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Reactive Dogs

What is a "Reactive Dog"? A reactive dog can show unwanted behaviours such as lunging and barking at triggers such as other dogs, people or even vehicles.

What causes a dog to be reactive? There are many reasons why a dog may be reactive. Some may be genetically inclined to be nervous, others may have had a bad experience with the trigger previously, and others may feel restricted while on lead. The majority of reactive dogs have an emotional or medical aspect to their reactivity and is not a reflection on their training or obedience. Is it okay if I let my friendly dog say hello to others? Always put your dog on lead if you see another dog on a short lead before they might run over to say hello. You can ask if it's okay to say hello, but respect the dog and their owner if they say no. If the dog on lead is nervous of other dogs then even a friendly dog may set back the nervous dog's confidence. Remember that everyone is entitled to enjoy public places safely.

How can I recognise someone with a reactive dog? Usually people with a reactive dog will try to keep a good distance between them and the dog's trigger. This may be avoiding people, or avoiding dogs. Some may wear Hi-Visibility clothing on themselves and "I Need Space" or "Nervous" on their dog.

What should I do if I see someone with a reactive dog?

Always respect the distance they try to create, and if you see someone trying to cross over a road while checking how close you are to them - wait where you are until after they've crossed over safely (they really will be grateful). Make sure your dog is on a short lead so they don't risk running up to the other dog. Respect the owner if they say not to pet the dog because he/she is nervous. I'll soon write a blog on a special "Traffic Light System" that can be used by owners of reactive dogs to help other people recognise them and their triggers.

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