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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Reactivity. Part I - Definition, Management, Safety

Caution: If a dog has hurt a human or other animal or has the propensity to harm, please seek professional help* immediately.

This is going to be the first post in a series of posts about reactivity. Such a broad term - reactivity. What exactly does it mean?

For the purposes of this series, let's say that it occurs when a dog is not in control of his/her own actions. Basically a dog who sees a trigger** and starts barking or lunging.

Dogs can be reactive for any number of reasons - frustration, fear, excitement, lack of impulse control, "aggression", etc.. But no matter the cause, our first step in treating any undesirable behavior issue is to the set the dog up to not practice the behavior.

So the first thing we do is avoid the thing that makes the dog bark and lunge.

That might mean:
Walking in quiet areas
Walking at odd hours
Preparing for issues by practicing emergency U turns; planning escape routes, practicing for certain situations. More details here:

Reactive dogs should always be on leash when not in secured areas.

If necessary, some pet parents might consider conditioning their dogs to where a basket muzzle.
Please don't use any other muzzle for walks. Basket muzzles allow panting, drinking, even treat taking.
Muzzles should only be used as a backup to management. Never in place of management (i.e. keep a good distance from triggers, keeping dogs on leash, etc..)
More on muzzles here:

*Hiring a Trainer:

** Triggers - things that bother dogs (squirrels, humans, other dogs, cats, cars, bicycles, etc..)

Stay Tuned. More on reactivity will be posted here:

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