What Is A Reactive Dog? (TOP 5 Tips)

Reactivity: Reactivity is commonly confused with aggression. Dogs that are reactive overreact to certain stimuli or situations. Genetics, lack of socialization, insufficient training to learn self-control, a frightening experience, or a combination of these can cause reactivity, and fear is typically the driving force.

Contents

What are the signs of a reactive dog?

Symptoms of Reactive Behaviors in Dogs

  • Barking.
  • Body tense and low or forward.
  • Hiding.
  • Growling.
  • Intense stare.
  • Licking of lips or muzzle.
  • Looking away.
  • Lunging.

Can a reactive dog be cured?

Can my adult reactive dog be cured? Dogs of any age can start training to improve their reactivity. You do need to keep in mind that the longer a behavior has been ingrained, the longer it will take to retrain the dog.

Is my dog reactive or excited?

A highly aroused dog will be outwardly very excited. Some dogs may show just an open mouth grin with tongue hanging out, and might be unable to settle. Other dogs may be panting, jumping up, or vocalizing incessantly. They may also become grabby, or mouthy, may chatter their teeth, or you may notice full-body shaking.

At what age do dogs become reactive?

Dog-Reactive Puppy Young dogs that show reactivity usually start this behavior somewhere between 6 and 12 months of age. The earlier your pup shows reactive tendencies, the more worried you should be.

Is a reactive dog an aggressive dog?

Reactivity is not aggression, but can escalate. Resource guarding may involve protection of people, toys, beds, or food. Animal behaviorists can help address the issues that cause aggression.

How do you calm a reactive dog?

6 Ways to Calm Your Reactive Dog

  1. Set Up a Routine. It’s not something dog owners think of very often or are even aware of, but dogs absolutely crave routine.
  2. Get Essential Equipment.
  3. Counter Conditioning.
  4. Household Changes.
  5. Body Language.
  6. Sign Up for a Behavior Rehab Class.

How do I desensitize my reactive dog?

The desensitization process works by initially exposing a dog to very low levels of the problem stimulus. Once the dog becomes accustomed to the low level stimulus, we very slowly increase its intensity. Over time, our dog will learn to tolerate and be calm at even higher levels of the reactive stimulus.

How do you socialize a reactive dog?

Keep your dog close to you when passing others, turning corners, and going through doors. Leave your dog alone while she’s eating if she’s aggressive around her food. Avoid petting your dog in situations that are triggering to her. Ask people not to approach and request that they control their dogs.

How do you walk a reactive dog?

6 Tips for Walking a Reactive Dog

  1. Set Off With a Calm Frame of Mind.
  2. Avoid Triggers When Walking a Reactive Dog.
  3. Turn Triggers Into Positive Experiences.
  4. Enlist the Help of a Friend.
  5. Keep Walks Fun and Interesting.
  6. Don’t Be Afraid to Stand Up For Your Dog.

What percentage of dogs are reactive?

In my estimation, 75% of dogs are wary of unfamiliar dogs. SEVENTY FIVE PERCENT. That is a huge number.

How do you introduce a puppy to a reactive dog?

Walk both dogs in the same direction on opposite sides of a wide street. For dog-reactive dogs, you’ll need more space than with dog-selective dogs. Sometimes, it’s easiest to have the dog-reactive dog in back so she can keep her eyes on the new dog. Reward the dogs with treats whenever they look at each other calmly.

Should you take a reactive dog to a dog park?

If your dog tends to be a little nervous or reactive, however, taking him right into the dog park might not be the best idea – he could become scared or overwhelmed and might react in an aggressive way.

How do you introduce a reactive dog?

Here are some general tips for introducing your rescue pup to new people:

  1. Read your dog’s body language. Their ears, eyes, and tails will communicate how they feel.
  2. Ask the person to ignore your dog at first.
  3. Remind new people to pet your dog’s side, not her head.
  4. Have treats on hand, and give some to the new person!

What is dominance aggression dogs?

Dominance aggression is characterized by threats directed toward the owner when the dog feels challenged or threatened by the owner’s actions. A complete physical examination is recommended to rule out any underlying medical condition that may be contributing to your dog’s aggressive behavior.

