How can I safely walk my reactive large dog?

 How can they be so loving and cute with you then as soon as another dog comes along and they fluff up and hulk out? It’s something all owners with dogs that are prone to be more aggressive or dominant ask themselves. Your fluffy affectionate little angel turns into a beast. 

So, first off you need to know your breed🐶

All dogs are unique and with each breed comes even more distinction. Sometimes the dog that comes into your life just wants to be yours. They bond with you and your family and they have no interest in interacting with other dogs or people. Having a dog that’s aggressive or reactive towards other dogs can be stressful and come with a big learning curve.  

Growing up with Akita dogs, I’ve learned to be highly alert to my surroundings when I’m out and about. There have been countless times when I’ve had to alert other dog owners that my dog is aggressive and to catch their dog while they're barreling over to mine. Because not all dogs are docile and friendly and that’s okay.  When I’m out on a walk as soon as I see up ahead an off-leash dog I will stop and have my dog sit down then I alert the owner. It gives them time to catch their dog so we can pass without worry. Now don’t get me wrong, Akitas are wonderful companions, cuddly and with big personalities but very protective. They are well known for their power-posing and bear-hunting roots. Generally, if they do interact with other dogs the other dogs need to have a submissive disposition. 

Here are 3 things to keep in mind before taking your reactive dog out

1) The day of the week: If you’re looking for a relatively stress-free nature adventure I would try to avoid the weekend. Most people work Monday-Friday so their big outings tend to be on the weekend especially if it’s nice out!

2) The location: If you’re stuck with the weekend being your prime time then try and look up either a larger forest area so you can go off away from everyone or less popular ones usually they would be a little farther away from the city.

3) Time of day: I would either go bright and early or later in the evening. Of course, I know the daily walks are usually around the block or just wandering around the neighbourhood.  Try to avoid times when kids are going or getting out of school. Also, don’t go right after 5 pm, maybe wait till around 7 pm, avoiding the initial dog walkers. 

A tired dog is a happy dog

Keep your dog well-exercised. Regular exercise can help tire out reactive dogs and reduce their energy levels, making them easier to control on walks. Make sure your dog gets plenty of physical and mental stimulation through activities such as fetch, playing with toys, and going on long walks or runs.

Be cool, calm and collected

One of the most important pieces of advice is to remain calm as possible. Your pup will think something is wrong when you tense up since he or she feels your energy. Keep a couple of their favourite treats in your pocket if they are treat-oriented, or bring along their favourite toy if they are toy-oriented. Maintain a heel position and walk by others like nothing is wrong. Everything is fine. Often, dogs react aggressively because they're scared or want to protect you. The best thing you can do for them is to be consistent. Don’t forget to praise them immensely every time they walk by without reacting! A good boy or girl goes a long way ❤️

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