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Hey, first time poster here. I adopted a german shepherd a month back. She is very sweet, and does very well with training at home. She is like 99% perfect, and I really lucked out with her.

However, going for walks is stressful. She tugs the entire time, and gets very distracted by squirrels and dogs. Squirrels excite her, and make her want to chase them. Other dogs, whether seen or heard, makes her scared and angry, and she goes into fight mode. Ignores cars and generally ignores most humans (thank god).

I've read a lot of advice. They suggest 3 things. 1) Start at home, then generalize to the yard, then generalize to the driveway, then generalize to the street (basically, baby steps). 2) Start and stop. When she tugs, stop moving. When she has a loose leash, commence moving. 3) Use the good rewards!

All of that sounds great, but... it goes too slow, and we barely go anywhere! We can spend 45 minutes just start stop and treating in the driveway, and not even get to the end of it. Her compliance starts to drop off after 15 minutes of intense training. I don't want to inadvertently reward her for the wrong thing by ending the training session at that point, and starting the normal walk. But I also don't want to not give her the walk she needs. When she doesn't get her walk she seems so "down" (and a little less compliant overall with other previously learned commands around the house which is concerning). Then there's the treats. It's like they don't exist outside. I'm using some pretty good ones too! I'm struggling to find a treat that is more rewarding that the prospect of killing a squirrel or forging ahead. And that problem is magnified greatly if she sees another dog because there's an anxiety component at that point.

I just need some advice. Is it wrong to just do a normal walk (tugging and all) after 15 minutes of training, or should I pack it in and go back inside at that point? What are good treats to use? How do I give her the stimulation she needs from walks without rewarding her for walking wrong?

Thank you so much in advance.
 

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This is a paid resource, but it's only $50, and you will have access to the material for a year. Fenzi Dog Sports Academy - EW100: Reducing Overarousal and Reactivity via the Circle Method of Leash Walking It's a series of three webinars combined into one self study course.
Ohhhh, thank you! I really like webinars! I was getting annoyed with the youtube tutorials and the blogs because they only give you the broad strokes, and clearly it's more complicated than they are letting on. This looks like it will give me loads of good information : )
 

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As an FYI, since this is a self study option, you won't have the ability to ask questions, but you will be able to join the school group on Facebook, and have access to a whole community of support.
 

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As an FYI, since this is a self study option, you won't have the ability to ask questions, but you will be able to join the school group on Facebook, and have access to a whole community of support.
Thanks. And if you don't mind, I have 1 additional follow up question.

The other reason walks are not fun for us, aside from the pulling, is the dog on dog aggression. This a huge problem because there are a lot of people in the neighborhood that walk their dogs. Similar to all things outside of the house, the treats don't work. I'm watching some reactive dog training videos, such as this one. I like what I'm seeing, but it is an aversive method (the slip collar applies pressure, there's stern "no"s and "leave it"s). Granted, the dog is rewarded when they do successfully heel. In contrast, I read that aversive and punishment based training can make your dog more anxious and aggressive. I'm having trouble knowing whose right?

I feel like what all this advice is meant to say is "don't hit your dog obviously, but light aversive methods and stern wording is okay, and when they do good, still reward them and love them." Am I synthesizing this all right?
 

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You can not change the way the dog feels about other dogs. You CAN insist on obedience such as a sit or a down and you can correct the dog for disobedience.

FIRST you must teach both sit and down in numerous places and proof it out so that the dog is CLEAR on what you want. You cannot correct for what the dog does not CLEARLY know. Making a command CLEAR takes weeks and proofing it in many places. The JOB is to pay attention to you and to do what you have asked and not react to the other dog.

MOST dog aggression is FEAR BASED. Get between your dog and the other dog. Push your dog back (step into his space). Let him know that he can feel whatever he wants but it is not his job to deal with other dogs. You will do it.

I have absolutely gotten between my dog and another dog (even if the dog is far away) and let my dog know he must sit and to cut the crap out. He can keep his feelings but he better do the job I have asked for (sit/down and pay attention to me).
 

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You can not change the way the dog feels about other dogs. You CAN insist on obedience such as a sit or a down and you can correct the dog for disobedience.
Insisting a dog do an obedience behavior when they can't even think isn't exactly easy, unless you physically force them and hold them in position. Which doesn't help with the emotional reaction to whatever it is that they are freaking out over. The much better option is to just get the -ahem- out of Dodge, and wait until they have calmed down before trying again with the trigger at a further distance.
 