6 Ways to Calm Your Reactive Dog

When a dog overreacts to anything in their surroundings, this is known as reactivity. Barking, lunging, and snarling are among of the possible behaviors to this stimulus. These reactions, on the other hand, do not qualify a dog as “aggressive.” Dogs are prone to displaying signs of reactivity. It might be a result of the dog’s genetic make-up, a lack of social experience, or a particularly frightening event in his life. Maintaining control over a reactive dog may be challenging. It makes it difficult to go on walks, visit the park, or be in public areas because of this condition.

Instead of attempting to live with a hyperactive dog, discover new techniques for keeping them quiet and focused on you at all times.

Set Up a Routine

It’s not something most dog owners think about or are even aware of, but dogs have a strong desire for consistency and predictability. Dogs are well-versed in our daily routines. They are aware of us waking up in the morning and understand that putting on shoes signals that they should be excited for that morning stroll. The world becomes predictable as a result of routines. It assists them in making sense of everything that is going on around them, whether it is good or terrible. The more anxiety your dog has, the more he or she craves regularity.

In some point, once your dog has gotten the hang of your pattern, you will be able to put your routine into action in the real world, such as at the park, on walks, or in other public places.

Get Essential Equipment

Even though it’s not something most dog owners think about or are even aware of, dogs are driven by a strong desire for consistency. Even our canine companions are familiar with our daily schedules. They are aware of when we get up in the morning and that putting on shoes signals that it is time to be eager for that morning stroll with us. The world becomes predictable as a result of established patterns of behavior. It assists them in making sense of everything that is going on around them, whether it is positive or negative in nature.

Their ability to maintain calmness, attention, and safety in stressful situations is improved by following a simple but effective regimen.

Counter Conditioning

It’s not something most dog owners think about or are even aware of, but dogs have a strong desire for regularity. Dogs are familiar with our daily routines. They are aware of when we get up in the morning and that putting on shoes signals that it is time to get enthusiastic for the daily stroll. The world becomes predictable as a result of established routines. It assists them in making sense of everything that is going on around them, whether it is positive or negative. The more anxious your dog is, the more he or she craves regularity.

In stressful times, a simple but effective habit can help them feel more calm, focused, and secure. At some point, once your dog has gotten the hang of your pattern, you will be able to put your routine into action in the real world, such as in the park, on walks, or in other public places.

Household Changes

It’s not something most dog owners think about or are even aware of, but dogs are creatures of habit. Dogs are well acquainted with our daily routines. They are aware of when we get up in the morning and that putting on shoes signals that it is time to be eager for that daily stroll. Routines help to make the world predictable. It aids children in making sense of everything that is going on around them, whether it is good or terrible. The more anxious your dog is, the more he or she craves a schedule.

Eventually, after your dog has gotten the hang of your pattern, you will be able to put your routine into action in the real world, such as in the park, on walks, or in public places.

Body Language

Understanding canine body language will assist you in communicating effectively with your dog’s breed and temperament. Dogs communicate mostly through their body language. The importance of learning to speak “dog” is that you will be able to detect when your dog is uncomfortable, fearful, or threatened as a result of your training. First and foremost, realize that the majority of dog body language is context-dependent. Tail wagging, for example, may convey a variety of messages, ranging from “I’m so delighted to meet you!” to “Please don’t get any closer!” To fully comprehend the situation, you will need to consider the overall picture of your dog as well as the surrounding surroundings.

  • Dogs with wide lips, relaxed or forward ears, and soft eyes are common characteristics of this breed.
  • Nervous dogs have stiff general body posture, which is indicative of their anxiety.
  • Calming signals are used to communicate to other canines that they have no intention of harming them.
  • Dogs that are alert have a stiff or forward general body posture.
  • This body stance is generally only maintained for a small period of time before the dog decides whether to react in playfulness, fear, or aggressiveness instead.
  • These dogs will almost certainly be baring their fangs and their hackles will be up as you approach them.

If you ever come face to face with a dog who begins to demonstrate hostile body language, pause your approach, walk gently, and look non-threatening to the canine companion. Additionally, avoid direct eye contact, turn aside, and maintain a calm and confident demeanor. DO NOT flee the scene!

Sign Up for a Behavior Rehab Class

One of the most effective strategies to deal with your dog’s reactivity is to learn from qualified trainers about how to put a stop to his bad habits. Our objective at WagsWiggles is to assist you in making your dog a success. We offer a fantastic behavior rehab course in our Online Classroom called Zen Dog, which is based on our in-facility group session and is available 24/7. This course consists of 15 sessions that educate you and your dog how to deal with reactivity and keep them calm in a variety of situations.

