Canines exhibit many different behaviors, many of which we, as their owners, don’t inherently understand. Often, a habit that’s casual to them might seem aggressive to us, and it’s important to know the difference. Knowing whether your dog is reactive or aggressive can drastically impact your approach to training them. So, in the following blog, we’ll discuss the differences between reactive and aggressive dogs and how this will influence your educational efforts.
It’s very easy for dogs, particularly puppies, to overstimulate themselves when interacting with the environment around them. Things like play, socialization, and new experiences can overwhelm them and trigger anxiety, stress, or even fear. When this happens, your dog may jump on people, pull at their leash, or generally become unresponsive to what you say. Reactivity means that your dog doesn’t know how to handle their excitement, causing them to behave in ways that aren’t constructive in that situation. These actions aren’t necessarily dangerous, but they are responsive to a stressor that the dog is experiencing.
Dog aggression, on the other hand, stems purely from fear. Reactivity and aggression do have some things in common, but aggressive dogs will continue to lash out even after the perceived threat passes. This indicates that the anxiety is much more severe than in the case of simple overstimulation. In an aggressive state, dogs will snarl, bite, and stiffen their posture. While the line between aggression and reactivity can be fine, being able to identify when your dog becomes aggressive will be crucial to preventing injury.
The Different Training Approaches
Now that you know the core differences between reactive and aggressive dogs, it’s time to discuss how this distinction can affect your pet’s overall training. In both cases, it’s important to limit your dog’s level of exposure to outside stimuli. For reactive dogs, though, it’s important to socialize them slowly to reduce the strength of their anxiety response.
For aggressive dogs, you need to work even slower to get them used to certain stimuli. It’s also vital that you put protective measures in place. Working with a professional who knows how to handle canine aggression can be a great resource for you.
Training your dog, whether reactive or aggressive, can be a challenging endeavor. This is where we at Balanced K9 Academy can help. We offer fundamental obedience training that covers all your pup needs to know, and we also specialize in aggressive dog board and train services. We have decades of experience working with aggressive or fearful canines and know exactly how to approach these cases. Contact us today to learn more.