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You can not change the way the dog feels about other dogs. You CAN insist on obedience such as a sit or a down and you can correct the dog for disobedience.

FIRST you must teach both sit and down in numerous places and proof it out so that the dog is CLEAR on what you want. You cannot correct for what the dog does not CLEARLY know. Making a command CLEAR takes weeks and proofing it in many places. The JOB is to pay attention to you and to do what you have asked and not react to the other dog.

MOST dog aggression is FEAR BASED. Get between your dog and the other dog. Push your dog back (step into his space). Let him know that he can feel whatever he wants but it is not his job to deal with other dogs. You will do it.

I have absolutely gotten between my dog and another dog (even if the dog is far away) and let my dog know he must sit and to cut the crap out. He can keep his feelings but he better do the job I have asked for (sit/down and pay attention to me).
If a dog is reacting, they have crossed 'over threshold' and are no longer in a place where it is reasonable to expect them to respond to "known" cues. It's not a matter of the dog knowing he must 'sit & cut the crap out'. How totally unreasonable & unfeeling of you to think you can "insist" the dog stop feeling what he's feeling & responding as such. The only way this scenario is even achievable is to use punishment that is more aversive to the dog than the feeling of fear that they are feeling towards the other dog (or whatever).
Do YOU have any serious phobias? If so, let me put you in a room with those items of your deepest fears & insist you perform your JOB to the highest level of managerial expectation or you're fired!!!
 

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Insisting a dog do an obedience behavior when they can't even think isn't exactly easy, unless you physically force them and hold them in position. Which doesn't help with the emotional reaction to whatever it is that they are freaking out over. The much better option is to just get the -ahem- out of Dodge, and wait until they have calmed down before trying again with the trigger at a further distance.
This is where the handler needs to be smarter and more watchful than the dog. You ask for the sit and focus BEFORE the dog reacts. I should have stated that. I assume people are paying attention and would do that but I guess.. well.. that word.. Assume.

Teach the behavior. Teach it ad nauseum. Teach it every where. Then when you see another dog BEFORE your dog goes gonzo, you ask for the behavior and focus. You enforce that if need be.

MOST reactivity is the on the handler, not on the dog.

If a dog is reacting, they have crossed 'over threshold' and are no longer in a place where it is reasonable to expect them to respond to "known" cues. It's not a matter of the dog knowing he must 'sit & cut the crap out'. How totally unreasonable & unfeeling of you to think you can "insist" the dog stop feeling what he's feeling & responding as such. The only way this scenario is even achievable is to use punishment that is more aversive to the dog than the feeling of fear that they are feeling towards the other dog (or whatever).
Do YOU have any serious phobias? If so, let me put you in a room with those items of your deepest fears & insist you perform your JOB to the highest level of managerial expectation or you're fired!!!
Note what I said above. The handler must teach the sit and the focus and proof it. The handler must see the other dog (or situation) BEFORE their dog does. Then you ask for the behavior and focus.

Dogs cannot think of two things at once. You capture what you want before the dog does what the dog wants. You, the handler, lose your chance to curb reactivity because you were not watchful and did did not anticipate and did not see it coming and did not require an alternate behavior (that you have taught and proofed to the hilt).

MOST reactivity is on the handler and not on the dog. We have to be aware of our surroundings before the dog is. We have to be ever mindful and watchful. We should be anyway.

Reactivity is 99% prevention. And yes, I had a GSD (good dog.. got a lot of titles and well trained) that at 13 months old started the reactive crap. She was also trained a lot. The deal was sit and focus until the other dog went by. Of course she had been trained to sit and had been proofed and truly knew the sit and what it meant. Everywhere.

Other dog coming? Stepped aside, sat my dog, focus on me.. and reward the focus... you drop focus or get up THAT was corrected and the instant focus/sit returned reward the dog. After other dog went by I released my dog and rewarded. It got so that I could walk this dog off leash, ask for a focused heel and go past ANYTHING and she would do it. It takes work, but I believe most dogs can be taught this. Some take a lot more effort than others!! It is doable.

The more you ALLOW reactivity, the worse it gets. The more you PREVENT reactivity and make the dog responsible for holding a command cue and focus, the less reactivity you have.

This same dog (that was headed down the reactive path) was expected to sign into a judge on a field off leash next to another dog she did not know in competition. We got that. Many times. In training and in competition. As another part of the competition she was expected to hold a long down off leash with me out of sight 30 paces away while another dog worked the obedience pattern on the field. She did all that. It is called training.
 

