Dog Opposition Reflex: What Is It & Why Care?

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Dog Opposition Reflex

You want to teach your furry friend how to walk properly on a leash, and while looking for the best way to train them, you’ve come across the term “opposition reflex,” and you wonder what it is.

Or you’ve simply heard from other dog owners about this and are curious to learn more?

Whatever the case, this article will explain everything you need to know about a dog’s opposition reflex.

Table of Contents

What is a Dog's Opposition Reflex & Why Does it Happen?

Discovered by a Russian scientist Ivan Pavlov (the same person who discovered the classical condition), a dog’s opposition reflex is an instinctive reaction to physical pressure. It was initially called “Freedom Reflex,” though it technically isn’t really a reflex and is believed to link to a dog’s “fight, freeze, or flight” instincts.

This natural behavior can manifest in various ways, and you’ve probably seen it in your pup. For example, when you pull your fido towards you, they will pull back in the opposite direction. They are not being disobedient or stubborn, but it simply is how they will naturally respond to being pulled.

Note, though, that the opposition reflex is not the only factor causing your pup to pull on the leash. Dogs may also pull because of excitement, wanting to sniff the flower that caught their eye, following a scent, or simply being distracted by a passing car. So the next time your pooch pulls on walks, don’t just jump to the conclusion that it’s their opposition reflex.

Why Care About the Opposition Reflex in Dogs?

It’s easy to understand why we should care about the opposition reflex in dogs. Whenever your pup pulls on a leash, it not only causes them discomfort but also puts stress on their neck and trachea. Pulling too hard or for too long can put immense strain on those areas, leading to a potentially dangerous situation.

Plus, it’s also crucial to remember that the opposition reflex is their natural response and will not go away by simply yelling or punishing them. In fact, this could cause more stress to your furry friend and make the situation worse in the long run.

Solutions for Dog Opposition Reflex

#1. Stop Walking When Your Dog Pulls

The simplest solution to this problem is to stop walking each time your pup pulls. This will help your fido understand that pulling will not get them anywhere, and they will soon learn that if they want to keep going, the leash needs to stay loose.

#2. Teach Your Canine to Yield to Leash Pressure

The second thing you can do is train your dog to yield to leash pressure. All this means is that when the leash becomes taut, they should immediately turn towards you rather than pull back against it. This will help your canine understand the concept of pressure and release, which is the basis for dog training.

#3. Teach Your Dog Recall or Heel

Finally, you can teach your pooch recall or heel. This will ensure your four-legged friend always walks by your side, not in front of you, so the leash stays loose during walks.