that the constraint of a leash exacerbates reactivity. On leash, dogs can feel trapped and may switch from their flight instinct, to fight.

If this sounds like your dog, don’t worry, our company has the best staff of professional dog trainers ready to help! A reactive dog must learn better coping skills in the presence of a trigger, and must develop impulse control to utilize those coping skills instead of reacting. In line with our "set your dog up for success" philosophy, we take it one step at a time, and take special care to provide the least invasive and minimally aversive approach to reach training goals.

Without training and professional guidance, it is unlikely that reactivity issues would just go away as this way of acting could be self-reinforcing. Many people unintentionally increase their reactive dog’s anxiety and feeling of being trapped by correcting their dog by scolding, jerking at the leash, or roughly grabbing their dog, then forcing their dog to sit or lie down for any perceived display of aggression. This is not recommended because you do not want to teach your dog that their triggers (other dogs, people, etc) cause punishment. Correcting a dog for growling or barking suppresses communication of those warnings to prevent them from growling or barking in the future. This is harmful because now the dog may go straight to biting without warning or worse, redirect their aggression towards the handler.

Changing strong habits takes time for humans and canines alike! We keep this in mind when implementing our training protocols and move forward at the individual dog’s pace. Our training methods are compassionate and void of any kind of intimidation. Punishing away the symptoms (lunging, barking, etc) may temporarily suppress the display but the underlying emotional cause still remains unaddressed. Our exercises intend to adjust responses and counter condition triggers.

How does Karma Dog Training do this?
  • Support realistic expectations
  • Empower the owners with positive reinforcement based, humane training methods
  • Implement mindful management to prevent a scenario where the dog displays reactivity
  • Set up training for success based on the individual dog and owner
  • Teach the reactive dog foundational skills and default behaviors
  • Teach the reactive dog a more appropriate response
  • Mark and reward desirable behaviors and good choices
  • Find the current coping threshold and carefully increase it
  • Teach the reactive dog to notice a stimulus and look to the handler
  • Begin applying coping skills under our professional guidance in a more real-life setting
  • Practice skills with a lower-level trigger present in a controlled training set-up
  • Slowly start to introduce the trigger at a far distance and keep the reactive dog under threshold- noting that reactionary behaviors are indicators the dog is over threshold
  • Adjust protocols based on results at each step
  • Equipt the owners with skills and knowledge of how to follow through with and maintain progress


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I cannot say enough good things about Karma Dog Training and recommend them more to anyone looking for dog training. I was a nervous first time puppy owner and was put at ease right away once I found Karma.

- Mariel C.
West Hollywood, CA


Karma Dog Training has given me a great experience of learning the basic commands and procedures of owning a first time puppy. In the Kindergarten Puppy training class, Jennifer Sturgeon, one of the dog trainers that was there was very kind and helpful.

- John L.
Arcadia, CA

Contact UsEmily Ozrey
Director, Karma Dog Training

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