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This is why your dog is still reactive

If you have a dog thats fearful or not so confident around other dogs or people and want to work on their reactivity, then we first have to change your perspective on their reactivity and gain an understanding about why situations can be threatening to a dog, even though they're not to us.

So is your dog reactive when on leash and another dog is on the same side of the street as you? Let's imagine for a second how your dog is feeling.

Would I want to meet this particular person? NO.

My first choice would be avoidadnce = Cross the street.

  • I want to create distance between him and I to feel more safe.

  • If I'm with another person I would possibly feel safer if I know they've got my back, but not if I knew I would be more courageous than them or I have to protect them (kids).

If the scary guy now started to actively follow me, approach me or start talking/shouting at me it's time to escalate the situation and we hit FIGHT or FLIGHT.

  • I can choose to run away.

  • I can choose go go on the offensive verbally (go away, wtf do you want, leave me alone) in the hopes it doesn't turn physical = I will be losing that one.

  • I can trust my partner to take charge here because he's bigger/stronger than me and I trust him to stand up for me.

So what are the dogs options?

  • They can't choose to move away because they're stuck on leash.

  • They can' ttrust their handler because previous experiences showed they weren't able to handle the situation in a way that made you feel safe.

How do we change this response then?

  • We have to build trust in handler. We have to show them that we ARE good back up. That we DO have their back. That they are SAFE with us and we are in CHARGE of the situation.

  • We have to show them alternatives to confrontation so 'avoidance' is totally a good management strategy to build up trust between you and your dog.

  • Once we have trust we can work on desensitising and even correcting excessive reactions from our dog.

  • As long as we don't work on advocating and having your dogs back in aw ay that makes sense to the dog, the reactivity will never improve.

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