Reactivity in Dogs - What It Is, Causes, & What to Do
with Karen Chapdelaine of TheTimelessDog, Training Advocate

Reactivity - What it is and What it isn't -

Reactivity is NOT aggression

Reactivity is most commonly confused with aggression

Reactivity in dogs is when a dog overreacts to certain situations or stimuli

Reactivity can spill over into aggression but it is important to know they are two different things. 

What Causes Reactivity -


Scary/bad experience

Fight vs Flight

Lack of Flight option

Without an escape option dogs are only left with Fight

Lack of socialization

Lack of training

Early Body Language Signs of Reactivity -


Lip Licking



Inability to settle or relax

Hackles raised*

*Hackles raised doesn’t always mean reactivity - can just mean overarousal 

Further Body Language Signs of Reactivity -

Ears pinned back

Whale eye

Tense body, leaning forward, stiff tail

Eye Contact that doesn’t break or is hard to break


Lip snarls

**Some of these signs can be misinterpreted as aggression 

What to do when your dog reacts -


Reactivity happens

Regression happens

Dogs bark

Create distance between you and the trigger

Think of a stop light

Red – stop, too close

Yellow – slow down, move away

Green – means go, this is where you want to work

Questions? Want to talk about this a little more? Send me a message!

Reactivity in Dogs - What It Is, Causes, & What to Do

Karen Chapdelaine of TheTimelessDog

Training Advocate
Dogly loves Karen because she helps us live life with our dogs in a way that's rewarding, calm, and happy - and does it with empathy.

Karen guides you

Aggression - Basic Manners - Marker Training - Enrichment - Leash Manners - Reactivity

Karen is certified

Certified Professional Dog Trainer Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA) - Fear Free Certified - DN-CET (DogNostic - Canine Enrichment Technician)