Great Places to Walk Your Reactive Dog


There are days when you meet dogs around every corner and off-leash dogs come barreling at your reactive dog and your dog is just freaking out. Sometimes your dog(s) just need a break so their cortisol levels can settle or you’re trying to train where your dog won’t be overstimulated and it just isn’t possible in your neighborhood.

There’s the option of walking super late at night or early in the morning. However, Mr. N and I are not morning people/dogs. And I don’t always feel comfortable taking Mr. N out by myself at night. So I’ve found some good places to walk a reactive dog during the day without running into potential triggers.

On days when I really don’t feel like dealing with off-leash dogs (and their owners), I take Mr. N to a nearby university. They usually have a fair amount of maintenance and security people wandering around and I think the campus’ leash law is enforced. I think I’ve only seen an off-leash dog there once. There are also very few dogs there to begin with. The majority of our visits, we haven’t seen any. Obviously, this is not ideal for dogs who are reactive to people.

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Can you spot Mr. N?

Industrial areas are also usually dog-free. It is not a very scenic walk but other dogs are scarce, not to mention the people. You just have to keep an eye out for heavier traffic and especially trucks. Sometimes those areas lack sidewalks. I haven’t found that to be a huge problem here though.

Also the area around our airport rarely has dogs and not that many people. Β In Portland, the airport area is mostly industrial with a few airport hotels. If your dog is not sensitive to loud noises, this is a great place for avoiding other dogs and people.

Which places do you go to walk your reactive dog(s) or if you just want a little peace and quiet?

Mr. N watching the ROTC practice




34 Responses

  1. Lauren Miller

    March 6, 2015 8:13 am

    I've been going to the campus (over here), too! I haven't see any dogs yet! Cortisol breaks are very important for Phoenix. She can't handle too many days in a row at Thousand Acres… unless I go at the crack of dawn when no one is there.

  2. genevievepetrillo

    March 6, 2015 11:33 am

    We're in an apartment complex, and leash laws are MOSTLY respected by the tenants. Of course, Cupcake is also reactive to door decorations, ladders, golf carts, pumpkins, street signs….. Yeah…. It's a minefield… πŸ™‚

    • Tenacious Little Terrier

      March 6, 2015 5:39 pm

      That sounds difficult to deal with! Mr. N is mainly leash reactive to dogs and he's a bit motion sensitive (bikes, skateboards etc) if they're right by him. He is a lot better though than he used to be.

  3. Emma

    March 6, 2015 12:23 pm

    It is sad, but we are lucky most folks around here don't walk their dogs much, so we rarely run into other dogs. The exception is in the spring when everyone walks dogs that we never see, but it only lasts a couple weeks. We are also big early birds, so we are out early before most folks are ready to get out. Mr. N sure does look small in that first pic!

  4. SlimDoggy

    March 6, 2015 1:42 pm

    Good ideas. We are lucky enough that we have a lot of state park area nearby with several paths we can take – most of which are dog free when we go in the morning.

  5. Beth

    March 6, 2015 3:05 pm

    Good suggestions! We usually walk in our little "city" a couple time a week when there's not snow blocking all of the sidewalks because there are no dogs around all of the shops and they stores aren't pet-friendly, so the only dogs we might see are waiting for their owners in their cars. Mr. N looks so collegiate in that first picture. I took Barley up to campus with me once when I needed to put a library book int he book drop–she was so excited to see the place that I come home smelling like every day.

  6. Janet Keefe

    March 6, 2015 8:18 pm

    That's so great that you have some alternatives, where you can relax a bit more. We live in a rural area, so we have a lot of quiet places to walk right from our house. Though we've still run into off leash dogs! I am lucky that I work from home a couple of days a week, so during the week in the middle of the day we're less likely to see anyone when we walk.
    Jan, Wag 'n Woof Pets

  7. Hawkeye BrownDog

    March 6, 2015 8:56 pm

    Hi Y'all!

    Living in really rural areas, I'm only on leash when my Human feels she needs the practice. On rare occasions, usually when we're traveling, there are leash laws and I have to exercise her on a leash.

    Glad to see your going to University, Mr N.

    Y'all come on by,
    Hawk aka BrownDog

  8. Jackie Bouchard

    March 6, 2015 9:15 pm

    Good tips! We aren't morning people/dog either so early morning is out for us! I usually like to go around 8:30 before it gets too hot out, but there seem to be lots of others with the same idea. I might just have to bite the bullet and start going a bit later so we'll see fewer dogs.

    One place we like to go is the beach, but you have to go before 9 a.m. They seem to really enforce the leash laws there as I've only seen one dog off-leash there. If we get up early enough, sometimes we'll head down there around 8. There are usually a good number of dogs, but as long as they're on leash and not lunging at Rita, she does okay.

