It just doesn't make sense to most dog lovers with reactive dogs in their family when their naturally loving dog suddenly bites them or other dogs living in the same household. Animal behaviorists and seasoned dog trainers call this type of behavior re-direction.

Re-direction happens when the dog gets so worked up over an event that they don't know how to express its feelings. Think of it this way. You have a bad day at work, and when you get home, someone says something that makes you angry, and you retaliate by saying or doing something you wish you hadn't. That's a re-direction. You are taking things out on the ones you love. Fear, frustration, or anxiety are the factors that cause most reactive dogs to redirect their frustration on others, other dogs, things, or people, yes, even on their loving owners.

The longer the dog remains in a state of frustration or anxiety, the more likely it will redirect to others. Some of the causes of stress in dogs include; Fear of strangers, children, cars, or anything that moves, separation anxiety, and loud noises like fireworks and thunderstorms. Being restrained, sometimes called leash aggression, fence aka barrier aggression, is also known to cause anxiety in some dogs. Barrier aggression can happen when two or more dogs are behind a barrier, such as a gate, door, or fence, and want to get to the other side. The excitement of getting to the other side can cause behaviors such as barking, lunging, and clawing at the barrier. The type of behavior can quickly turn to frustration which often leads to barrier aggression, and they turn (redirecting their frustration) on each other.

Awareness of your dog's environment and history of redirecting behavior toward you or others is essential in overcoming this problem. Be proactive when you notice your dog's behavior escalating instead of reacting once the situation is out of control.

Training cues like Leave-it and Focus can help draw your dog's attention away from distractions and onto you.   Keeping your distance from distractions when on walks and offering treats while your dog is calm are also great ways to eliminate redirecting behaviors. Living with a dog that turns his frustration on others is stressful and dangerous for dog owners, especially if their dog is prone to shifting behavior and biting them or others.

We have certified trainers that are eager to help you and your dog get on the right paw!