• What is reactivity? Simply, it is when a dog over reacts to certain things (stimuli) in its environment.  This can be anything including seeing other dogs, people, kids, loud noises, bicycles, cars and unfamiliar situations.

    One of the most common is reacting to other dogs, especially when out walking on lead. 'Fido' sees another dog and all of a sudden, he turns into a barking, lunging monster, pulling at the end of the lead, stops listening and the once enjoyable walk becomes a nightmare, the guardian gets frustrated and upset, the dog is already upset and often this leads to less walks or stopping altogether and the problem just becomes worse.

    Firstly its important to understand that no matter what our perception is, for some reason the dog sees the object of their reaction  as a potential threat and responds emotionally.

    At a base level the reaction lies in feelings of stress, anxiety or fear and factors including genetics, poor socialization, hormones, neurophysiological makeup and previous experience can all be contributing factors. Left unchecked this problem wont just go away but will become worse and potentially dangerous. 

    Reactivity is not a quick fix, we need to change the way the dog perceives the threat (changing the emotional response) and this takes time, patience and commitment.

    Using aversive methods such as yelling, yanking the lead, 'alpha rollover' , shock and prong collars actually add to the emotional state not reverse it, whilst some may seem to 'work' initially as the 'behaviour' disappears, all that has happened is the dog has learned that if it shows these reactions more bad things happen from his or her guardian so the dog is actually now more stressed.

    What we need to be doing is helping the dog to feel safe, not increase the anxiety by working with the dog to change his or her emotional response and this involves a management and behavioural training plan and commitment from the guardian.

    Please contact me to discuss your particular situation.

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