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This is where the handler needs to be smarter and more watchful than the dog. You ask for the sit and focus BEFORE the dog reacts. I should have stated that. I assume people are paying attention and would do that but I guess.. well.. that word.. Assume.

Teach the behavior. Teach it ad nauseum. Teach it every where. Then when you see another dog BEFORE your dog goes gonzo, you ask for the behavior and focus. You enforce that if need be.

MOST reactivity is the on the handler, not on the dog.



Note what I said above. The handler must teach the sit and the focus and proof it. The handler must see the other dog (or situation) BEFORE their dog does. Then you ask for the behavior and focus.

Dogs cannot think of two things at once. You capture what you want before the dog does what the dog wants. You, the handler, lose your chance to curb reactivity because you were not watchful and did did not anticipate and did not see it coming and did not require an alternate behavior (that you have taught and proofed to the hilt).

MOST reactivity is on the handler and not on the dog. We have to be aware of our surroundings before the dog is. We have to be ever mindful and watchful. We should be anyway.

Reactivity is 99% prevention. And yes, I had a GSD (good dog.. got a lot of titles and well trained) that at 13 months old started the reactive crap. She was also trained a lot. The deal was sit and focus until the other dog went by. Of course she had been trained to sit and had been proofed and truly knew the sit and what it meant. Everywhere.

Other dog coming? Stepped aside, sat my dog, focus on me.. and reward the focus... you drop focus or get up THAT was corrected and the instant focus/sit returned reward the dog. After other dog went by I released my dog and rewarded. It got so that I could walk this dog off leash, ask for a focused heel and go past ANYTHING and she would do it. It takes work, but I believe most dogs can be taught this. Some take a lot more effort than others!! It is doable.

The more you ALLOW reactivity, the worse it gets. The more you PREVENT reactivity and make the dog responsible for holding a command cue and focus, the less reactivity you have.

This same dog (that was headed down the reactive path) was expected to sign into a judge on a field off leash next to another dog she did not know in competition. We got that. Many times. In training and in competition. As another part of the competition she was expected to hold a long down off leash with me out of sight 30 paces away while another dog worked the obedience pattern on the field. She did all that. It is called training.
I will agree with you that the more you allow reactivity, the worse it gets. I also agree that the more you prevent reactivity the less reactivity you have. What I do absolutely NOT agree with is your attitude of 'just MAKE the dog do a known command & all is well' attitude. Training? Yeah, I understand all that - but when the dog is confronted with something that they are absolutely terrified of, the only way to shut that down IMMEDIATELY!!! is to provide something even more scary in the heat of the moment. How friggin' sad for your dog.
You & I will never agree on this particular issue, & that's fine with me. But to physically punish/correct a dog for not 'obeying' a known command (I cue my dogs, but you seem to prefer to order yours around like soldiers in boot camp) when they are scared & just trying to remain safe... Yeah, that's not the way I operate. Nor do most modern, humane trainers. You do you. Don't recommend it to other dog owners who seek to find a better method.
 

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This is where the handler needs to be smarter and more watchful than the dog. You ask for the sit and focus BEFORE the dog reacts. I should have stated that. I assume people are paying attention and would do that but I guess.. well.. that word.. Assume.

Teach the behavior. Teach it ad nauseum. Teach it every where. Then when you see another dog BEFORE your dog goes gonzo, you ask for the behavior and focus. You enforce that if need be.
Fine, you see the trigger before the dog does, and the dog sits on cue. Then, when they do see the "scary monster thing", and it's headed right at them, expecting them to stay sitting without freaking out is unreasonable, and punishing them for losing their marbles is flat-out cruel. I mean, if you expect me to sit quietly and without moving while I know there is a giant tree roach somewhere in the house, then you will be sorely disappointed, because it ain't happening. And if you try and force me to, I will fight you tooth and nail, and someone's going to get hurt (and I will be doing my darnedest to make sure it's you and not me).

Yes, there are times when there is absolutely no other option but to face something head on and soldier through, but to force your dog to do it all the time, every time... Like I said, I think that is just cruel.
 

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A couple things.

"Reactive" is next to useless once you start getting into details about how to address it, because it can cover both a wide range of actual behaviors (from barking and pulling to serious snarling, lunging, redirecting bites onto the handler) and a wide range of underlying causes (alertness/interest, excitement, fear, predatory drive). Dealing with a dog who has some naughty leash behaviors because they're excited or alert to environmental changes, but aren't super emotionally amped up, is very, very different than dealing with a dog that is having an intense emotional response to the trigger. In the former case, yes, often teaching the dog what you DO want them to do in that situation, and reinforcing that alternative behavior can be really effective. You have to take a completely different approach to a dog whose emotional state is so charged that they physically cannot process input from their handler. Telling someone with the latter scenario to just fix it as if it were the former scenario is setting everyone up to fail.