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The best aspect of the training is that we use real-life case studies from current and previous clients to illustrate our points.

The Zen Dog course is also included in our new Online Classroom Membership, Behavior Rehab, which includes the Zen Dog course.

Continue to ignore your dog’s reactive behavior as long as possible!

Dog Reactivity

Quite simply, “reactivity” indicates that the dog reacts to another dog, a human, or an item in a certain way. Essentially, something or someone causes the dog to do behaviors such as barking, growling, and lunging, which might give the impression that the dog is being violent. However, this is not always the case. Sometimes the dog is upset and responds as a result of fear, while other times the dog is totally well and shows no signs of wanting to attack or bite the trigger. During our talk, we’ll concentrate on two very distinct forms of reactivity:

  1. Responsiveness in response to what is known as “barrier frustration.” Reactiveness in response to fear.

The response associated with what is known as “barrier frustration”; the fear-based reactivity

Barrier Frustration

When a dog is unable to investigate anything on the other side of a fence, a door, or even a leash, it may be quite upsetting for him. (Yes! When a dog is tied to a leash, it might become quite irritated, especially if another dog or other animal happens to walk by. However, and this is a huge though, barrier dissatisfaction does not imply that the dog would react aggressively toward whatever it is that he is interested in investigating. If the dog gets along with others while his access to them is not restricted, he is unlikely to be unhappy with them when his access to them is restricted.

What does a barrier-frustrated dog look like? There is no set answer, but it could be any mixture of the following:
  • Dogs will lunge and pull (if they are on a leash)
  • They will bark
  • They will growl
  • They will twist, flip, and flop.

You’ll notice a lot of pro-social (read: nice) gestures paired with attempts to get past whatever it is that’s preventing him from progressing farther. Keeping visual access blocked, for example, by closing the window shades, can assist to lessen barrier frustration and frustration can be reduced. In addition, an experienced trainer can assist you in teaching your dog strong “greeting skills,” so that your dog does not become overly excited when he comes across another dog while on a leash walk.

Maintaining your body language expertise is essential if you want to be able to distinguish between a barrier annoyed dog and a dog who is fearful. More information about the latter will be provided later.

Fear-Based Reactivity

You’ll notice a lot of pro-social (read: nice) gestures paired with attempts to get past whatever it is that’s preventing him from progressing forward. For example, having the window shades closed can assist to lessen barrier frustration since it prevents people from seeing what is happening outside. While out on leash, a trained trainer may also assist you in teaching your dog proper “greeting skills,” so that your dog does not become overly excited when he comes across another dog. Maintaining your body language expertise is essential if you want to be able to distinguish between a barrier annoyed dog and a dog that is scared.

  • When another dog comes into view, the leash becomes tight. This may begin at a considerable distance, but the dog is aware of the presence of another dog in the vicinity and is growling. Low-level growling may begin as soon as the other dog is perceived, regardless of distance, and may increase in intensity as the other dog approaches closer to the dog that started the growling. Snarling
  • sLunging

If your dog is exhibiting fear-based aggression, walking at off-peak hours, going in less-populated places, and/or employing muzzles (as seen in the video below) can make walks safer and more pleasurable for everyone on both ends of the leash. Having a dog that reacts in either of these ways can make owners feel uncomfortable and even terrified when walking their canines. Finding a knowledgeable trainer who can identify and address the underlying source of the problem is the most effective method of overcoming it.

What Is a Reactive Dog, and How Do You Train One?

A dog who barks and growls is more likely to be a reactive dog rather than an aggressive dog, according to research. An explanation of why dogs are reactive as well as suggestions for training them are provided below. We are all aware that dogs may have a variety of characteristics; some are gentle and quiet, while others are energetic and excitable. Even while the breed of the dog is generally taken into consideration, dogs of any breed can still have their own, distinct personality characteristics.

  1. A reactive dog is one that reacts excessively to a variety of stimuli.
  2. The terms reactive dog and aggressive dog are frequently used interchangeably, although they are not the same thing.
  3. Dogs with high levels of reactivity may make living with them more difficult than it needs to be, and they can cause strangers to be concerned about their safety.
  4. It may be challenging with certain dogs, but with perseverance and patience, you may make considerable progress in your relationship with them.

What Are the Behaviors of a Reactive Dog?

As previously said, a reactive dog is one who aggressively reacts to items in their environment, resulting in an overly exuberant dog or one who reacts adversely. Various behaviors shown by reactive dogs will be discussed in detail in the sections that follow.

