Do you have a ‘reactive’ dog?

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What does it mean when a dog is called 'reactive'?

This label is put on many dogs, from those that bark when the doorbell goes, all the way up to dogs who growl and lunge at people or dogs on a walk.

Usually it's placed on a dog in a negative light. It can make you feel that you've got a devil dog who needs to be fixed. Understandably, this leads to owners feeling negative about their dog’s behaviour. 

Hands up if this was you, or if this is how you feel right now about your dog. I can relate - I’ve been there.

The problem is, this isn’t the greatest mindset to be in for any training situation, let alone such a challenging one.

The pressure of society

A mistake most people make is allowing the pressure of social norms to put unrealistic, or unnecessary,  expectations on our lives with our dogs.

Dogs must run off lead every day. Yes, of course we'd all love our dogs to have this freedom. But what if this was actually hindering their training progress? Or actually stressing them out?

Dogs must be friendly and want to play with every dog they meet. Why? Have you got on with every person you've ever met in your life? I'd bet not. So why do we expect our dogs to? My ultimate goal for a dog is for them to see other dogs and simply not care. 
Every dog is different. By trying to get them to fit into what we, as humans, think is socially acceptable, we can end up putting our dogs into situations which they aren’t always OK with.

A different way of looking at this is, when a dog reacts they are often saying, ‘This is scary.’ or ‘This is too much for me to cope with.’

Think about the situations that are causing negative reactions from your dog, and ask yourself these questions.
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Is it vital that my dog does this / goes to this place?
Is there any way I can make it easier for my dog?
Could we do something else instead?
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Give yourself permission to go against the expected. Do what is best for your dog. Don't worry about what that random person down the road thinks.

If you're seeing some unwanted behaviours from your dog and don't know where to start, why not arrange a 1-2-1 with Gemma?
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