Point is - assuming one "reactive" dog is having the same external behaviors and/or internal emotional state as any other "reactive" dog is silly, as is assuming that what works for one will work for all dogs one can possibly label "reactive".

Secondly, even when reactivity is undeniably caused or worsened by the owner/handler, it's a pretty darn useless thing to point out. Hi, I'm an owner who absolutely set up my first dog to have reactivity issues, and am now dealing with the consequences. Understanding that I was part of what created this problem does absolutely nothing to improve how I work with it now. Understanding <i>what</i> I did helps a little, but it's still much more useful to inform how I handle future dogs, rather than change how I'm currently managing and working with the reactive one. Yes, being alert for triggers and being proactive with putting distance between your dog and it - as well as getting as much engagement from your dog as possible - helps, but acting like this is ALWAYS possible in the real world with a dog who has serious emotional responses to their triggers is. Silly.

Example: I was loading up my reactive dog into the car a few nights ago. He was sniffing something with his back to the end of the driveway. Suddenly a Tervuren just pops up from behind the bush (on leash, but the handler was a few steps behind and not immediately visible) at the end of our driveway, not three yards away. Waaaay inside my dog's threshold, and he does worse with 'surprise' dogs (as opposed to when he's aware of them at a distance and they approach) and in the dark. Luckily I was able to get him in the car and tethered without him spotting the dog, but only because his back was turned when it appeared. No amount of me being vigilant and proactive could've saved me from a blow-up if he'd been looking in the same direction I was. I'm not always this lucky, and very few people have the luxury of living somewhere so quiet or remote that they can reliably avoid their dog's triggers surprising them. The fact that I can't always prevent reactivity doesn't mean I'm a bad handler, or that my current approach to working with him is wrong, and it's more important to empower people dealing with these frustrating issues than guilt them.

To more directly answer your questions, @visualbread, is there any way you can exercise her without walks for a while? Access to a yard or other safe, enclosed outdoor space where you can engage her in some active play, do some more physical training, that kind of thing? That would be ideal, so that you can always keep leashed walks as training time, and it's okay if you don't get very far. If you have space but it's not big enough to be her only physical outlet, some more vigorous play before walks might help take the edge off her excitement - just know that some dogs need time to cool off after high-energy play to come back down to a calmer space, while others can go right into a calmer activity.

The alternative I would choose if non-walk exercise isn't realistic (as someone who's rented the entire time I've had dogs and knows safe, fenced outdoor spaces aren't always easy to come by) is to have two pieces of gear on the dog. When you're training, you have the leash attached to one (say, the collar). When you're done the training and just need an exercise/stimulation walk, switch to the other (say a front clip harness). The gear you're actively training with should be what you want to be able to walk the dog on long-term. Hopefully, you'll slowly be able to have her go longer and longer on the collar, and she'll learn that she has to mind her manners when she's hooked up to her collar, even if she can be nutty on harness walks.

The issue with other dogs may need to be addressed separately to her walking manners in general, for all the reasons discussed above. Emotionally driven behavior is harder to change, especially if she's had a long history of doing this. I like Patricia McConnell's "Feisty Fido" book as a primer about why dogs can be leash reactive and what to do about it, and her "Cautious Canine" addresses fear issues more generally - she also has some free blog articles on the subject of reactivity and dog-dog aggression. For something more in-depth, Grisha Stewart's BAT 2.0 was a really informative read for me, though it's much more technical. I don't have the resources to do her full BAT 2.0 program (it requires lots of space and easy access to human and canine 'helpers'), but there was a lot in there that I could apply to managing and working with my leash reactive dog. "Frantic, Fired-Up, and Freaked Out" by Laura Van Arendonk Baugh and "Control Unleashed" (I think 'from Reactive to Relaxed" is the most recent version) by Leslie McDevitt are also great options if you're looking for more in-depth guidance without the cost of a professional behavior consult (which are also an option, but the books are a great first step).
 

