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Discussion Starter #1
Where does reactivity fall on the nerve scale? or is it related to nerves at all?
 

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I've been thinking about this, too.

My youngest is very confident, social, drivey, but she can be reactive- like if she sees someone she might bark at first, then ignore or greet if called on. She's very easy to call or control in this situation- its not a fear or aggression based behavior. Or if she hears something outside she'll go off with this high pitched bark. But at training, with other dogs, on the trails, she's perfect. Ignores other dogs and people, but friendly when called on. Absolutely trustworthy. For example, she ran a mass-start canicross race recently and was absolutely perfect (and did awesome too).

Is she reactive? I'm not sure. She's so social and confident, if she is reactive it doesn't come across as nerves?

I really don't know... she's excitable, for sure, high energy, but not sure it is reactivity or just... youth- she's still immature at 13 months old? Curious what others have to say.
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
I've been thinking about this, too.

My youngest is very confident, social, drivey, but she can be reactive- like if she sees someone she might bark at first, then ignore or greet if called on. She's very easy to call or control in this situation- its not a fear or aggression based behavior. Or if she hears something outside she'll go off with this high pitched bark. But at training, with other dogs, on the trails, she's perfect. Ignores other dogs and people, but friendly when called on. Absolutely trustworthy. For example, she ran a mass-start canicross race recently and was absolutely perfect (and did awesome too).

Is she reactive? I'm not sure. She's so social and confident, if she is reactive it doesn't come across as nerves?

I really don't know... she's excitable, for sure, high energy, but not sure it is reactivity or just... youth- she's still immature at 13 months old? Curious what others have to say.[/QUOTE
]
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I've been thinking about this, too.

My youngest is very confident, social, drivey, but she can be reactive- like if she sees someone she might bark at first, then ignore or greet if called on. She's very easy to call or control in this situation- its not a fear or aggression based behavior. Or if she hears something outside she'll go off with this high pitched bark. But at training, with other dogs, on the trails, she's perfect. Ignores other dogs and people, but friendly when called on. Absolutely trustworthy. For example, she ran a mass-start canicross race recently and was absolutely perfect (and did awesome too).

Is she reactive? I'm not sure. She's so social and confident, if she is reactive it doesn't come across as nerves?

I really don't know... she's excitable, for sure, high energy, but not sure it is reactivity or just... youth- she's still immature at 13 months old? Curious what others have to say.
I think youth is part of this and with maturity we may see change. Our male is 14 months.
 

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My take on "reactivity" is that (a) it can be challenging to figure out why, and (b) reactivity has many many variations, as do the causes and solutions!

So about now you're thinking, could you possibly be more vague? LOL!

Some puppies or dogs are reactive in a clearly fearful way. Tail is tucked tight, body is lowered, ears too, body is hunched and lowered, etc.

Others are reactive without ever showing these submissive signs. So "reactivity" can't rightly be lumped into a single category.

I had a rescue that showed all the submissive, fear based reactivity signs, who became one of the most confident, stable dogs I've ever known! So clearly, there's a lot about trying to analyze and understand the "why" that can require an experienced person!

That being said, reactivity for any reason usually requires the same or similar desensitization...time, patience, and clear feedback that isn't angry or over the top of your dog's threshold works if you keep yourself stable, calm, but insistent >:)
 

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My take on "reactivity" is that (a) it can be challenging to figure out why, and (b) reactivity has many many variations, as do the causes and solutions!

So about now you're thinking, could you possibly be more vague? LOL!

Some puppies or dogs are reactive in a clearly fearful way. Tail is tucked tight, body is lowered, ears too, body is hunched and lowered, etc.

Others are reactive without ever showing these submissive signs. So "reactivity" can't rightly be lumped into a single category.

I had a rescue that showed all the submissive, fear based reactivity signs, who became one of the most confident, stable dogs I've ever known! So clearly, there's a lot about trying to analyze and understand the "why" that can require an experienced person!

That being said, reactivity for any reason usually requires the same or similar desensitization...time, patience, and clear feedback that isn't angry or over the top of your dog's threshold works if you keep yourself stable, calm, but insistent >:)

Truly fearful dogs can be tougher to help get beyond the problem, but watching and reading their body language is key, keep desensitization sessions for your dog under their threshold, don't press them too far, and many can and will get beyond this...
 

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I think since "reactivity" has a wide range of reasons for it and a variety of situations that could trigger it, in and of itself is just one of many components that help determine nerve strength. Ex: a dog who is basically clear headed but also handler sensitive can become reactive to an owner who tends to startle from the unexpected but settles appropriately when given the command as opposed to out burst or over reactivity to that startle and the inability or willingness to calm down when commanded to.

The pup who becomes very attentive and alert but just watches when something is out of the norm as opposed to a pup who immediately reacts. My boy displays both depending so there is some nerveyness with some clear thinking in the mix so as a novice who has attempted to determine his nerve strength, it isn't perfect but training and proper exposure has helped shore up what he lacks. It is a fascinating subject.
 

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My seven-month old has started barking and lunging at dogs on walks lately. He seems to have an especial grudge against little, yappy ones. It seems odd to me because he's been in obedience since we got him and has spent a good amount of time with dogs, and he also goes to the dog park almost daily and does great with the vast majority of them (but again, little yappy dogs are his nemesis). Our other dog and he, unfortunately, do not get along and are always separated, but the leash-lunge thing is new.
 

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The definition of reactive as it pertains to this is essentially "a response to".

In broader terms you can be proactive-acting to prevent, or reactive-acting in response.

I believe the term reactivity as it pertains to dogs is grossly over used and essentially a cop out used to excuse aggressive and/or poorly trained dogs. Truly reactive dogs lack the confidence/mental stability/training/coping mechanisms to appropriately deal with a given stimulus.
Sometimes this is genetic and needs management and appropriate teaching, sometimes it is in response to trauma and sometimes it's just a butthead thing.
Response to trauma unless it is truly severe would again be genetic in it's origin since a stable dog should have natural coping skills.
As far as reacting to a handlers emotions, in a stable dog this reaction should be appropriate.

Sabi was the steadiest dog I have ever seen. I have an anxiety disorder that has definitely gotten worse over the years. There is NO question that Sabi could read it but at no point did it cause any inappropriate reaction regardless of the situation. I had a full blown panic attack while out for a walk one day and Sabi stayed calm and steady, focused on me while appropriately interacting with the general public. If they seemed to pushy for her she simply distracted/guided/herded them back away from me. She retained 100% of her PPD training, stayed clear headed and remained as a barrier between. Someone had called paramedics and she stayed close and vigilant without any aggression, easily standing out of the way while they spoke with me.

THAT is an appropriate reaction from a stable dog!

So in answer to the question, I guess at its base reactivity IS nerves. A weak nerved dog is most certainly going to be reactive, because reactivity would be any inappropriate reaction to stimulus.
 

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What about a steady old lab who has no reactivity at all, but also certainly doesn't have the nerves to handle a protection type scenario?
 

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What about a steady old lab who has no reactivity at all, but also certainly doesn't have the nerves to handle a protection type scenario?
I guess my question would be does heshe have weak nerves or just a Lab? Because a Lab should NOT have any level of aggression at all. Beyond natural defensive/self preservation a Lab has no reason to have any aggression and they were never supposed to be protective. That is not their job.
 
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