Reactivity is not aggression.
Aggression means hostile or violent behavior or attitudes toward another; readiness to attack or confront. And though reactivity can look aggressive in nature when your dog is barking and lunging on leash, there is usually no intention to confront or do harm.
Many reactive dogs live well with other dogs or play well at dog parks, because reactivity is just your dog reacting to a specific stimulus. Dogs can become over-reactive to a variety of different stimuli like people,
other dogs, and moving objects.
Why Reactivity Occurs:
Most over-reactive behavior stems from fear. Some dogs become fearful at the sight of a person, dog, or object. This may be the result of a specific scary experience that occurred in your dog’s life or due to the lack of socialization. Either way, as the person, dog, or object gets closer, your dog is unable to leave due to the leash, this then forces your dog to face the scary thing, causing an explosion of over-reactive behaviors which are designed to frighten scary thing(s) away. Dogs learn that barking and lunging makes people and dogs step away from them. In other words it works so they repeat these behaviors.
Some dogs, if restrained by a barrier, like a leash or fence, can become aroused or excited at the sight of a person, dog, or object. For example, when your dog is on leash and tries to pull towards another dog they wish to interact with, they are met with tension from the leash which leads to frustration and then escalates into over-reactive behaviors.
When some dogs see a stimuli, like a person, dog, or object and proceed to approach but are met with an aversive, like being jerked back on the leash, they often associate the jerk on leash to the people, dogs, or objects. This results in more explosive behavior upon first noticing the stimuli the next time, which usually results in more tension being applied to the leash by the handler followed by an increase in reactivity from the dog.
Fortunately, training can help. Using science-based, force-free training methods, I can help your dog change their emotional response to previously perceived threats. Once they feel safe and are able to communicate with you with their newly learned skills they will no longer need to over-react.
All training begins with an Initial Consultation which can be held virtually, or in our training studio. This 60-90 minute session will give me a chance to meet you and your dog and learn more about your goals. We will discuss problem areas and look at management and enrichment tools to determine immediate solutions. We’ll then discuss training options and a training plan to suit your schedule.
After our Initial Consultation, you will receive a report on what we discussed as well as specific notes on how to get started training your dog.
Initial 60-90 minute consultation | $150
The number of sessions recommended will be based on your dog’s behavior modification plan. Our rate is $100 an hour.