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What You Need To Know About Reactivity Vs. Aggressiveness in Dogs


One of the main goals you should have as a dog owner is keeping your furry family member happy and healthy. Dogs that are comfortable in their surroundings tend to be extremely gentle and kind. However, some dogs have a hard time allowing their gentle and kind side shine through when around strangers. If your dog barks, jumps or attempts to bite when introduced to strangers, you need to figure out why.


Nearly 1,000 people are treated for injuries related to dog bits every day in the United States. Rather than waiting until your dog’s bad behavior causes injury to another human, you need to take action.


Figuring out whether these bad behaviors are caused by aggressiveness or reactivity is important. Once you know this information, you can figure out the right way to address the problem at hand. Here is what you need to know about reactivity vs. aggressiveness in dogs.


Dealing With Your Reactive Dog

A dog that feels nervous around strangers will exhibit bad behaviors because they’re over-reactive. If a dog feels over-stimulated in ordinary situations, it might act out. Generally, dogs that lack socialization will get frightened when introduced to unfamiliar people or situations.


A few of the most common reactive behaviors a dog might exhibit are:

· Cowering

· Barking

· Hyper-vigilance

· Growling

· Lunging


Past trauma can cause these reactive behaviors. Some dogs are scared of a human towering over them due to past abuse. The more you know about your dog’s past, the easier it will be to develop a good treatment plan for their reactive behaviors.


Signs That Your Dog is Naturally Aggressive

Most dog owners are unable to make the distinction between reactive and aggressive behaviors until it is too late. Like a reactive dog, an aggressive dog is usually afraid of its surroundings. In some cases, this fear will cause a dog to lash out and become extremely aggressive.


Some aggression is caused by resource guarding. This happens when a dog wants to protect things like areas of its home, its owner or food from strangers. Aggressive dogs will display behaviors like:

· Snarling

· Biting

· Snapping

· Body stiffening

· Lifting of the lip


Aggression is a byproduct of a dog’s fear of strangers and certain forms of stimulation. Reactivity is considered a heightened state of arousal from a particular trigger. Knowing the difference between these two issues can help you properly treat your dog.


Professional Dog Training is a Great Solution

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when trying to treat reactivity or aggression is punishing your dog for its behavior. If you truly want to help your dog overcome these problems, then working with the right trainer is imperative. In some cases, group training is used to socialize a dog and eliminate their bad behaviors.


Is your dog expressing reactive or aggressive behaviors around strangers? If so, it is time to check out the training services offered by The Dog Training Academy.

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