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This is where the handler needs to be smarter and more watchful than the dog. You ask for the sit and focus BEFORE the dog reacts.
Then when you see another dog BEFORE your dog goes gonzo, you ask for the behavior and focus.
The handler must see the other dog (or situation) BEFORE their dog does.
You, the handler, lose your chance to curb reactivity because you were not watchful and did did not anticipate and did not see it coming and [...]
We have to be aware of our surroundings before the dog is. We have to be ever mindful and watchful.
Wow. That's a WHOLE BUNCH of ideal, and a big load of mindful and watchful. And it unduly puts far too much onus on the handler to 'be proactive' if they have any hope of being successful at curbing reactivity.

Real life ain't like that.

Cats do unexpectedly saunter out from behind parked vehicles. Squirrels do instantly scurry from the base of tree trunks and telephone poles. Dogs do quickly appear in passing cars, at blind corners, and from behind hedges. We can't ALWAYS see things coming. Because that's, you know ... real life.
 

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I will agree with you that the more you allow reactivity, the worse it gets. I also agree that the more you prevent reactivity the less reactivity you have. What I do absolutely NOT agree with is your attitude of 'just MAKE the dog do a known command & all is well' attitude. Training? Yeah, I understand all that - but when the dog is confronted with something that they are absolutely terrified of, the only way to shut that down IMMEDIATELY!!! is to provide something even more scary in the heat of the moment. How friggin' sad for your dog.
You & I will never agree on this particular issue, & that's fine with me. But to physically punish/correct a dog for not 'obeying' a known command (I cue my dogs, but you seem to prefer to order yours around like soldiers in boot camp) when they are scared & just trying to remain safe... Yeah, that's not the way I operate. Nor do most modern, humane trainers. You do you. Don't recommend it to other dog owners who seek to find a better method.
I think you have taken this well beyond something I suggest.
First and foremost you train the dog to sit and focus. You train it everywhere. You train it so it is a default behavior. I did say you PROOF IT EVERYWHERE.

Now, you are walking your dog. You see an approaching situation (someone walking a dog and your dog is dog reactive). You step aside as far as you need or as far as you can. It may mean being smart enough to cross the street. You stand between your dog and the other approaching dog. You ask for sit. You move to stay between your dog and the other dog. Your dog now has a job. The job is to sit. You have proofed this everywhere.

Here is what I see happen most often IF you have trained the behavior and proofed it (and it isn't a two week process it is weeks and weeks process.. training dogs is work). The dog has learned that SIT is safe. NOTHING bad happens when the dog sits. EVER. You are between the dog and whatever concerns him. You know what I most often see? A dog RELIEVED TO SIT AND FOCUS because it is SAFE to do so.

Obedience can be a job the dog will default to IF the owner has done the training right and the dog understands that the behavior asked and performed by the dog is safe and (sometimes) very rewarding. RARELY does the dog need that correction.. and again, we are not talking about ripping the dog's head off. We are talking about the dog getting a nudge.. enough of a nudge to remember "oh wait.. focus and sit." And yes, you have to be astute and you have to really pay attention and you do need good timing.

I took a dog to get his CGC. I train a lot.. and the CGC exercises are pretty basic to that training. I never practiced but I did train. I took that dog to a HUGE dog breed show where the CGC test was in the midst of Breed show dogs (intact, some in heat and so forth). He was like "WOW! This is a LOT to take in." His worry was palpable. I asked him to heel.. competition focused heel.. through that stuff to the CGC test area. I could feel the dog actually relax into that heel position as he had learned that heeling was a good thing, focus was a good thing.. and focus meant the rest of that overwhelming stuff was not on his mind. He passed the CGC with flying colors. I am not saying EVERY dog can or would do this even with a LOT of training.. but I will say it IMPROVES your ODDS and that is never bad.

Fine, you see the trigger before the dog does, and the dog sits on cue. Then, when they do see the "scary monster thing", and it's headed right at them, expecting them to stay sitting without freaking out is unreasonable, and punishing them for losing their marbles is flat-out cruel. I mean, if you expect me to sit quietly and without moving while I know there is a giant tree roach somewhere in the house, then you will be sorely disappointed, because it ain't happening. And if you try and force me to, I will fight you tooth and nail, and someone's going to get hurt (and I will be doing my darnedest to make sure it's you and not me).

Yes, there are times when there is absolutely no other option but to face something head on and soldier through, but to force your dog to do it all the time, every time... Like I said, I think that is just cruel.
This requires a bit of impulse control training.. JMO.. tho I admit I do not or never will understand true phobias of things that cannot possibly hurt a person. I don't LIKE those things but reason prevails that I am bigger than it and my shoe or my hand or whatever will do can end the existence of a giant tree roach.

