Does exercise increase reactivity?

by 29 Sep, 2023

First off, I need to say that I am very much pro exercise and meeting needs. And also…
…there are different types of exercises; some are high arousal, high intensity (e.g., chasing games, agility, tug), and some are low intensity, low arousal (e.g., trotting around the woods, tracking, etc.).
If we think of reactivity as a heightened state of arousal leading to a disproportionate response to inoffensive stimuli, we can see how too much high arousal activity, coupled with insufficient opportunities for the nervous system to regulate, may be counterproductive.
This does not mean that I don’t think reactive dogs should do high arousal activities! For many dogs, high intensity exercise may even be a need. However, I do think that dogs need to be given a variety of outlets, with some of these being low intensity, low arousal activities that help regulate the nervous system. Everything is a balance. And every dog is different.
So, exercise in and of itself does not cause or exacerbate reactivity. However, too much of the wrong type of exercise can be problematic.

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