Dog Training and Behaviour

Help for you with a live virtual class - Reframing your dog's Reactivity

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Let us look at : ·        
What is reactivity and where does it come from?
What makes our dogs reactive and what are some things that we can do to help reduce it and reduce the intensity of it. ·        

We may think we know what reactivity is but "reactivity" does not have a specific definition so we may all be talking about different things. ·        

An important thing that we need to ask: is the behaviour that the dog is demonstrating abnormal in any way?
Is it an appropriate response to what's happening to that dog in the particular moment?
If another dog is being rude then a "reaction" may be simply appropriate communication rather than an inappropriate reaction.
What is appropriate depends on the situation but we would be looking for a proportional response, intended to warn rather than harm: a growl or an air snap would be warnings, whereas a bite may not be (unless prior warnings have been ignored). ·        

The term "reactivity" has some blurry edges, I think, particularly with resource guarding. If a dog "reacts" to another dog stealing his ball, is that resource guarding? If a dog chases after a jogger, is that a reaction or chase behaviour stimulated by the our dogs predatory response? It can, of course, be a bit of both: a dog may be both fearful of other dogs and protective of resources or may get startled by the jogger and the fast movement then triggers a predatory sequence.  ·        

The dictionary definition of "react" is to respond to a stimulus in a particular manner, which is pretty bland.
We all respond to stimulus in particular ways, and we all react.
So reaction is not a bad thing. All of us react. We have to react in order to survive. ·        

We are usually talking about over-reaction when we use the word "reactive" and what is an over-reaction is very much our judgement.

The descriptions that we may use for reactivity is "barking, lunging, growling or otherwise responding 'inappropriately' to another dog, human or another trigger".  It could also include "flight" responses such as backing off. ·        

It is important to note with the label of reactivity it is only our judgment of what is inappropriate.
The dog is simply doing something that has worked for them or that is an emotional response to something that they're seeing, so it is appropriate to them. ·        

That, of course, does not mean we just ignore it. It is usually the case that the behaviour is stressful for the dog, stressful for other dogs and stressful for us, so it makes sense to work on changing it.
However, it is important to note that our dog doesn't think that they're doing something wrong.
Our dog is not choosing to be bad. Our dog is not being difficult. Our dog is just responding, reacting in a way that works for them, at that moment. ·        

We can get a more detailed understanding of reactivity by considering the focus of the reaction. What is the main trigger?
There are three main groups: dog to dog (intra-species), dog to human (inter-species) and reaction to fast-moving things (which may include a predatory element). Note that reactions may be to the whole group (all dogs) or to subsets of these groups (big dogs, energetic dogs, spaniels etc.). Dogs may also be reactive to more than one group or subgroup.  ·        

We also need to ask if this is an emotional response or a learned response.
An emotional response is driven by immediate emotion in the moment.
A learned response is where the behaviour is offered in order to achieve a specific result (for instance, the dog has learned that if they bark, people will go away).
Of course, sometimes a reaction includes both. But for some reactive dogs, the emotional element is limited and their response is primarily learned (even if it was emotional initially).  

Would you like to become more understanding on how this develops, learn how to observe like professionals dog, learn how to reset, and begin building you and your dogs super skills in order to develop you and your dogs confidence, develop your relationship and become ready for the real world.
Learn how to make positive changes for you and your dog.  

In my Retraining Reactivity Live Virtual Class (GROUP OR PRIVATE) we break these details down for you to understand and track so that you can make positive changes for you and your dog.

You can also book private sessions with me to work on this if you prefer.

Rates start at $500.00 depending on the package you choose.

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