As a dog trainer, I have had plenty of opportunity to help dogs and their owners overcome leash reactivity including how to stop a dog from lunging on a leash. For years, I used my sweet dog, Savannah, as a helper dog, as she loved every dog and person she ever met and could be trusted to be calm, cool and collected in virtually any situation (well, aside from the time she encountered a giant red Jolly Ball unexpectedly and I can’t say I blamed her for that!). When I retired her, it was with incredible gratitude for her service and the knowledge that I likely wouldn’t be able to provide that service any longer. And that’s because…well…my current dog, Hazel, is- you guessed it- she is a leash reactive dog! And I am going to be honest, it’s something I have mostly chosen not to work on and that’s simply because I can.

Living with a Leash Reactive Dog 1

Sweetest Savannah. The world’s best Helper Dog.

I live in a pretty small town, with lots of options for walking. Rather than tackling the issue, we’ve chosen to walk in quiet locations, and have gotten a pretty good idea of when we are least likely to run into things that might set Hazel off. This is a pretty lazy choice for a dog trainer, though I have taken advantage of times when I can do “set-ups” with other people and dogs, but admittedly our training has not been consistent. The picture at the top of this blog is one such example and Hazel did extraordinarily well at not going into freak out mode and I was so, so proud of us. And that’s the thing about training: when it works, progress is made, and you see improvements, it is so gratifying. My only excuse for not continuing is laziness. And I admit, I like our quiet walks quite a bit.

All this is not to say I don’t think training for leash reactivity is not worthwhile or necessary- quite the opposite, actually. When I was working with clients, many of them did have to walk on crowded streets, past other dogs, critters, bicycles and more. Management was always put in place first (we talk about this in our upcoming course ‘Leave It: Help for Leash Reactive Dogs’ quite a bit), to avoid mishaps, and training absolutely helped these folks and their dogs have more enjoyable walks. Walks without freak-outs, embarrassment and upset. That’s a really nice thing! These dogs get out more often and their people are happier with them. That’s something to celebrate!

‘Leave It: Help for Leash Reactive Dogs’ with Sarah Pennington of Yaletown Dog Training ย was born out of Sarah’s experience working with leash reactivity in an urban environment, where unexpected things can happen at virtually any time. As a downtown trainer, Sarah was constantly getting calls for help with this issue. She developed the protocol because there was a real need for people to be able to walk their dogs and even the simplest potty walk could turn into a fireworks display! She got to practice and refine the protocol with her very own dog Bear, a 10 lb. spitfire who would put on quite the show when he saw birds and squirrels. You can see how far Bear has come in the video below!

Leave It for Leash Reactivity: Bear

It may be hard to believe, but little Bear here used to lunge, bark, shriek and pull to get to all sorts of critters. Luckily, he shares his life with the brilliant Sarah Pennington of Yaletown Dog Training. Sarah developed her Leave It protocol to help curb Bear's impulsivity and then realized that it could have all sorts of applications in downtown Vancouver where she lives and started using it with her clients. ๐ŸŒ‡Thanks to her education and experience, Sarah realized she could use this behavior with friendly dogs who are super-excited when they see other dogs on-leash, as well as those prone to chasing critters, skateboards and bicyclists. She's now used it with dozens of city and suburban dogs and the plan has been tested and used by many of our colleagues with great success. ๐Ÿ‘๐ŸฝWe're very excited to be able to teach the protocol in our upcoming course "Leave It for Leash Reactivity" and help more people overcome one of the biggest issues dog trainers are contacted about.Stay tuned! It's coming real soon. ๐ŸŽ‰

Posted by on Monday, December 3, 2018

In the course, Sarah provides training plans and video demos of the training in action and more. You can read more about the course here. This course is being released to newsletter subscribers on 12/20/2018, 48 hours ahead of the public, so sign up now! You’ll also get special VIP pricing for subscribers only!

And if you’ve got a reactive dog, a nice supportive adjunct is Jessica Dolce’s ‘Living with DINOS’ course, where you’ll learn tactics to manage the stress at your end of the leash!

Consider buying ‘Leave It: Help for Reactive Dogs’ as a Holiday gift to yourself (and your dog ๐Ÿ˜‰) and get off on the right paw for 2019! ย ๐Ÿถ๐ŸŽ„๐Ÿพ