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Categories: Fear Aggression

Q. I have a GSD who can be quite reactive when on-leash and who tends to ‘check out’ on walks. I’m wondering whether a prong collar would help with this kind of behavior?
I have a GSD who can be quite reactive when on-leash and who tends to ‘check out’ on walks. I’ve used a number of Michael Ellis DVDs for training so far and off-leash he has good engagement, recall and is not particularly reactive around other dogs.

It feels like I lose all engagement once he is on the leash. I am currently using a check chain, which is helping to a degree with his pulling but nothing I do (pop the leash, walk another direction, ask him to ‘watch’) helps when it comes to reacting to another dog or pulling if he is in an energetic mood. We have had improvements: he has stopped barking at other dogs and is pulling less, but I’m wondering whether a prong collar would help with this kind of behavior? I want one to help with the pulling but will it also help to improve engagement on the leash as I think his reactivity is mostly fear-driven? In off-leash situations he tends to run away from anything he is uncertain of. Is there anything else I could be doing to help?

A. Young GSDs often go through this leash reactivity phase and if you don't handle it properly it can become a long term issue.

For young dogs I don't expect engagement on walks but I do not want reactivity/aggressive behavior. If you handle it the wrong way or just leave it as is the problem usually become more pronounced and can become a habit.

I would suggest watching our Leash Reactivity video would put the actual formal expectations for engagement on a walk on hold right now. If the behavior is fear driven then it's not possible for him to engage with you during those times, lack of confidence will override engagement and if you are trying to leash pop him at these times it may interfere with your training relationship. A prong collar may help but a small number of dogs it can actually amplify the reactive response. Until you try it there is no way to know how he will react.

I'd keep your engagement and formal training sessions in a location that you know he's not going to have to deal with other dogs right now and work on the reactivity separately. As he gains confidence and understanding of your expectations things should get easier for both of you.

Some folks use a slip collar/Dominant dog collar and some get good results with a prong.
  
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