Reactivity or Over Reaction?

09/02/2022

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REACTIVITY OR OVER-REACTION?

So what do we mean when we talk about reactivity?

The dictionary definition of “react” is “to respond to a stimulus in a particular manner”, which is pretty bland but it does tell us that reacting is not in itself a bad thing. Every animal reacts sometimes and some reaction is needed for survival!

When we talk about “reactive” dogs we are talking about an over-reaction – a dog who responds to something with more intensity than we’d expect in that situation.

Context is key. Growling or barking at another dog from a few hundred feet away is an over-reaction. Growling if another dog jumps on their back is not!

So we define reactivity as “over-reacting to a dog, human or something else in the environment by barking, lunging, growling or otherwise responding with higher than expected intensity”. Note for your dog this might also include “flight” so backing off and freezing can also be over-reactive responses.

Remember your dog is not being naughty or disobedient. Your dog is not being difficult. Your dog is just responding in a way that works for them in that moment.

So your job is to let them know they can respond to things in a different way.

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