That said, as a handler you already know Fido is fearful of tree roaches. Again.. you have trained a default behavior (I use sit and focus because the dog has to pay a bit more attention to balance sitting than he does in a down and focus is physically easier with him sitting and looking up). The dog finds the default behavior safe. You don't TEACH it under duress. You TEACH it and PROOF it and add duration just like any behavior. The dog has learned NOTHING BAD will happen when sitting and focusing. You stay between the dog and the scary whatever. You don't start 2 feet away because you have thumbs and know that starting 2 feet away will be a train wreck.

As I said above, IF you have done your homework the dog finds actual solace in sit and focus. NOTHING bad happens there and YOU are between the dog and the Big Scary. The dog has learned that sit and focus is something that is rewarding and because you have a variable reward schedule he knows sometimes that sit and focus is not only safe it can bring good things.

IF you have truly done your homework the need to correct is reduced substantially. And you have to be astute. You have to be anticipating and you have to have good timing AND (because you have done this already in training) you have a bridge word (I use a soft gooood) so that IF you must correct you can let the dog know he has it right when focus returns (you can use food along with this).

I see nothing cruel in any of this. It is not being big and scary. It is training obedience.


A couple things.

"Reactive" is next to useless once you start getting into details about how to address it, because it can cover both a wide range of actual behaviors (from barking and pulling to serious snarling, lunging, redirecting bites onto the handler) and a wide range of underlying causes (alertness/interest, excitement, fear, predatory drive). Dealing with a dog who has some naughty leash behaviors because they're excited or alert to environmental changes, but aren't super emotionally amped up, is very, very different than dealing with a dog that is having an intense emotional response to the trigger. In the former case, yes, often teaching the dog what you DO want them to do in that situation, and reinforcing that alternative behavior can be really effective. You have to take a completely different approach to a dog whose emotional state is so charged that they physically cannot process input from their handler. Telling someone with the latter scenario to just fix it as if it were the former scenario is setting everyone up to fail.

Point is - assuming one "reactive" dog is having the same external behaviors and/or internal emotional state as any other "reactive" dog is silly, as is assuming that what works for one will work for all dogs one can possibly label "reactive".

Secondly, even when reactivity is undeniably caused or worsened by the owner/handler, it's a pretty darn useless thing to point out. Hi, I'm an owner who absolutely set up my first dog to have reactivity issues, and am now dealing with the consequences. Understanding that I was part of what created this problem does absolutely nothing to improve how I work with it now. Understanding <i>what</i> I did helps a little, but it's still much more useful to inform how I handle future dogs, rather than change how I'm currently managing and working with the reactive one. Yes, being alert for triggers and being proactive with putting distance between your dog and it - as well as getting as much engagement from your dog as possible - helps, but acting like this is ALWAYS possible in the real world with a dog who has serious emotional responses to their triggers is. Silly.

Example: I was loading up my reactive dog into the car a few nights ago. He was sniffing something with his back to the end of the driveway. Suddenly a Tervuren just pops up from behind the bush (on leash, but the handler was a few steps behind and not immediately visible) at the end of our driveway, not three yards away. Waaaay inside my dog's threshold, and he does worse with 'surprise' dogs (as opposed to when he's aware of them at a distance and they approach) and in the dark. Luckily I was able to get him in the car and tethered without him spotting the dog, but only because his back was turned when it appeared. No amount of me being vigilant and proactive could've saved me from a blow-up if he'd been looking in the same direction I was. I'm not always this lucky, and very few people have the luxury of living somewhere so quiet or remote that they can reliably avoid their dog's triggers surprising them. The fact that I can't always prevent reactivity doesn't mean I'm a bad handler, or that my current approach to working with him is wrong, and it's more important to empower people dealing with these frustrating issues than guilt them.

To more directly answer your questions, @visualbread, is there any way you can exercise her without walks for a while? Access to a yard or other safe, enclosed outdoor space where you can engage her in some active play, do some more physical training, that kind of thing? That would be ideal, so that you can always keep leashed walks as training time, and it's okay if you don't get very far. If you have space but it's not big enough to be her only physical outlet, some more vigorous play before walks might help take the edge off her excitement - just know that some dogs need time to cool off after high-energy play to come back down to a calmer space, while others can go right into a calmer activity.

