Our dogs arousal plays a huge part in how they feel, but what is arousal? Well, arousal is defined as the degree to which the brain is active. Kind of like a light bulb, as it wakes up, the light gets brighter. However, with a light bulb, eventually that light will pop if it gets to bright, this is similar with our dogs, if they become over aroused then we get reactivity, good or bad.
The chart shows how our dogs feel can be affected by arousal, as with a low aroused dog that sees or hears something they are not sure of this will create anxiety or worry, however if they are in a high aroused state, then this will become fear and that is when we get reactivity. Reactivity can either be in a happy state or a fearful state, however both of the behaviours can look exactly the same, whether that is jumping up and nipping, or lunging and barking.
When a reaction occurs from our dogs, they can do an endless list of things, such as chase, bite, bark, lunge, run, jump up or even just freeze. However calm dogs might just glance over then look away and carry on, quite often you won't even notice any response at all. We want to be able to help our dogs control their state of arousal, so if they do get over aroused, or even react, then they can come back down to calmness.