Masterdog logo

Reactive Dog Training vs. Regular Dog Training

Reactive dog training may just be what your furry friend needs

Share this story


Training your dog is essential for fostering good behaviour and ensuring a harmonious relationship between you and your pet. However, not all dogs require the same training approach. Reactive dog training and regular dog training serve different purposes and utilise unique techniques. Understanding these differences is crucial for addressing your dog’s specific needs. This guide will compare reactive dog training with general dog training, highlighting the unique approaches and techniques used for reactive dogs.

What is Regular Dog Training?

Regular dog training focuses on teaching basic commands and manners to dogs of all temperaments. This training includes:

  • Obedience Training: Teaching commands like sit, stay, come, and heel.
  • House Training: Establishing routines for bathroom breaks.
  • Socialisation: Introducing the dog to various people, animals, and environments to ensure they are comfortable in different situations.
  • Manners: Addressing behaviours such as jumping, barking, and leash pulling.

What is Reactive Dog Training?

Reactive dog training is specialised training for dogs that exhibit intense reactions to certain stimuli, such as other dogs, people, or specific environments. These reactions can include barking, lunging, growling, or even aggression. The goal of this type of dog training is to manage and modify these behaviours through targeted techniques.

Key Differences

  1. Focus and Goals:
    • Regular Dog Training: Aims to establish general obedience and good manners, suitable for all dogs.
    • Reactive Dog Training: Focuses on managing specific triggers and modifying reactive behaviours, tailored for dogs with reactivity issues.
  2. Techniques Used:
    • Regular Dog Training: Utilises positive reinforcement, consistency, and repetition to teach commands and manners.
    • Reactive Dog Training: Employs specialised techniques such as counter-conditioning, desensitisation, and controlled exposure to address reactivity.
  3. Training Environment:
    • Regular Dog Training: Often conducted in group classes or at home, where the focus is on general obedience and socialisation.
    • Reactive Dog Training: Typically involves more controlled settings, possibly with one-on-one sessions to manage specific triggers and ensure the dog’s safety.
  4. Trainer Expertise:
    • Regular Dog Training: Conducted by trainers who specialise in general obedience and manners.
    • Reactive Dog Training: Requires trainers with experience and expertise in behaviour modification and handling reactive dogs safely.

Techniques for Reactive Training

  1. Counter-Conditioning:
    • This technique involves changing the dog’s emotional response to a trigger. For example, if a dog reacts negatively to other dogs, the trainer might pair the sight of another dog with a positive experience, like a favourite treat.
  2. Desensitisation:
    • Gradually exposing the dog to the trigger at a low intensity and slowly increasing exposure as the dog becomes more comfortable. This helps the dog become less reactive over time.
  3. Controlled Exposure:
    • Carefully managing the dog’s environment to prevent overwhelming situations. This might involve keeping a safe distance from triggers and gradually decreasing the distance as the dog’s behaviour improves.
  4. Management Strategies:
    • Implementing tools and strategies to prevent reactive episodes. This can include using head halters, harnesses, and avoiding high-stress environments until the dog is better trained.

Benefits of Reactive Training

  • Improved Behaviour: Helps reactive dogs become calmer and more manageable.
  • Enhanced Safety: Reduces the risk of aggressive incidents, ensuring the safety of the dog and others.
  • Stronger Bond: Builds trust and understanding between the owner and the dog, improving their relationship.
  • Better Quality of Life: Enables dogs to enjoy more activities and social interactions, leading to a happier and more fulfilled life.


To summarise, while regular dog training focuses on general obedience and manners, reactive dog training addresses specific behavioural issues related to reactivity. Understanding the differences and employing the right techniques can significantly improve the behaviour and quality of life for reactive dogs. If you have a reactive dog, consider seeking specialised reactive dog training to help your pet become calmer and more confident in various situations.



For professional dog training services, contact Master Dog today, and take the first step towards a more harmonious relationship with your dog.

Get a personal call back from Robin