Barrier Frustration

There is a strong possibility that you have witnessed dissatisfaction caused by barriers.

When a dog notices something interesting that they want to investigate more but are unable to do so because they are behind a fence or window that prevents them from doing so. When a dog is experiencing behavioural frustration, they may exhibit the following behaviors:

  • The following behaviors are common: barking
  • Laying down
  • Lounging
  • Snapping
  • Pulling on the leash (barrier frustrations can also occur on walks)
  • Bouncing
  • Twisting and flipping

Obviously, these activities have the potential to be misinterpreted as hostile conduct. It makes it difficult for owners of reactive dogs to have their pets interact with other dogs since their owners will typically think that the reactive dog is dog-aggressive, making the situation even more challenging. When the truth is something like this: the reactive dog really wants to engage but is so irritated by their inability to do so that they display behavior irritation as a result. In a Catch-22 circumstance, the dog reacts to a perceived barrier to engagement, but is subsequently denied the opportunity to interact as a result of the dog’s own response.

When dogs are denied the opportunity to exercise or play, they become antsy.

Fear-Based Reactivity

Dogs who exhibit fear-based reactivity, which is characterized by baring fangs, snarling, and barking in response to a perceived threat, are another type of behavior that is misunderstood as aggressiveness. Perhaps they are feeling intimidated by someone they do not know (Chihuahuas are frequently good instances of this behavior) or by another dog in the vicinity. Confusion is further exacerbated by the fact that fear-based response is sometimes referred to as “fear-aggression.” It is the dog’s aggressive-like actions, rather than their willingness to attack, that are being referred to as “aggression.” In response to being assaulted or being attacked, the reactive dog displays defensive and aggressive tendencies, which is why they are reactive.

Some dogs’ fear-based reactivity will not be as clear (for example, there will be no barking or growling), and you will need to learn to interpret the dog’s body language in order to identify it.

The expressions on a dog’s face are his way of saying, “I’m stressed — stay away from me.”

How To Calm and Counter a Reactive Dog

Another type of behavior that is misinterpreted for aggressiveness is fear-based reactivity, which occurs when a dog is concerned for his or her own safety and reacts to the perceived threat by baring teeth, snarling, and barking. Possibly they are feeling intimidated by another dog or by someone they do not know (Chihahuas are frequently good instances of this type of behavior). Fear-based reaction is also referred to as “fear-aggression,” which adds to the confusion. It is the dog’s aggressive-like activities, rather than their intent to attack, that are referred to as “aggression.” In response to being assaulted or being attacked, the reactive dog exhibits defensive, aggressive actions in order to avoid being attacked.

The fear-based reactivity of certain dogs will not be as visible (no barking or growling), and you will have to learn to interpret the dog’s body language in order to identify it.

If your dog exhibits these behaviors, it is communicating with you that “I’m stressed – please keep away from me.

Set a Routine

Even though we are all creatures of habit, dogs are even more so than we are. Dogs enjoy routine because it gives them the assurance that everything is going according to plan for their benefit. For example, if you wake up at the same time every day, it means they will be allowed to go outside and have breakfast, which is why sleeping in on occasion might be upsetting to your pets. As a rule of thumb, the more anxiety a dog has, the more regularity they will require. Begin with a simple program and gradually incorporate more elements as they get more comfortable.

Then, over time, you may gradually introduce them to public settings in modest increments, building on their confidence.

The gradual exposure to new people and maybe dogs over time can help them get more comfortable with the situation.

Use Appropriate Training Equipment

To prevent your dog from lunging and pulling on their leash, use a Head Collar or a Gentle Leader to control his or her behavior. Another alternative is a no-pull halter such as therabbitgoo Dog Harness or thePetSafe Easy Walk Harness, which are all available on Amazon. While this will not prevent your dog from pulling, it will help to reduce the amount of unpleasant behavior while the dog is wearing it. You should absolutely make an effort to teach your dog not to tug on his or her leash as well.

This is an effective strategy.

Eventually, your dog will learn that yanking on the leash will result in a walk being cancelled, but that maintaining a loose leash will result in continued walking.

Use Counter Conditioning and Desensitization

Counter conditioning is the process of teaching your dog to alter his or her emotional reaction to a given stimuli. It is this stimulation that serves as the trigger source in the instance of a hyperactive dog. The first step is to get familiar with the early warning signals of your dog’s aggressive behavior. Once you’ve figured out how to predict their reaction to a trigger source, you may present them with a treat to divert their attention away from the source and get them to associate the trigger with a good reward rather than a terrifying danger.

