Off Leash Training and How To Handle Reactive Behavior.

This video contains essential easy-to-use techniques and strategies that have helped countless dog guardians like you achieve success with off-leash training and effectively manage their dog's reactivity.

Off-leash training is an invaluable skill that fosters trust between you and your pet while also allowing your dog to safely explore the world around them. In this video, we'll delve into the critical aspects of off-leash training, including reliable recall, building a strong bond, and maintaining clear communication with your dog. I'll provide you with step-by-step instructions to help you confidently enjoy off-leash adventures with your dog.

As a dog trainer, I've encountered many dogs with reactive behavior, and I understand the challenges it presents. That's why I'll be sharing my tried-and-tested tips for identifying and addressing the triggers behind your dog's reactivity. You'll learn about effective strategies like counter-conditioning, desensitization, and the importance of being patient and consistent in your training approach.

Throughout this video, I'll also discuss the essential tools and equipment for off-leash training, the vital role of positive reinforcement in shaping your dog's behavior, and the benefits of providing mental and physical stimulation to ensure a well-balanced and happy dog.

Whether you're a first-time dog guardian or an experienced trainer searching for fresh insights, this video on off-leash training and handling active behavior is packed with valuable information to help you and your dog succeed. So, don't miss out – watch now, and let's start transforming your dog's behavior together!

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43 Comments on “Off Leash Training and How To Handle Reactive Behavior.”

  1. so, by “managing the situation”, there’s an implication that after all these years with Inertia, you still don’t feel confident in off leash recall.

    1. I feel quite confident! The purpose of this video was to walk you through some of the process. And keep in mind the dogs are not robots and they need to be managed regardless of how reliable they are.

    2. Does anyone really. About the time you think you have them trained, they attack another dog or run out into the road and get hit by a car.

    3. “Managing” implies something that is ever changing. Pets are not stagnant, they evolve grow and learn constantly. I think that is the perfect word for it, because it means you recognize you need to change, grow and learn constantly to keep up with your dog and their needs too ❤

    4. Not necessarily. First, one should ALWAYS exercise caution. Even the BEST trained dog can be thrown by something really new for them. Rather be safe than sorry. Second, BREED plays a part. For example, SIGHT HOUNDS are bred to chase little furry critters. They are NOT bred to stop, look, and listen before running across the street while they’re chasing a furry little critter. I know of very well-trained sight hounds that were hit and killed because of that in-bred, “I MUST chase furry little critters” mentality. Now this is not to say that ALL sight hounds will react this way, but many WILL and until you know for sure which way your dog will react, don’t take them off leash and if they are of the I MUST chase the furry little critter ilk, don’t take them off lead–period. Third, PERSONALITY matters. I have a little dog that is fearful. She’s not HORRIBLY fearful, but she IS fearful. I will likely NEVER have her off-leash (no matter how confident I am) because dogs BOLT when they’re afraid. I don’t want her to bolt away. When a dog is fearful, the cerebral cortex is not “engaged”. They dog isn’t “thinking”. The dog is REACTING and escaping with his or her life (in their eyes). If something frightens her enough, training isn’t going to matter because she’ll be REACTING and not THINKING (her cerebral cortex is “offline” and pure basic instinct to save herself takes over). That doesn’t mean she’s not well-trained and a pleasure to be around. But I know her well enough to know that she could bolt if she’s fearful (as could ANY dog), so off leash isn’t safe for her (but call me a “bad” trainer if you must, but she’s my dog and I will make the decision about how best to keep her safe). And no, I won’t take her off leash in even “quiet” locations because you never know when a new dog, person, or car, or noisy machine may show up.

    1. Sure. The purpose of this video is to show long-term results. Inertia had some natural reactivity issues that are well documented. So if you want to see her in her early days you can. But keep in mind there is no quick fix to this so resolving issues like this in a single video would be unlikely. I have a zillion videos on my channel that will show you one act videos where we get some results and how to proceed forward if those are better suited for you with other dogs.

    2. Please look at Zak’s early days with Intertia, as she was dog reactive (and even snapped at Bree). In addition, when you see a positive trainer working with a “reactive” dog, you don’t see a whole lot. One of the ways positive training works is to keep the dog UNDER threshold (so that they are NOT reacting). In other words, a good positive trainer works at a distance where it “looks like” the dog isn’t reactive. The dog will look calm and will obey cues and take treats and won’t react. When a dog is in a panicked state, he or she is not going to learn anything. They only thing they’re going to do is eventually they’ll shut down when they can’t escape the scary situation. When that happens, the trainer that forces the dog over threshold will claim the dog is now no longer reactive. Then everybody applauds and the “trainer” takes a bow and receives accolades for “curing” the dog. That “trainer” has done NOTHING for the dog except make the dog more fearful in the long run. So you’ll claim “Well, Zak, that dog isn’t even reactive.” The dog just doesn’t look reactive because you keep the dog UNDER threshold so the dog can LEARN a new way to behave in scary situations.

