Reactive Dogs 101: The Unexpecteds

There are so many things that go into the entire well-being of our pets that often go overlooked. Dogs can be depressed, sore from too much exercise, anxious, fearful, bored, in pain from a displaced rib, sprained paw, and so much more. We can tend to simplify dog’s experiences in the world since they can’t tell us with their own words how they’re feeling, but if you know what to look for, their behavior can be incredibly informative on how they’re doing nose to tail. 

Reactivity can be a symptom of something deeper going on, especially if it seems to come on suddenly and without easily understood reasons. Treating the underlying physical reasons your dog might be reactive should be part of a holistic approach to modifying your dog’s behavior to keep them happy, healthy, and safe. 

I’m a big believer in species appropriate diets so I meal prep raw food for Waylon and Tiva. Why do I feel so strongly about what they eat? Just like humans, what dogs consume can have a direct affect on the gut microbiome, which in turn can cause changes in their mood and behavior. Inflammation, food sensitivities, trouble managing blood sugar are all pieces of the puzzle to a poor diet.

Raw Feeding Meal Prep Day in the AGF House!

Going raw fed can be intimidating, so if you feel like you’re not quite there yet consider adding nutrient dense food to your dog’s processed food as a supplement. Not sure where to get started with raw feeding? My Instagram page has a highlight showing tons of raw meals I put together for Waylon and Tiva.  

In addition to feeding your pups a sound, nutrient dense and species specific diet, consider their physical health. 

If they will let you, run a medium firm hand down their spine and notice how they react. Did a muscle twitch? Did they turn around to see what was going on? Did they pull away from you? All of these reactions are information about how they’re feeling. Consider seeing a vet if their response seems more extreme than expected. There are lots of tools at our disposal to help dogs who are experiencing joint pain, inflammation, activity injuries and more. 

Practicing a sustained nose touch or chin rest is a great way to get consent to check them over!

Waylon and Tiva see a vet chiropractor, receive acupuncture, get massages and cold laser as needed to keep them healthy and comfortable. Dogs that are experiencing some kind of pain are definitely more likely to be reactive to triggers of any kind. Let’s face it, you have the flu and your boss is sending you zillions of emails with crazy asks? Of course you’re cranky. 

You can also supplement with CBD – I am a big fan of the VetCS brand (use code DISORDERLYDOGS for 10% off), created by veterinary professionals with the science to back their product. This can help mental and physical health when combined with appropriate diet, exercise, and training practices.

Now that we’ve looked at the unexpected culprits of reactivity, the next blog will wrap us up and tell you what not to do. Plus a few action items AND an opportunity to work with me but from the comfort of your own home and sweatpants.

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