The alternative I would choose if non-walk exercise isn't realistic (as someone who's rented the entire time I've had dogs and knows safe, fenced outdoor spaces aren't always easy to come by) is to have two pieces of gear on the dog. When you're training, you have the leash attached to one (say, the collar). When you're done the training and just need an exercise/stimulation walk, switch to the other (say a front clip harness). The gear you're actively training with should be what you want to be able to walk the dog on long-term. Hopefully, you'll slowly be able to have her go longer and longer on the collar, and she'll learn that she has to mind her manners when she's hooked up to her collar, even if she can be nutty on harness walks.

The issue with other dogs may need to be addressed separately to her walking manners in general, for all the reasons discussed above. Emotionally driven behavior is harder to change, especially if she's had a long history of doing this. I like Patricia McConnell's "Feisty Fido" book as a primer about why dogs can be leash reactive and what to do about it, and her "Cautious Canine" addresses fear issues more generally - she also has some free blog articles on the subject of reactivity and dog-dog aggression. For something more in-depth, Grisha Stewart's BAT 2.0 was a really informative read for me, though it's much more technical. I don't have the resources to do her full BAT 2.0 program (it requires lots of space and easy access to human and canine 'helpers'), but there was a lot in there that I could apply to managing and working with my leash reactive dog. "Frantic, Fired-Up, and Freaked Out" by Laura Van Arendonk Baugh and "Control Unleashed" (I think 'from Reactive to Relaxed" is the most recent version) by Leslie McDevitt are also great options if you're looking for more in-depth guidance without the cost of a professional behavior consult (which are also an option, but the books are a great first step).
There are many good suggestions here.

However, the example of you having a reactive dog and you are loading up and another dog pops around the corner while your dog is sniffing the ground. It appears that you live in a city or suburb where you know this can happen. Why was your dog sniffing and not loaded already? Understanding this could happen, you bring the dog out on a short leash.. NO SNIFFING and quickly load up into the car which already has a door open. You put yourself one step ahead. You need to do that for your dog.

Once the dog IS amped up, all bets are off. A dog that climbs the leash (bites the handler) is often (not always) a different set of issues and circumstances and goes beyond reactivity and gets into the relationship of dog to handler.

One thing I will add is that if the owner KNOWS they created this then they can do their own behavior modification. It is REALLY important to KNOW you created this and to KNOW you may very well be adding to it. It is NOT EASY and I will be the first to say so!

If you have a reactive dog and you see a situation approaching do you clench your teeth? Do you tighten up? do you shorten the leash? Does your breathing change? Does your heart rate change? The dog KNOWS and FEELS all those changes and those changes almost guarantee reactivity. You need to (and this is the hard part) become literally a sea of calm. Totally. You need to relax and you need to convey a very "ah.. no big deal" attitude if you believe your dog is going to become reactive to something.

Now the OP also mentioned excitement at seeing squirrels. This is prey drive and comes from a different place in the dog's brain than reactivity to other dogs. Prey drive is handled differently than fear reactivity and the handler will have varying success with this depending on the level of drive in the dog and the ability of the handler to refocus that drive into another behavior (such as to a toy and a game of tug or to a moving competition level heel walking next to the handler). Stopping and letting the dog watch a squirrel can simply build prey drive making diversion and obedience much much more difficult to obtain.
 

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Wow. That's a WHOLE BUNCH of ideal, and a big load of mindful and watchful. And it unduly puts far too much onus on the handler to 'be proactive' if they have any hope of being successful at curbing reactivity.

Real life ain't like that.

Cats do unexpectedly saunter out from behind parked vehicles. Squirrels do instantly scurry from the base of tree trunks and telephone poles. Dogs do quickly appear in passing cars, at blind corners, and from behind hedges. We can't ALWAYS see things coming. Because that's, you know ... real life.
Yes it does put a lot on the handler. Absolutely. If you are Not going to be actively engaged in walking your dog.. seeing the squirrel before he does, knowing there are kids on bikes close by, paying attention.. then leave the dog home and go for a walk. I make no excuses for putting a lot on the handler. Walking a dog is still training. Pay attention. Be engaged and not looking at your phone, the sky and so forth.

I used to train horses. Trust me.. you can be absolutely that proactive and if you are riding a 3 year old with only a few sessions under saddle not doing so can cause a big wreck. At least a dog is a LOT easier!! If nothing else, you are standing on the ground!

Yes, stuff still happens. Being aware can cut an awful lot of it off at the pass. If you pay attention to your dog's ears and body language you will see he is aware of most things before you can see them.
 

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If you don't have any phobias, and admit to not understanding phobias, then I think it's safe to say that you don't have the capacity to really understand what you're talking about here.