    1. I know! Max is a high energy Husky GSD cross who is getting used to “leave it “ with the cat, the chickens and the goats BUT sees a rabbit or deer or squirrel and boom all leave it training is out the window 😬😳😕

    1. Really? Personally, I found the reality tv version very helpful as well as it allowed me to see the training from an everyday perspective as unexpected situations arose – which is what most of us dog owners go through on a daily basis.

  2. When I take Bandit for a walk, he tends to bark at people and other dogs. Really aggressive barking. When he was 6 months old, we were in Fl and on a walk. A pit bull came out of no where and tried to get him. He was on a leash, and I saw the young men, but not the Pit. I think they let him go on purpose. In that town, you have to have Pits on a leash. I had a harness on him and jerked him up before the pit could get him. I couldn’t pick him up because all I saw was teeth and growling when I reached to pick him up. He is still acting out because of that dog attack. Luckily, he wasn’t hurt, just a tug on his tail. He has mostly hair on his tail. I just kept him close to me and kept turning so the pit couldn’t get to him, not even worried about my safety. The dog didn’t want me, he just wanted my puppy. I know he was traumatized because we were walking at our house and a neighbor let their big standard poodle out as we were walking by. The dog ran right up to Bandit really fast and the scream Bandit let out was pitiful. Poor thing. I don’t think the dog would have hurt him, but he didn’t know that. Now when ever he sees another dog on our walks or even people he barks like crazy at them and you can see the hair stand up on his back. I don’t know if he’s trying to protect me or if he just hates other dogs. I don’t trust kids around him because I don’t trust him. I would die if he bit anyone. I still have a lot of work to do with him. I’m trying to socialize him, but it’s hard. I don’t know how other people’s dogs are and I don’t know how they would react to his barking. Their is one small dog, a poodle mix that he gets along with and would play with if she would let me know when she’s going to our dog park. I would only let him off leash if it was only Bandit and her dog. Any ideas, I’d greatly appreciate. Still trying the treats on our walks. It helps some. But I want him to be good without treats. Please help.

    1. I would love some help on this too 💕 my case is not as extreme, but I’d love to hear him answer you and see what might help me as well 🙏👍

    2. I’m not Zak, but I’ll give you my two cents worth. First, you probably shouldn’t be taking Bandit to the dog park if he’s reactive toward other dogs. Imagine being afraid of, say, tennis balls, and you are forced to go stand on a tennis court when balls are flying everywhere. Bandit must really be afraid at the dog park. Second, you can countercondition Bandit so he’s not so afraid of other dogs any more. Start by going to a place where you now there will be dogs, but where you can be at a distance that Bandit and see (or smell) the dogs but not react. Praise him for not reacting. Get him to do some “tricks” like “watch me”, “touch”, “sit”, etc. After a few minutes of success, go home. Come back a couple of days later and start where you were the first time. If Bandit is still under threshold, take a step closer. If Bandit is still under threshold, great! Do the same thing you did the first day–just a step closer to the dogs. If Bandit goes over threshold, don’t panic. Go back to the original distance (or even further if you have to) and work on getting him obey your cues and take treats (dogs that are frightened and nervous don’t take treats). Keep this pattern up. Come every few days, inching your way closer and closer. If, at any time, Bandit reacts, take a step (or two if you need to) back. How long will this take? There’s no good answer to that. Some dogs will progress pretty quickly, others will be much slower. The time it takes depends on a number of factors (such as Bandit’s temperament, Bandit’s level of fear, etc.). Don’t hurry the process. If you do, you’ll have to go back and start all over. At the end of the training, you should be able to play the “look at that game” (where you point to a dog and say look at that and Bandit looks at the dog) and Bandit doesn’t react. You should be able to be within a couple of feet of the dog. I’m like Zak, I don’t mind of my dogs look at and watch something or someone, I don’t want them barking or reacting in an inappropriate manner. So, by all means, play the “look at that” game. But that’s advanced stuff–don’t do that until Bandit can get really close to other dogs without reacting. Lavishly praise and treat Bandit when he is successful and doesn’t react to another dog. Bandit may never be a social butterfly who loves to play with other dogs (and a dog park may never be right for Bandit), but that’s okay. If he can walk by other dogs and be in their general proximity without reacting, it’s a huge win. As far as with people, one way to keep people from wanting to come up and pet Bandit is to put a muzzle on him (whether you think he needs one or not). That will definitely discourage all the “Is he friendly? Can I pet him?” crowd. You must desensitize Bandit to the muzzle first (there are many great You Tube videos around on how to do that). Even kids won’t want to approach if he’s wearing a muzzle. It may be a good idea to use desensitization and counterconditioning with children as well. Good luck and I hope you found this helpful.

    3. If you have friends with chill dogs, set up walks with them. Going for a long walk in the woods with other friendly dogs is fun for my dog. They seem to bond out on the pack walk and then you may introduce them and hopefully they’ll get along!

