Thursday, December 8, 2011
Almost all reactive behavior issues are based in fear - including those that look like all out aggression. Reactive dogs are like Mad-eye Moody, they are always watching - watching for what may bite them - constantly alert. All that stress is what makes them a reactive dog. Hair trigger. They don't have any room left over to involve themselves in a decent engagement with a human or even other dogs.
Think also of the avoidance that you may feel in going to back to find those video clips and the emotions and stress you might feel when contemplating viewin them again - the remembered response from the first time you watched it and were s...tartled or even frightened. Now try to imagine how your dog feels everytime it sees another dog and remembers the leash jerking hard on it's neck, the bite it got at the dog park, the kick it might have received by someone in it's past when just trying to play with another dog.
Judging others, putting labels on them, seems to be so easy for humans to do and they extend this courtesy to their dogs. "he's dominant", "she's alpha", "he's so aggressive (when the behavior is just growling)" - statements so common that I wonder how people can believe that these labels can help the dog. If you break it down - the dog, upon seeing another dog, tensed; as the strange dog approached I saw my dog lick her lips, put her ears back, and get a crease between her eyes and when the strange dog was 10 feet away she lunged at it. Breaking it down this way, and realizing that the basis of these behaviors are most likely fear and you can come up with a plan to return your dog to normal.
Few dogs are born with or raised to have self-control. They are taught impulse control and self control first by their mothers, then by their siblings as they start their education in the form of play and mock fights and lastly by other adult dogs who are part of their social group.