Tentatively approach dogs/people/new things and only when they are not being looked at?
Bark and lunge when dogs/people/animals etc approach?
Act quiet and still but stare at the thing they are scared of, then explode in a frenzy of barking and snapping?
Go crazy when another dog looks at them?
Even bite or attack other dogs or act this way towards people?
These can all be seen signs of (over) reactivity and inability to cope and it is vital that you know how to work with this dog to help manage and address their behaviour…
Its ok – just keep making them do it…
The ‘traditional’ approach has always been to keep exposing the dog to something it is afraid of, based on the theory that eventually it will ‘get over it’. Or to distract them and hope they don’t look at the thing they are afraid of…
Long term this doesn’t address the problem – you need to change how your dog emotionally feels about the trigger situation to impact on their behaviour. There is NO quick fix involved! We don’t use advice or recommend tools to ‘hide’ the behaviour as these result in increased stress and frequently an escalation of the behaviour in the longer term.
There is science behind this – when you look at dog neuropsychology (the relationship between the brain and behaviour) there is clear evidence that a dog who is ‘emotionally reactive’ (reacting using the sympathetic autonomous nervous system which regulates heart rate, blood pressure and prepares the body for activating adrenaline and a rise in blood sugar) literally cannot think it can only react to the stress. Only a dog which is reacting under the parasympathetic nervous system (which oppose the sympathetic system) can be stable enough to be able to think. This means that your stressed dog who is reacting to fear cannot calmly think about and learn from his actions. He is literally fighting for his life – under the fight, flight, freeze mechanism.
CARE for reactive dogs
Have a look at http://careforreactivedogs.com/ – its fabulous! These are the strategies we teach with – those underpinned by behavioural science which are proven to make a difference.
What do we offer ?
We have several different options, depending on the severity of your dog’s anxiety and stress:
Stage based space in an evening class
Reactive dogs class – only 3 dogs in the class
1 to 1 session – face to face or by video link
Get in touch and we can talk through how best to help you and your dog