Reactivity in Dogs

What does Reactivity look like?

“Snowy would bark and lunge on her walks. Most of the time it would be at other dogs, sometimes it would be people in unusual clothing or sudden noises. (These are triggers for Snowy). Once she started barking it was difficult to calm her I often had to drag her away using the lead. She was completely unresponsive to any of the easiest skills like look or even responds to her name for at least 3 minutes.”
Jemima Snowy’s owner

white fluffy barkingUnfortunately, this behaviour is not uncommon. Reactivity is an over reaction, based on fear or lack of understanding to the situation leading to uncertainty and fear.

Dogs can be reactive to dogs, people, other animals, noises, motion  or any combination of these.

Simply, It is normal for your dog to bark once or twice when they are startled by a noise, person or animal. It is NOT NORMAL for that barking to continue into minutes or to continue when they meet that person or animal again after they have had a positive experience with them.

It is normal for your dog to become excited and animated when they see a new dog on a walk. It is NOT NORMAL for them to scream and lunge at the end of the leas every time they see a dog.

It is vital that you accept this and seek help.  Your dog is not coping, truthfully you are probably finding walking your dog very stressful too. But more to the point your dog, like Snowy, perceive this is the only way to behave when you are with them and the trigger is in sight.

You and your dog need help.

If you are not sure about your dogs behaviour , please consult us at

people reactive

Reactivity can be caused by overexcitement , frustration , anxiety or fear , having a session with a qualified dog trainer will assist in working out what is contributing to your dogs reactivity. THERE IS NO QUICK FIX. Any one advertising this is in my opinion a charlatan  and more than likely going to us punishing techniques on your dog and make the situation worse when they leave.

Here is a link to an article explain why punishment leads to aggression. Do check out the authors credentials as well as the trainers you choose to use.

Your dog did not become reactive overnight.

Communication and trust need to be rebuilt. It is important not to punish your dog for reactivity, as this will only increase your dog’s emotional arousal and make the problem worse.

Instead, work with your dog to teach them new ways to communicate their excitement, frustration, anxiety or fear.  Go to dog training to learn how to control your dog in the face of triggers but most importantly, how to manage your dog to prevent them becoming over aroused and reacting on the first place.

Do look at our Growly Greeters Class. For help and Training contact us or go to the Pet Professional Guild to find a trainer close to you.