Anxiety Awareness | Loki's Reactivity Journey
Reactivity is often confused with aggression and whilst some of the reactions can often look similar, they are not the same.
As part of our Dog Owners Guide | Health & Care Awareness Blogs, we take a look at; What Reactivity is, What some of the common triggers are &why reactivity often gets mistaken for aggression. Plus we share Loki's, Reactivity Journey.
All information shared within this blog is for awareness purposes only & not medical advice. If you have any concerns about the Health and/or Care of your Dog please seek medical advice from a professional veterinarian.
What is Reactivity ??
Dog Reactivity is usually caused by anxiety or simply feeling uncomfortable, this can manifest itself as defensive because something seems threatening.
Sometimes it can even be caused out of frustration of not being able to do something and your Pup simply not knowing how to control these emotions. It can then very quickly be reinforced that how they are acting is correct, as the threat may go away. Much like us humans they need to be guided on how to handle their emotions calmly. It's not always easy to read your Dogs body language, particularly their early warning signs. Some of these emotions can present themselves as:
- Yawning (when not sleepy)
- Cower and hide
- Lift one paw
What are some of the Common triggers ??
Every Dog is different, just like us Hoomans and what makes one Dog reactive could be completely different from another! Some of the most common triggers that set off reactive Dogs include:
- Other Dogs or people passing by or approaching them quickly
- People wearing hats or anything that covers their face
- Barriers such as crates or fences prevent them from accessing an area
WHY DOES REACTIVITY GET MISTAKEN FOR AGGRESSION ??
The reason that reactivity very quickly gets mistaken for aggression is that a reactive dog's excitement and anxiety can cause them to exhibit aggressive behaviour. If left unaddressed, the aggression may get worse.
Aggressive behaviour is about creating distance from something; the dog is essentially trying to drive a threat away. Most aggressive behaviour stems from fear.
If a dog frequently acts aggressively (and not necessarily in response to an understandable stimulus), there's probably a deeper issue going on—possibly even a health concern. If this behaviour has suddenly arisen from nowhere, your Dog could be trying to tell you they're in pain!
How to Reduce Reactive Behaviour ??
Helping your pup overcome reactive behaviour involves both understanding his triggers and doing some training.
- Figuring Out Your Dog's Triggers: keep a journal and write down when your Dog has a reactive moment, noting as many details as possible - this will help you spot what's triggering your dog. A Veterinary Behavioural Specialist will be able to help you with this, as it can be genetic or environmental.
- Desensitisation: Reactive dogs have learned to be afraid of certain things, you need to help them develop new emotional responses and feel comfortable around what previously set them off.
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