Understanding Reactivity in Border Collies

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Reactivity in dogs is a term that often raises questions and sparks debates among dog owners and trainers as some don’t like the word “reactive” as it doesn’t explain exactly what it is that your going is going through.
In some ways I agree but I find this is the term that most people understand so I will keep using it while I explain better what it means, for me.

What exactly does it mean to have a reactive dog? In this blog post, we will explore the concept of reactivity, shedding light on what it entails and why it’s essential to understand. We’ll also offer a sneak peek into an upcoming webinar where you can delve deeper into this intriguing topic.

Defining Reactivity :

“A ‘reactive dog’ is a dog that responds in an intense and often challenging way to various stimuli, driven by overwhelming emotions, often referred to as ‘BIG FEELINGS.’

This definition highlights the key elements of reactivity, which include intense emotional responses and behaviours that may seem unusual for the given situation. In essence, reactivity represents a dog’s struggle to cope with emotions, leading to expressions that can be challenging for both the dog and their human companions.

Signs of Reactivity

Reactive dogs often exhibit a range of behaviors that can be disconcerting and, at times, difficult to manage. Recognizing these signs is crucial for dog owners and trainers alike. Common indicators of reactivity include:

  1. Excessive barking
  2. Pulling or lunging on the leash
  3. Whining
  4. Inability to take treats or focus
  5. Spinning
  6. Panting
  7. Growling towards the stimulus
  8. Chasing or wanting to push away the trigger
  9. Nipping, mouthing, or grabbing
  10. Looking like they want to “dominate” or win over something
  11. Shaking

These behaviours are typically triggered by specific stimuli that challenge the dog’s emotional state. It’s important to note that a reactive dog may display one or more of these behaviours, depending on the situation and their individual triggers.

Understanding Emotions Behind Reactivity

To truly comprehend reactivity in dogs, it’s essential to look beyond the surface behaviours and delve into the underlying emotions that drive these responses. Reactive dogs often experience fear, anxiety, frustration, or high arousal or a combination of these “BIG FEELINGS.”

For example, a dog who barks and lunges at other dogs on walks may be reacting out of fear or frustration. Similarly, a dog that growls when approached by strangers may be doing so because of anxiety. A Border Collie wanting to herd or chase a car can be both scared, anxious or simple over aroused by the fast movement. Recognising these emotions and their connection to reactivity is a crucial step in helping your dog.

Reactivity in dogs is a complex and multi-faceted issue that can manifest in a variety of ways. Understanding the concept of reactivity as intense emotional responses and challenging behaviors is the first step toward helping your reactive Border Collie . By acknowledging the underlying emotions, you can work towards addressing the root causes and improving your dog’s behaviour and well-being.

If you’re eager to explore this topic further and gain valuable insights into managing reactivity in dogs, be sure to sign up for the webinar. Our webinar will delve into practical strategies and expert advice to help you and your dog navigate the challenges of reactivity. 🐕🎓

The webinar is available at a very special price ONLY for Live Tickets (if you buy a Live Ticket you will also get the recording, if you can’t attend live) of £8.99

Register here:

Martina Miradoli Border Coolie Expert Dog trainer

Hello, my name is Martina Miradoli and I specialise in training Border Collies.

I’ve owned Border Collies for many years and have trained them, along with other herding breeds in every sport and activity available.

This has allowed me to gain invaluable experience and an understanding of these unique dogs and the behavioural challenges that we may have to face as owners. 

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