Enlightened by Dogs Podcast

EBD146 Trigger Exposure is the Worst Way to Help Reactive Dogs

Trigger Exposure is the Worst Way to Help Reactive Dogs

How can you truly help your reactive dog?

I feel really passionate about this topic. Why? Because I hear so many stories of dog moms and dog families struggling with reactive dog training that just doesn’t work for them.

Often, the advice from the dog training world isn’t helpful. It can result in dog moms feeling demoralized, guilty, or even like failures. But I want you to know that it doesn’t have to be this way!

In this episode of Enlightened By Dogs, Kathy shares a new approach to reactive training and the story of Ros and her two reactive Vizslas, Phoebe and Myrtle. Ros thought she was doing her best to help them with traditional training, but it was only when she took a more contemporary approach that they could truly live a safe, calm, and happy life together.

In this episode:

  • A BPA member’s journey from reactive to safe, calm, and happy
  • The challenges of life with a reactive dog
  • Why reward-based trigger conditioning training fails
  • How your emotions affect your dog’s behavior
  • What embracing trust could do for your partnership

Read the blog post on this topic.


“Creating a circle of safety and trust is what helps our dogs to accept all things.”

“Exposing our reactive dogs to their triggers is the worst way to help them.”

“When we stay calm, present, and are a loving leader and a solid role model, our dogs seem to magically respond by calming down and following our lead.”

“I want to inspire you to rethink the old, outdated methods around repeated exposure, hyper-vigilance, and getting dogs used to things that trigger them by distracting them from how they really feel.”

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6 Responses

  1. Well, you could’ve used my name instead of Roz’s name in this podcast. Two years’ worth of treats when we see a trigger✅ And then a dog appears out of nowhere and BAM! My guy lunges and barks.
    I’m constantly on the lookout for his triggers and so is he. Not a fun way to take a walk.
    I want to sign up for your academy TODAY! I know that’s impossible, but I want to do this the next time you have an opening.

  2. I agree wholeheartedly, trigger exposure is the worst way to help an over reactive dog. Been there, done that. Doesn’t work. It’s definitely a way to guarantee your dog will continue to be reactive.

  3. Does this method mean I will never really be able to take my dog out into the world? I currently feel trapped in my home with my reactive dog, and would be very depressed if I can never travel with him in the future. I guess what I’m asking is if this technique will always require avoiding triggers that exist out there, or can any progress be made in his response to triggers so that eventually our world can open up to beyond our home?

    1. Hi Melissa, it’s for now, not forever. Did you listen to the podcast? You’ll hear a bit about one of my students and how they enjoy traveling and walking anywhere they like. 🙂

  4. My rescue papilloma is reactive. I have him now about 3years. He has learned to trust me and has improved.
    He likes and trusts my neighbor and when she has him he is not reactive at all!
    I don’t understand this about him.
    Can you explain?
    Thank you Kathy.

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