Traffic Lights for Managing Distance




You can use a traffic light system to help you decide when your dog needs more space in any situation.

Green is when your dog can watch a trigger with mild interest without showing concern. Your dog is comfortable and you don’t have to do anything to support them.

Amber is when your dog shows some signs of arousal or avoidance. Look for changes in their body language. This is a critical point that can easily turn to red without action. You can support your dog by moving them further away or giving them a calming activity to do until they are back in Green.

Red is when your dog is actively reacting by barking, growling or lunging. You need to move your dog away from the trigger urgently and help them de-escalate.

Your aim is to keep your dog between Green and Amber. Here they are able to learn and make choices.

Sometimes you will find that your dog moves quickly into Red. If your dog struggles no matter the distance you will need to manage exposure to their triggers very carefully. Work on helping your dog to reset and lowering their overall arousal level as well as setting achievable goals.

The distance that your dog needs will vary depending on the trigger. Your dog’s body language will tell you if they are in the Green, Amber or Red zone. Watch carefully and take action to keep your dog in Green as much as possible.

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