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2750 N. Stiles Road, Ludington, MI

Reactive Dogs

Tonight we will have our second class of our Basic Obedience Training for September. John and I are really looking forward to it. We have some reactive dogs in this class and it is always interesting and rewarding to watch the dogs progress through their training.

So just what is a reactive dog? Typically it’s a dog that is fearful of something and it’s typically from not being socialized well or maybe a bad experience with something. Just because a dog is reactive it does not mean that it is aggressive. There is a difference!

Reactive behavior can be shown in many different behaviors. Some behaviors may be lunging and barking or it may be whining, pacing, panting, or even hard staring. Though the reaction may differ from dog to dog, what does not differ is the fact that your dog is having a very hard time dealing with the situation. When your normally calm dog has an outburst, you can be left feeling embarrassed, frustrated, and downright shocked. Most owners will say that they didn’t see the behavior coming and were taken completely off guard. Some become concerned and question the soundness of their dogs’ temperaments or even if the dog should be put down.

And after witnessing our dogs being reactive most of us start to wonder what else is going to happen with my dog. We wonder if our dog might react to a child, or if they might attack another dog if given the chance. Typically we imagine the worst possible scenarios in our mind, however we usually overthink all of it.

In reality, reactive behavior is quite normal in dogs. We must remember that canines lived in the wild before cohabiting with man. We have taken an animal intended for a life of survival of the fittest and attempted to turn him into a glorified house pet. They are expected to follow and obey our household rules, and all of this without a road map; without the ability to speak to communicate his own needs and desires. We expect a lot from our dogs. Sometimes, living in harmony in the domesticated world is very hard for our dogs, and at these times, we see reactivity emerge.

An example of reactivity that is very common is leash reactivity. You are out walking your dog and you see a dog coming towards you. Your dog’s tail slowly begins to wag, his eyes get a little glassy, and his panting may be more labored. He’s excited! Yet, as the dog gets nearer, he lunges on his lead, begins to whine, and even bark a little. By the time the dog is nearby, his excitement appears to have turned a corner into a darker zone. He’s pulling you strongly towards the other dog, and you’re not sure that you can hold him back much longer. Suddenly, there is an explosion of loud, aggressive-sounding barking, and you know you have to get you and him out of the situation as quickly as you can.

This is why basic obedience training is so important. Reactive dogs need to learn to disengage from their triggers. In our class we teach you how to train your dog to look to you for guidance and direction. It helps give them a more appropriate way to deal with the stimulus, and it puts you in a position of being looked to for guidance, giving you control.

Do you have a reactive dog? We offer our Basic Obedience Training Class monthly or we also offer a Board and Train option. Give us a call at 231-845-0550 to sign up or if you have any questions. And of course we are here to board your dogs and cats while you are away. When only the best will do!

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