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Fear vs. Frustration Reactivity - Why is my dog barking and lunging?

reactive dog training london ontario

By just looking at a barking and lunging dog, you might assume you have an aggressive dog on your hands.

Although many reactive dogs are barking and lunging to make the scary thing go away, many are either conflicted or frustrated about accessing other dogs. But we can’t know what the function of the behaviour is simply by observing the reaction, because they often look the same.

How do we know? While consulting with a trainer is recommended to tease this apart, a few questions I often ask include…

- has the dog had off leash experiences with other dogs, and how did it go?

- has the dog ever made contact with other dogs after reacting, and what happened?

- have the dog ever been attacked or had a bad experience with other dogs, and did the reactivity correlate with this event?

- If social off leash, how often is dog play available?

Often, reactivity is not fear or frustration, but a mix of the two. Consulting with a professional will help you to identify what is likely going on, and how best to address it.

About the author

Tess Morgan is a certified dog behaviour consultant and trainer in London, Ontario. She sees clients for in-home dog training in London, or virtually worldwide. She specializes in reactivity, fear, anxiety, separation anxiety and families with young children and dogs.

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