You say "Here is what I see happen most often IF you have trained the behavior and proofed it (and it isn't a two week process it is weeks and weeks process.. training dogs is work). The dog has learned that SIT is safe. NOTHING bad happens when the dog sits. EVER. You are between the dog and whatever concerns him. You know what I most often see? A dog RELIEVED TO SIT AND FOCUS because it is SAFE to do so. "

But what if an off leash dog 15 feet away from mine & approaching is something "BAD" for him? He knows sit, stay, focus, and that I'm his safety net, but... when that dog comes within his comfort radius, there is NO way he can hold his sh** together. It isn't happening. the only way I can keep him SAFE is by keeping the distance he needs to be able to keep it together. That can't be done if he's being held in a 'sit stay focus' in one place, and if I correct him for breaking his "known commands" in this instance, all he learns is that I am now NOT safe either. Sure, I could get him to stay in that spot by popping his leash & "demanding" his compliance - but why in the world would I want to make myself even scarier that what he's already worried about? He's not being 'disobedient', he's freaking out. How is it you can't understand the difference?
 

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You're absolutely missing my point. All of them, actually. The first of which was that only timing and my dog being preoccupied in that second was what made the difference between a calm, low-key load-up and a total blowup. We have to move towards the road at the end of the driveway - so, you know, facing it - to reach the car. If it'd been a few seconds earlier and we'd been walking towards the car instead of pivoting to walk up to the door (during which my dog had himself a sniff while walking, the horror), we'd have seen the dog at the exact same time and no amount of hypervigilance or proactive handling would've stopped a blow-up. Shortened it? Sure. Prevented it? No way in Hades. I know my dog.

Funny though, how me seeing the dog before him didn't make me set him off with my body language. And yet, if he sees a dog before I do, he blows up despite absolutely no change in handling on my part. I agree that your body language CAN impact a dog's behavior, especially on lead, but it's sloppy to blame handling on even most emotionally-charged behaviors that can fall under the 'reactivity' umbrella.

Same with telling people they're the cause. It's only vaguely useful in some circumstances, because unless you can be right there showing them EXACTLY what they're doing that's impacting the reactivity, all it does is creating guilt and shame. And much of the time, the stuff the handler did to 'cause' it isn't even something active that they're doing every time they're handling the dog. In my case, most of it was issues with how I handled socializing Sam and not understanding when 'excitement' turns into 'frantic and stressed'. I realized and accepted that years ago and it'd done jack to help me work through his reactivity. Where did you explain what the OP did with her recently adopted dog, who already had fear issues when other dogs on-leash, to cause that reactivity, so they could work to change it? Because if that was your purpose, you should be able to point out specifically why you think the handler is causing the reactivity and offer suggestions for improving it.

It is literally impossible in the real world to pre-empt every single triggering event when dealing with emotionally-driven on-leash reactivity unless you live in a highly isolated area. It's not fair OR healthy for handlers to beat themselves up over that. It's far better to accept that stuff happens and learn how to let it go. You know what I'd do if I took every blow-up Sam had as a personal training failure that I could have prevented if I'd just been better, more alert, faster to react, etc? I'd have given up. Because that's exactly how I used to think in the early days of this becoming a problem, and exactly what I did. Good thing I learned not to beat myself up for the world not being totally in my control, because he gets more walks, more hikes, more attention, and is making way more progress than when I felt so ashamed in my training 'prowess' that I dreaded stepping out the front door with him.

I agree that a dog climbing the leash is a different class of issue altogether, but there are plenty of dogs labeled "reactive" who will nip, grab clothing, grab the leash and shake, etc. And I wouldn't be surprised if someone out there called a dog who went all the way to climbing the leash and landing a serious bite 'reactive'. My whole point was that it's an extremely broad term, used to mean different things to different people, and it's very clear that your experiences, 3GSD4IPO, with a dog that you label 'reactive' are extremely different from the experiences of many other people who have been working with 'reactive' dogs for years - their own and professionally.

My point, in short: You had a dog YOU call 'reactive', and are assuming that what worked for her will work for EVERY dog. It doesn't. You clearly had a dog that was NOT hugely emotionally driven by her triggers. That isn't what the vast majority of people working with dogs who get slapped with the 'reactive' label are dealing with, not by a long shot, and not at all what I'd assume a dog described as "scared and angry" and "in fight mode" to be dealing with. I'd take managing prey drive any day over what Sam goes through when he's triggered.
 
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