Understanding Trigger Stacking

09/02/2022

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UNDERSTANDING TRIGGER STACKING

Every day your dog will experience things which get them excited or perhaps concern them. It is normal for dogs to have a range of emotions to the things happening in the world around them. It’s our goal to help them develop resilience and the ability to relax in the situations they encounter each day.

When it comes to stress (both positive and negative) it’s important to realise that it is cumulative. That means that unless your dog has a chance to fully relax between experiences, their stress level could continue to rise with each experience.

This can lead to your dog reacting strongly to something that usually wouldn’t bother them to that degree. They might bark, pull, jump up, grab the lead among other behaviours.

This effect is called trigger stacking.

It’s exactly the same as it is for humans. Imagine a morning that starts with finding out your car has a flat tyre. Then after fitting the spare, you are running behind so get stuck in heavy traffic. Then when you arrive at the office you are rushing and spill your coffee all over your computer and then you head over to an important meeting, only to trip over as you enter the room. After these experiences in quick succession, it is likely that at some point stress will cause you to overreact or act out of character in response to the next thing that comes along.

This is exactly the same for dogs. They might cope with greeting a neighbour one day, watching children at the park the next and going to the groomers later in the week. But if these things all happen in short succession, your dog might not be able to remain calm in the same situations.

It’s important to be aware of this plan time to rest into your dog’s daily routine. Don’t be afraid to alter plans to help set your dog up for success if you notice things are unfolding in a way which will quickly become too much for your dog to cope with.

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