  1. You may progressively counter-condition that reaction by exposing your dog to it more frequently.
  2. Then move in a different direction away from the barrier so that they don’t have a reaction to your actions.
  3. Do not get any closer to the fence than you have to.
  4. It is critical that you do not rush through this procedure.
  5. If you do proceed through the procedure too fast and your dog begins to react to the trigger, do not praise them; instead, simply turn and walk away from the trigger until the process is completed properly.

And the next day, don’t go as far or give as much praise as you have in the past. Whenever your dog exhibits an unfavorable reaction, you are gradually teaching him that nice things come from positive behavior, which in this example is the absence of the undesirable behavior.

Crate Training

Crate training is advised for all dogs, but it can be especially beneficial for dogs that are reactive to other people or animals. The ability to regulate your dog’s exposure to particular triggers, as well as the ability to counter condition, are both advantages of using this method. For example, annoyance with a window barrier is a very typical sort of reactive behavior, and it can be difficult for many individuals to find out how to put a stop to it. The fact that the dog’s conduct appears to make perfect sense from his point of view might make dealing with him difficult.

  • After that, the mailman departs the building.
  • A thought crosses the dog’s mind: “The intruder came, I advised him to leave, and the invader departed.” Now please express your gratitude to me for a job well done!” It is possible to take advantage of this situation if you have crate trained your dog and they are comfortable in their cage.
  • Immediately, if they are far enough away from the mailman that they are unaware that he is present, the dog will not respond, which answers the immediate problem.
  • By gradually repositioning the crate such that it is within hearing distance of the mailman and offering goodies shortly before he comes, it is possible to transform the trigger source into a pleasurable experience for the dog.

What to Do When Your Dog Shows Reactive Behavior

The most effective training strategies for reactive dogs all place a strong emphasis on what should happen before the dog responds. However, reactionary episodes are unavoidable at times, particularly early on in the game when you haven’t done any training with them. So, what should you do if your dog starts acting erratically as a result of a trigger source in the environment? The best strategy to deal with a dog’s reactive behavior is to remain calm and do all you can to remove your dog away from the source of the trigger as quickly as possible.

Try to bring the episode to a close as fast as possible by removing them from the source of the trigger and transferring their focus to something with which they are more familiar.

Dog Reactivity: Preventing It vs. Curing It

If avoiding the problematic stimuli or setting is more convenient than trying to educate the dog to accept it, that is the best option in some cases. Much better to concentrate your training efforts on reducing triggers that are more regular and inescapable in your dog’s life and transforming them into pleasant experiences for your dog.

If you must take your dog out in public on a leash, we propose the following precautions to avoid any negative situations that may arise.

  • Never allow your dog to approach other dogs while on a leash. There are no exceptions
  • 100 percent of the time
  • Retractable leashes should not be used! Far if you’re having issue managing your dog from six feet away, you’ll have even more difficulty controlling them at a greater distance
  • When meeting new people, always make sure your dog is sitting next to you. Provide them with plenty of rewards to reinforce the idea that this behavior is desired. Any potential reactionary circumstance should be avoided at all costs if there is any question! Most likely, “this time” will be no different from “the previous time” your dog behaved in the same way.

Conclusion

It might be difficult to cope with a reactive dog; but, with time and care, you can assist to lessen this characteristic. It’s important to remember that sensitivity in dogs is not the same as aggression, no matter how much it appears to be. Some dogs just form attachments with humans or other animals in the family, and “outsiders” cause them to feel uncomfortable or scared in their surroundings.

Confessions of a Dog Trainer: I Have a Reactive Dog

Approximately seven years ago, I relocated with my dogs from a suburban-rural location to New York City. Charlotte, my dog, was always a touch on the nervous side. As a professional, I’m well aware of my abilities, but suddenly I was in charge of a dog who growled and lunged at other dogs as I walked down the street. During the first month I lived in the city, I was so concerned about the appearance of Charlotte’s conduct that I refused to wear company-branded clothing for the whole time. Who would employ a dog trainer who had a “bad” dog on his or her hands?!

Many dog owners are disappointed to discover that their dog has developed a reactivity problem.

Some dogs scream and lunge at moving items such as vehicles and scooters, whereas others do not.