  9. Talent Hounds

    March 7, 2015 4:36 am

    We go to the park and there are so many dogs illegally off leash. Kilo panics and is subdued -he is much more reactive if there is only one dog passing on the street- I think he thinks he can take them and maybe he had a bad experience attacking a bigger dog in the park so that makes him nervous. We do CBT/desensitization training in the park and outside PetSmart- small progress- we also walk parallel and gradually closer to other dogs I know with friends. He now likes walking with Stan, an older Border Terrier, and actually butt sniffs etc. He attacks strangers too so I have had to stop trying to socialize him in places where people may walk past close or lean over to pat. He looks so cute and is so sweet until..sometimes he snaps mentally and literally. Lucky he is small with small teeth. He particularly despises the postman no matter what I do. Such a shame as such a love bug most of the time XS

    • Tenacious Little Terrier

      March 7, 2015 4:41 am

      Poor Kilo. Sounds like his issues stem from fear. Mr. N's are from over-excitement. It's hard with small dogs sometimes. We get mobbed by people (and kids) almost everywhere we go and people are so grabby!

  10. K9s OverCoffee

    March 8, 2015 11:36 pm

    Walking on campus is a great idea to avoid off-leash dogs! Wish we had one near-by…we used to deal with off-leash/stray dogs on a regular basis in our previous neighborhood. Although we still live in rural NC, we recently moved to a different neighborhood where people actually walk their dogs on leashes! I'm very excited & happy about this improvement. It just makes me more relaxed on our walks.

  11. Cathy Armato

    September 8, 2016 5:11 pm

    Great ideas! It never occurred to me to visit one of the colleges just to walk. Icy & I visited a few colleges for our stress buster therapy dog visits though. I need to find places like this now that we've moved back to NY
    Love & biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

  12. Rugby James

    September 12, 2016 2:59 pm

    What a GREAT post!! I love to walk Rugby in big cemeteries that have nicely paved roads. We rarely run into either people or loose dogs, and that's absolutely necessary for my reactive Rugby James!!

  13. Luna Lupus

    January 18, 2017 3:34 pm

    This is literally my #1 problem with Bailey; finding places where we could go for a relaxing walk. We live smack in the middle of the city and some days it's so heavy. We have a leash law but nobody abides it and the law enforcement isn't really doing anything. We still have a long way to go. Normally I just take her to big open spaces, meadows and fields, or we go hiking in the morning when I know we won't run into too many people. Great post!!!

  14. Fashion Beyond Forty

    January 18, 2017 5:58 pm

    This is a great idea – our college – especially during off campus times is a perfect place for a dog walk with a reactive dog!
    We are lucky to live in the country so we have a lot of wide open public spaces to go.

  15. Dash Kitten

    January 18, 2017 7:36 pm

    Reactive dogs seem to be a hot topic! I am glad there is such a lot of positve help for people, as it must be a worry for an inexperienced person coping with a reactive dog (especially one they love a lot and want to help).

    Thanks for a great post and, you know, I nearly didn't see Mr. N!!!!!! *sheepish look *

  16. Bryn Nowell

    January 18, 2017 9:54 pm

    Great post! We often take Bean and Yoda for walks on the college campus near our home for the same reasons. We actually have five college campuses within 10 minutes of our home, so we sometimes visit other schools to spice things up.

    I hadn't thought of the industrial park, but it makes perfect sense.

    When we visit my parents, we take the dogs for walks near the fishing docks. Lots of interesting smells (especially at low tide), birds to watch, but very few non fishing humans and rarely dogs.

  17. Ruth Epstein

    January 18, 2017 10:09 pm

    Great post, We only have dog parks or walking along the streets but cannot complain as she is a really good girl unless a puppy starts bugging her LOL and then the grumpiness as I call it comes out.

  18. Beth Patterson

    January 18, 2017 10:31 pm

    Unfortunately for us, Theo reacts to people, dogs, and vehicles. The good news is there are a few acres of woods near us. I'm leery in the tall grass season because of ticks (for me, Theo is protected), but sometimes it is worth the risk

  19. MattieDog

    January 19, 2017 12:57 am

    Mr. N looks so teeny tiny on those steps!! We go to a big 500 acre park that's by our house – this helps keep Mookie calm, particularly as his biggest trigger is buses. Lulu is also reactive but not at the barking level, more so the low grrrr and if I walk them together, her low growl gets Mookie on the over protective side!

  20. Club-Doggie

    January 19, 2017 3:45 am

    Great ideas! We're lucky, because we have a big outdoor (fenced) field we can train in, but that is not always an option. These are great, safe, options for training a dog who needs a little less (dog) stimulus!

  21. Montecristo Travels

    January 19, 2017 1:34 pm

    I took Monte to an off leash dog park ONCE … never again. I do mean the kind where all the dogs run about CRAZy like… he is so good and only reactive with kids so we keep him away from them as much as possible but it still happens. I wish more parents taught their kid that just because a dog is little it doesn't mean he's a toy. *sigh*

  22. Karen H.

    January 19, 2017 2:24 pm

    I have a couple of very reactive dog walking clients. There is a park close to their house I would love to take them to, but don't want to encounter other dogs. We take the street in the other direction. Although it isn't as scenic as the park, there is much less chance of encountering other dogs.

  23. Sadie and Co.

    January 19, 2017 3:53 pm

    The campus is a great idea. Unfortunately, we don't have many options. We don't tend to meet too many other dogs on our walks and Henry only seems to be offended by certain dogs. The traffic is what drives me crazy.


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