    1. In this video, the one Inertia is wearing is 30 feet long and Veronica’s is 50 feet! We have lots of different lengths. I find 30’ to be a good starter length to see how you like it. They’re made of biothane

  3. This has inspired me to give teaching “heel” another try with my dog and reward her a lot more often in the early stages, as she finds heel so dull/difficult to do (field bred springer)

  4. Great video! Thanks for showing that training can look & be FUN 🙌 The little tips you drop about exercising them prior to training, capturing the behaviours you like, and using the long line are great. I’ve never understood this notion that using a long line must mean your dog isn’t trained, or that you don’t “trust them”. It’s our job as their guardian to keep them safe! I’ve mentioned it before, but one of my favourite activities with my dog is hiking. She’s been fully off-leash (no long line) and recalled from many animals on hikes including bears without a problem. Even with that, I often use a long line when I hike out of respect for the people around me, wildlife during certain seasons, and also my own peace of mind 😂Long lines do NOT mean your dog is untrained! 👏

  5. I have a question 🙏 we recently moved to an apartment and so we don’t have a yard anymore. We are in Canada and so snow and cold weather was hard to adjust to when we have to walk her now instead of a yard for her to run around in. We found a nearby dog park that we hope to use now that things are thawing out, but she is very reactive to people and dogs and it’s hard to train her on leash because of her energy. She’s only a 20lb dog but she needs more exercise and can’t really play too energetically inside because of noise and space. We both work full time (my husband from home) but we do our best to train her when we can, even during short potty breaks.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to make excuses I just feel a little lost as to how to get her energy out before walks when that’s the only real time she gets to go outside (and dog parks are hard because she can’t go before every walk, plus she still struggles with reactive behavior, especially on leash). Is there any way you suggest we work toward a solution? I really do want to what’s best for her.

    1. Mental stimulation maybe!?
      My dog gets trick training and find it in the house with his breakfast and treats . He loves learning new tricks. I use cups and hide a piece of cheese under one of them for him to sniff out.
      Also hide some throughout the house for him to sniff out.
      I have friends with friendly dogs for him to wrestle with as well.

    2. I was going to suggest hiding treats in the house and having the dog find them or the dogs actual food Dog parks are not a great place for any dog in my opinion for sure not if the dog is in training

  6. Hey Zak! I love your content. Im curious, how would you handle high arousal in high energy breeds? Its probably one thing I struggle with as a trainer especially with my service dog in training who lately seems to be in states of high arousal.

    1. I give lots of advice throughout my dog training content on YouTube and lots of demonstrations with extremely high energy dogs. I would recommend checking that out.

    2. @Zak George’s Dog Training Revolution Ill have to look for it! I dont recall seeing any but then again I dont think ive done a dive through your videos lately!

  7. The best thing I’ve found about your training methods is that you can do it anywhere at any time, very casually. Like you said, it’s like you’re playing with your dog, but they’re getting trained at the same time. Yes, it’s not as quick as some other methods, but it works, and it’s fun. When I first got my dog from a shelter (Husky Shepard mix), she was wild! Barking at every little thing, lunging at cars, hyper reactive to other dogs, and pulling so much my back would be in bits. Still, I took her on walks every day, and little by little, she got so much better. In fact, a neighbour got a new dog, and she stopped me in the street, and asked for advice. She said she noticed how much I “tamed my dog down” lol. Anyway, it was all because of your videos. THANK YOU! 🐕‍🦺

  8. I was recommended your channel from an upload from almost a year ago by American Standard Dog Training who basically said if I’m a snowflake who doesn’t wanna hurt my dog to train him, come to your channel for bs. I instantly got “god guns n beer” grift vibes from him n decided to actually check out your channel. Got my husky pup when he was about 4 months but he had health issues that we had to help him overcome before starting his training. He’s 8 months now. Healthy as a roaming Buffalo….and pulls on the leash like one too lol. I’m excited to explore your channel.

  9. I’m sorry but I have 2 very reactive bonded dogs and although I love Zaks channel his methods do not work with all dogs especially if like my dogs treats and toys really don’t mean a thing to them. But with the help of dog daddy’s methods I’m finally have some genuine improvements in both of my dogs.

    1. The methods work however people have unrealistic expectations sometimes. I totally understand how desperate it can feel at times. However, using methods that are very aggressive on dogs will create new problems that will emerge later most likely. Good luck to you.

  10. Inertia isn’t in a focused heel on a crowded street, so it’s not impressive /s
    Seriously though, Inertia looks so happy! Heeling should be a game, just like every other “trick” we teach our dogs.

  11. Zak have you done a video on how to deal with an off leash dog coming up to your anxious reactive dog (who might be perfectly well trained in terms of heel, sit, stay, etc but the fear overrides all commands)? I don’t just want to avoid situations because that doesn’t seem to improve anything.

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