At Behavior Vets, we have a lot of experience working with dogs who have issues around children, loud sounds, and unexpected bursts of activity.

What is reactivity?

Overreaction to environmental stimuli is referred to as reactivity. Barking and lunging are two frequent manifestations of reactivity. Dogs can be reactive to a variety of stimuli, including humans, animals, other dogs, sounds, movement, or any combination of the foregoing. The majority of the time, it is a reaction to something that is distressing to your dog.

Why are dogs reactive?

There are a variety of reasons why dogs might become aggressive against other canines.

Fear

Some dogs are fearful or detest other dogs because they had a terrible encounter with another dog or because they were undersocialized when they were younger (lacked positive experiences with other dogs). These dogs are barking and lunging at other dogs in an attempt to keep them away.

Frustration

The fact that some dogs like and enjoy playing with other dogs does not prevent them from doing what they truly want: running over to meet and play with them. As a result of their frustration, they bark and lunge. These dogs tend to get along well with other dogs when they are not on a leash. This was Charlotte’s situation. She couldn’t go forward because of the leash, and when she couldn’t move forward towards other dogs, she would bark and lunge.

Learning History

Dogs, like every other living creature on our earth, do what is best for them! The present action is motivated by the consequences of the past.

The behavior of dogs is repeated when it results in a favorable outcome, whether it is the avoidance of something unpleasant or the acquisition of something fantastic. Dogs do not act out of spite, and they do not act against their own self-interest when they do anything.

So how do you help a reactive dog? Let’s start with management.

Last year, while attending a behavior lecture, I overheard a really creative metaphor being used to highlight the necessity of management in a behavior modification program: Allowing a dog to practice a habit that you are attempting to alter is like to pouring water into a bucket with holes in the bottom. Dog management is crucial because it aids in the creation of an environment in which the dog has little or no chance to practice the behavior that you wish to correct. Taking any other route would be equivalent to taking three steps forward and two steps back.

  1. I should have known better.
  2. I also have a humanexample to share.
  3. People may still smoke in pubs and restaurants that have designated smoking areas at the time of this writing.
  4. For three months, he avoided going to public places and attending parties in order to avoid being enticed to light up.
  5. It was bustling with activity, with groups of children running down the pavement, dogs tugging on retractable leashes that were stretched out like tripwire and scooters racing by, with people stopping abruptly to text on their phones.
  6. I was reminded of a defensive driving course I had taken in my early twenties, which I found interesting.
  7. Yes, isn’t that precisely what I was doing while I was walking Charlotte and Tricky around the neighborhood on that particular day?

It was my responsibility to steer clear of circumstances that may provoke a reaction from Charlotte.

I started with a series of games in which Charlotte had to move with me while keeping her attention on me.

As a result of these abilities, I was able to weave Charlotte through pedestrian traffic and reposition her such that she could avoid dogs as much as possible on the streets of New York.

As a result, Charlotte and I were well-versed in performing the maneuver when the situation demanded it.

Several factors contribute to the difficulty of adjusting to life in an urban setting.

I used to be terrified of turning a corner in a building.

It was much worse if the other dog, such as Charlotte, wasn’t used to being around other dogs.

I dealt with this in a number of different ways.

In this way, if a dog approached, I would be prepared to redirect Charlotte’s focus or turn around quickly.

All of the defensive driving strategies are intended to divert the dog’s attention away from the ignition switch.

A reactive dog may bring a lot of surprises into your life, and this is especially true.

In certain cases, these tactics will assist you in controlling your dog.

Switchback – The dog shifts from one side to the other, causing your body to function as a barrier between the two.

Now You See Him, Now You Don’t!

I opted to avoid passing another dog on occasion since we didn’t have enough space between the dog and Charlotte to navigate well. I swerved in and out of automobiles parked on the side of the road in order to utilize the cars as a visual barrier. Always be aware of approaching traffic and maintain your dog at a safe distance between you and the parked car when doing so.

The Human Barrier

We had to stroll by another dog on the sidewalk every now and then. In response, I cued Charlotte to turn to the side of my body that was furthest away from the dog in order to act as a physical barrier between us. Because of the lack of distance between Charlotte and the other dog, this strategy was not always 100 percent effective, but it did significantly reduce Charlotte’s anxiety. For reactive dogs, being in close proximity to other dogs is a major source of stress. The pressure from Charlotte and the other dog was alleviated to some extent by my positioning myself between them.

After all, every new habit you teach your dog should be as entertaining as a trick!

