Reactive gundog

Reactive gundog

It can be hard work living life with a reactive gundog, but, imagine how much harder it must be for your gundog.

Reactivity isn’t a choice, it is an emotional response that normally comes from fear (there can be other causes of reactivity but for the purposes of this article I will be discussing fear-based reactivity).

Imagine for a moment that you are scared of something, things like spiders are normally a good example, and you are presented with whatever it is you fear. If you think about your likely reaction I am sure you will agree that it will be instinctive, an emotionally led one, you are unlikely to be making a conscious decision about how to react. 

When your dog sees whatever it is fearful of it simply reacts out of emotion, it isn’t making a calculated choice to bark and lung, it is trying to protect itself, to make itself appear big and scary to ward off whatever it has seen that has triggered the fear.

Having said that it does not mean that it isn’t frustrating for you as an owner, sometimes exhausting and for some people it is also embarrassing but all dog owners are united in the feeling that it is something you want to help your dog to stop doing.

There are a few top tips I have for you if you are struggling with a reactive dog:

  • Slow things down – When things get stressful we tend to speed up and hyperfocus, slowing things down allows us to see the bigger picture and to then respond more appropriately (there are more top tips on how to do this in my reactive dog special, join up to my mailing list to receive yours).
  • Stop – Stop and really look at what is happening, we often react to what we believe is happening, following old stories in our head or things we have been told but when we stop and look we can often see things in a whole new light
  • Think – Once you have taken the time to stop or slow down and you’ve gained some insights into what’s going on then think before reacting, is there a better way you can deal with what’s going on? One that can deepen your connection to your dog? How can you support your dog? Dogs do what works, if they are doing something you don’t want them to do you can support change in a positive way and turn things around.
  • Seek help – Reactivity can be a hard thing to deal with if you don’t understand why it is happening and what its purpose is for your dog. If you are doing all you can with the knowledge that you have and you are still struggling seek professional help from a positive trainer who can help you, it’s likely you’re just missing a bit of the picture and need help finding the missing piece or pieces to complete
  • Seek support – This can be through a trainer, such as me, supporting you through your journey, or it could be via groups that are created for reactive dog owners to share and uplift each other but wherever you seek support know that you are not alone.
Whatever you do, don’t punish your dog for its reactivity, it isn’t doing it to upset you or to be disobedient, it is not attempting to be a ‘pack leader’ or dominant, it is simply afraid.
How can you help your reactive dog today?

Content Disclaimer

The information contained above is provided for information purposes only. The contents of this article is not intended to amount to advice and you should not rely on any of the contents of this article. Professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from taking any action as a result of the contents of this article. Nina Fotara T/as Confident Canine disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on any of the contents of this article.

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