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Often when I first connect with reactivity clients, one of the first things I hear is that their dog's behaviour out on walks has made the time that they spend together unpleasant. When they leave the house, their dog is stressed and so are they. To add to that, they are also significantly stressed because they love their dog and feel guilty if they don't take it out.

We have been very conditioned as a society that dogs MUST be walked every day; if we don't we are failing our dogs. Well I'm here to tell you, that if a daily walk has become a stressful chore, for you and your dog, then it is okay to skip it!

Now, it is important to clarify, that dog's do require daily activity and enrichment. This article is not an excuse to forget that your dog exists for a week! The goal of this article is to provide you with a fresh perspective and alternative activities to enjoy with your reactive dog, ideally while you are working through the issue with a qualified trainer. I want you to stress less, because if you are taking the time to read this article, you clearly care for your dog. Living with a reactive dog is hard! Get in touch with a professional who can provide you with guidance and do not blame yourself. That helps absolutely no one!

When you begin the process of working through reactivity issues with a trainer, usually cortisol (stress hormone) levels will be high in your dog and possibly also in yourself. Often I will recommend that clients take a week off from walks, while they work on some prep training in their home. This allows for a break for both the owner and dog, so that their cortisol levels can drop, while they build a nice solid system of communication and value. I also recommend that during that week, they take a lot of time to just play with their dog, as well as provide mental enrichment options. Play is excellent both for your relationship with your dog, but also as a form of physical exercise.

Below I’ve compiled a list of a few different fun activities that you can try with your dog. Remember that dogs are individuals and we do not get to decide what they like or don’t like! You may need to try a few different options before you figure out what makes your dog tick. I also recommend rotating through activities and providing as much variety as you can so that they don’t become boring too quickly.

  • Play a game of tug. Let your dog win occasionally!
  • Throw a ball (but don’t over do it).
  • Scatter food/treats through your yard for an all natural snuffle mat.
  • Stuff a Kong/Toppl/Soda Pup toy with a dog friendly recipe (Google!). Freezing these is also an option for hot days or super smart dogs who need more of a challenge.
  • Google “DIY enrichment for dogs”. There are hundreds of budget ideas and the bonus is you get to have a little fun yourself being crafty.
  • Practise some tricks! You don’t need to aim for excellence (unless you want to of course), just have some fun teaching your dog something new.
  • Take your dog for a drive. Some dogs love to look out the window and watch/smell the world go by from the perceived safety of the car. *Always make sure your dog is safely secure in your vehicle

Everyone deserves to enjoy their dog! Reactive dogs are not bad dogs, and we encourage you to find ways to enrich your dogs life in ways that work for the both of you, while you work with a trainer! 

Remember, Best Life is always here if you need support with a reactive dog. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us, our training specialists are passionate about providing solutions for reactive dogs and their owners.



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