Magnet Technique

When I was the Human Barrier, this approach assisted me in maneuvering Charlotte through confined locations. Using this technique, you will be able to attract your dog BETWEEN places when the dog’s triggering stimuli cannot be avoided. If your dog becomes agitated whenever he encounters another dog, you can utilize this strategy to go through the lobby of your apartment building without disturbing him. This assists your dog in maintaining their attention on you when passing other dogs in confined situations.

The reward in your palm functions as a magnet, drawing your dog’s attention to it.

Dogs = Meatballs

When we were in high school and initially exposed to the topic of psychology, we learnt about the famous Pavlov dog studies, which were conducted by Ivan Pavlov. Pavlov’s breakthrough work in psychology began in 1927 while physiologist Ivan Pavlov was investigating digestion when he detected a reaction that led to his groundbreaking work in psychology. He discovered that after a period, when he rang a bell each time before feeding his dogs, the dogs began to salivate as soon as they heard the bell, even if they were not eaten immediately after.

  • It was this strategy that I employed throughout the initial phases of my collaboration with Charlotte.
  • I needed to go to the root of the problem in order to make long-term behavioral changes.
  • It’s a good combination of both explanations.
  • Food was the medium via which I was able to achieve that blissful emotional state.
  • Many difficulties arose while I was assisting Charlotte in adjusting to life in New York City, which necessitated me making adjustments.
  • The description of how I worked with her has been broken down for the purposes of this blog, but it is by no means a comprehensive strategy.
  • It’s possible that your dog chooses a different meal to match with other dogs than you anticipated.
  • Your pup may require a much greater distance from you than I had to with Charlotte, or you may be able to work at a closer range to other puppies than I did with Charlotte.
  • Someone with years of expertise implementing gentle, evidence-based training approaches will assist you in improving your dog’s behavior while also making you feel more confident about taking walks with your dog.

On-demand classes are available from Behavior Vets, including Worry Less, Wag More, which aims to provide answers to some of your dog’s difficulties. Fill out the form here! Following that, you will learn how to:

  • When confronted with triggers, be calmer and more cooperative
  • Be more sensitive to you in distracting surroundings
  • Have a faster recovery time after being triggered
  • Have fewer and less strong reactions to triggers
  • It will be less difficult to transport about town.

If you need assistance getting started or staying on track, your Behavior Consultant may coach you over the phone or over Skype. Request that your professional get you started sharing videos and tracking sheets if you are not already doing so. In addition, we offer virtual coaching packages and online training programs that you may do at your own convenience. Please contact us by email at [email protected] or by phone at 646-661-1001 if you are interested in participating in our tele-training sessions.

Reactive Dog Behavior

In the realm of dog behavior and training, reactivity is a phrase that is often used, yet it is frowned upon by some in our industry since it is a fairly imprecise behavioral description. The term “reactive” is used to describe a wide range of behaviors, from a dog that barks a few times when the doorbell rings to a dog who becomes a raging crazy when her triggers are present. According to what I’ve heard, the following is the best definition: Any dog that exhibits an abnormal amount of alertness in response to a typical stimuli is known as a reactive dog.

It is not necessary to be excessive in order to be deemed reactive – only “odd.” However, although many owners are capable of coping with a dog who exhibits a low to moderate degree of reactivity, dogs who exhibit high levels of alertness can be intimidating, even for those who are familiar with the breed.

The good news is that we can typically teach these dogs how to behave appropriately in the face of their triggers if we intervene early enough.

TYPES OF REACTIVE BEHAVIOR

There are two main forms of reactive behavior that can be identified. One is brought on by fear or worry, and it frequently entails a considerable danger of aggressive behavior. The majority of the time, this is seen in dogs who were not well-socialized, who are fearful or anxious in general, and/or who have experienced life events, whether accidentally or intentionally abusive, that have left them particularly sensitive to the stimuli that are causing their abnormal levels of arousal. The other type is triggered by feelings of frustration.

When released from constraint, these dogs will frequently approach the object of their interest and enthusiastically participate in appropriate engagement – although this is not always the case.

Other times, the target of their emotional display may feel threatened by their aroused behavior and respond with protective aggressiveness when approached by the subject of their show.

If your dog exhibits reactive behavior, it is critical that you teach him or her how to respond in a more suitable manner. The tips that follow can assist you in modifying your dog’s behavior when faced with a range of situations that cause an inappropriately stimulated response.

