Reactivity

October 24, 2018

 

Reactivity is a reactive or "aggressive" response to stimuli in the environment. Reactivity typically involves barking, lunging, and/or growling behavior. Dogs may display this behavior from inside the house, while on car rides, from behind a fence, and while walking on a leash. 

The most difficult dogs will have a: 

  • low threshold (triggered by the littlest thing)... 

  • high response (adrenalized from "0-60", in a split second), and...

  • slow recovery (high/anxious energy...whining, pacing, panting... long after the event).


Most owners and trainers will attempt to solve this emotional problem by requiring specific physical positions. Most owners and trainers will attempt to use "sit", "down", or "heel" to require the dog to remain "calm" and "in position" while the dog is emotionally stressed, or "triggered". This creates a high-conflict dynamic between dog and owner. The environmental challenge is high, and the dog's performance proficiency is low. The dog is stressed, the owner is issuing commands in an incredibly difficult moment, and the dog often "fails to perform". As a result, the owner's stress level and the dog's stress level dramatically increases. This isn't fun anymore, is it?

Reactivity will always be counterproductive to:

  • the recall

  • obedience commands

  • loose leash walking

  • your sanity! 😉 


We won't solve reactivity with loose leash walking. We won't solve reactivity with the recall. They are all separate training concepts. Reactivity is a separate issue. If a dog becomes reactive while loose leash walking, we'd need to suspend the loose leash walking protocol to appropriately handle the reactivity.  

The first place to address reactivity is from inside the house. That's when you'll be the least stressed and the least embarrassed. It's hard to train when you're stressed and embarrassed. And, it's hard to learn when overwhelmed.

For reactivity, we'll be using Perception Modification and Name & Explain, (as taught to me by Mark McCabe). 

We want to: 

  • acknowledge things and events in the dog's environment

  • normalize those things

  • establish an appetitive state of mind when the dog experiences those things


If you've always told your dog "no", and have never found success, we'll actually start to tell your dog "yes"! 😉

All for now!

Kate

 

P.S. A huge shoutout to my mentor Mark McCabe! www.markmccabe.com

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