Where to walk a reactive dog (Solo dog walk locations)

a brown and white dog alone on a hillside

If your new client tells you that their dog is a ‘bit reactive’ it’s wise to walk them solo and in locations which reduce the chance of them becoming reactive.

If you want to brush up on what a reactive dog is, check out our article here; What is a reactive dog?

Choosing where to walk

This will be dependent on where the dog lives and the surrounding area, (and also affected by whether you have a vehicle or not)

Let’s look at some common locations and set out the pros and cons of each when it comes to walking a reactive dog.

Enclosed Fields


1. Walking a reactive dog in an enclosed field allows the dog to get the exercise they need without the added stress of encountering other dogs or people in an open area.

2. It’s a safe and secure environment for you and the dog, allowing you both feel more relaxed.


1. The environment may be too small and restrictive, leading to a lack of mental stimulation for regular walks.

3. The cost of hiring a field may be an additional cost that the owner may not agree to pay for.


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Public Parks


1. Walking a reactive dog in a public park allows the dog to become accustomed to being around their triggers as long as you can maintain a safe distance.

2. Public parks are usually large, open spaces which provide ample opportunities to change direction and avoid triggers.


1. If the dog is too reactive, being around multiple triggers at once can be stressful for the dog, which can lead to further behavioural issues.

2. Public parks are a shared space used by people who are not dog owners and who may not respect you or your dog’s space.



1. Woodlands often offer a wide variety of tracks and trails which can be used to dodge and avoid other walkers and dogs.

2.Woodlands are usually less populated with walkers therefore you’ll likely encounter fewer triggers on your walk.


1. Dogs walked in woodlands are more likely to be off lead and excitable due to the environment.

2. Dogs who are not used to a woodland environment may become more stressed at the unfamiliarity.

Street Walks


1. Walking a reactive dog on the street can help to carefully desensitize the dog to new people, animals, and environments if managed correctly.

2. Walking on the streets can mean the walk starts straight from the front door and doesn;t require any travel which may be either stressful or exciting for the dog.


1. Walking a reactive dog on the street can be dangerous, as they may become overly excited and react in unpredictable ways.

2. Walking a reactive dog on the street can be stressful for both the dog and you, as they may be exposed to a lot of stimuli that could cause them to become overwhelmed.

On lead parks


1. A reactive dog can be walked in on lead parks if they are properly managed, as it provides a safe and secure environment for them to be in.

2.On lead parks gives you the opportunity to have a relaxed on lead walk knowing that it’s unlikely that you’ll be approached by an off lead dog.


1. It can be difficult to keep a reactive dog under control in a busy park, even an on lead one, and they may become over-aroused or anxious.

2. On lead parks can be stressful if not everyone is following the rules. Just one off lead dog can cause chaos.

The Beach


1. Being in an open environment with space to move around can help you feel more relaxed and secure, knowing that you can see all the potential triggers in plain sight.

2. Since there is plenty of space, it is easier to maintain a safe distance from other dogs and people and to keep your dog under control.


1. Walking a reactive dog on the beach can be challenging if there are too many people or animals around.

2. The beach can also be a dangerous environment for a reactive dog. The sand and water can be hazardous if your dog is not properly supervised. Additionally, the waves can cause your dog to become overstimulated or even panic if they are not used to them.



  1. These are an ideal peaceful environment with few distractions, and where dogs are allowed it’s normally on lead only.
  2. They are usually quiet places with very few noises for sound reactive dogs.


  1. Grave markers and statues can be a trigger for a reactive dog as unfamiliar items.
  2. Some people find the walking of dogs in these areas inappropriate even if they’re allowed to be walked there.

Industrial parks


1. Industrial parks are usually large and open, offering plenty of space to walk your dog.

2. Walking in an industrial park can reduce the risk of your dog reacting to other dogs, as there are usually few other people and animals in these areas.


1. Industrial parks may have a lot of noise, which could cause your dog to become more reactive.

2. Industrial parks may contain a variety of dangerous objects, such as heavy machinery, that could harm your dog if they become too curious.

Top Tips for walking a reactive dog

1. Make sure the dog is wearing an appropriate collar or harness and that they are properly fitted to prevent escape. Escape proof harnesses can help.

2. Try and walk with a loose lead. Any tension on the lead might be interpreted by the dog as a need to be hyperaware, so keeping a loose lead will promote calmness.

3. Avoid walking in areas without room to move away, or has blind bends or narrow pathways.

4. If the dog starts to be reactive, barking or lunging etc. and appears over threshold, then try to remain calm and move away from whatever is triggering the behaviour. This is a time for avoidance, not a time for training.

5. Use positive reinforcement and reward the dog for making good choices. Reward the behaviour you want, which with a reactive dog is calmness.

6. Take frequent breaks in walks to allow your dog to relax and release some tension. Let them sniff, play with a tuggy toy or have a jog with them (if you’re so inclined!)

7. Avoid direct contact with other dogs and people if possible. Change direction, step off the path or, if necessary, call out to the other dog owner to pop their dog on a lead, or warn them that yours doesn’t want to play.

8. Make sure you act as the dog’s advocate. This means acting in the dog’s best interests so if you’d like the person walking towards you to recall their dog and pop them on a lead, call out to them and ask politely. Use your voice because your dog can’t.

9. Have patience and be consistent in your approach.

Why not read our article about The yellow dog scheme UK next?

Reactive dogs are typically anxious dogs so why not try some relaxing music for when they’re left alone;


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