MANAGING REACTIVITY

The feeling displayed by this canine looks to be one of frustration. Although he appears to be flashing a “whale eye” (the white of his eyes are visible), it appears to be from enthusiasm rather than aggressiveness. His eyes are soft, his mouth is wide and loose, his ears are half-cocked to the side, and his front paws are relaxed. He has a calm expression on his face. Interestingly enough, the human’s expression appears to be more frightening than the dog’s! Image courtesy of Corepics Vof | Dreamstime.com When it comes to behavior modification programs, management is key to the success of most (if not all!).

  • If you wish to modify your dog’s reactive behavior, she must first cease acting in that manner herself.
  • Although the stimulus (dog, human, or car) would have gone away regardless in many circumstances, the dog is not aware of this reality.
  • As a result, her reactive behavior is likely to recur or become more severe.
  • Having your dog often meet other dogs and humans while on leash might result in this type of behavior, which is one of the reasons I highly advise against this practice.
  • I ask that my dogs remain attention to me while I am in the company of others, and they are only permitted to greet on occasion (not every time!) when they have been granted permission.
  • As a result, it is possible that arousal behavior may grow once again as a result.

In order to accomplish this, you must first gain an understanding of “intensity of stimulus,” which refers to how close, how active, how loud, or what gender the person is; how fast or loud the vehicle is; how large, what breed, what color, or what gender the dog is; or any other identifiable quality that will set your dog off (such as a loud noise).

Her comfort level with women might vary depending on whether they are wearing hats, sunglasses or carrying an umbrella, but she requires all males to be at least 40 feet away from her before she feels comfortable.

The better you are at detecting all of the different qualities of all of your dog’s triggers and maintaining them at a level that is below her reactivity threshold, the more likely she is to remain below her reactivity threshold and the more effective you will be at altering the behavior.

Discuss this idea with your veterinarian, and if she isn’t familiar with behavior-modifying drugs, ask for a referral to a veterinary behaviorist who is.

MODIFYING REACTIVITY

There looks to be a lot of dissatisfaction in this dog’s expression. The “whale eye” (the white of his eyes are visible) appears to be caused by enthusiasm rather than anger, which is a good thing. His eyes are soft, his mouth is wide and slack, his ears are half-cocked to the side, and his front paws are relaxed. He seems like he’s enjoying himself. In fact, the human’s face appears to be more frightening than the dog’s at this point. Image courtesy of Corepics Vof at Dreamstime.com. In most (if not all!) behavior change programs, management is an essential component.

  • If you wish to modify your dog’s reactive behavior, she must first cease acting in that way herself.
  • Although the stimulus (dog, human, or car) would have gone away regardless in many circumstances, the dog is not aware of this fact.
  • A distinct reason exists in the case of frustration reactivity: the dog wishes to visit another dog, person, or other object and the arousal arises from being denied access to that object.
  • In situations when your dog expects to be able to greet but is not permitted to do so for whatever reason, this can result in reactive arousal, which is particularly problematic for dogs that already have a poor tolerance for frustration.
  • As soon as you allow your dog to approach on leash to alleviate her frustration reactivity, you will have positively encouraged her for her behavior.
  • As a result, it is likely that arousal behavior may grow once more.

In order to accomplish this, you must first gain an understanding of “intensity of stimulus,” which refers to how close, how active, how loud, or what gender the person is; how fast or loud the vehicle is; how large, what breed, what color, or what gender the dog is; or any other identifiable quality that will set your dog on edge.

Except for women who are wearing a hat, sunglasses, or carrying an umbrella, she may be okay with any distance between them, but she requires all males to be at least 40 feet away.

When it comes to detecting all of your dog’s triggers and maintaining them at levels below her reactivity threshold, the better you are at it, the more likely she is to remain below her reactivity threshold and the more effective you will be at adjusting the behavior you see.

This is something to discuss with your veterinarian; if she isn’t familiar with behavior-modifying drugs, ask for a referral to a veterinary behaviorist if she isn’t.

THE GOOD NEWS

With your dedication to an appropriate combination of management and modification, reactive behavior can almost always be successfully turned into non-reactive behavior, or at the very least into behavior that is more controllable than it was before. If you are feeling discouraged by your dog’s current degree of reactivity, realize that there is still hope. The sooner you begin implementing a mixture of the above-mentioned rules, the sooner you and your dog will be able to enjoy a happy, long life with one another.

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