TRIGGER STACKING? WHAT'S THAT??
This is another term you will hear a lot in dog training, rescue and in regards to behaviour modification. Trigger stacking is when too many stimuli that creates a stress response in the dog, occurs in a short period of time.
The stress reaction within the dog is not something that he can control and most certainly isn't an enjoyable experience. It is a natural survival response to a perceived threat or harmful event.
WHAT HAPPENS TO MY DOG WHEN HE IS STRESSED?
The stress response of the body includes a rush of cortisol and a huge production of adrenaline ready for the freeze, flight or fight response. Each time the dog encounters a stimulus which causes stress the body responds, pushing the dog further and further into that stress reaction.
The production of the natural hormone adrenaline increases the heart rate and blood pressure, expands air passages to the lungs, enlarges the pupil in the eye and redistributes blood to the muscles whilst the release of the hormone cortisol helps control blood sugar levels and regulate metabolism (amongst other things). During a period of stress your dogs body is in over drive and its working hard!!
Living in a prolonged state of stress can significantly affect your dogs health so it is important to identify triggers to the stress response and remove or adjust them
It's also important to remember that the dog’s stress reaction is based on his own learning experiences, fears, personality, genetics and ability to cope. It is not based on things we may consider to be worrying to him!
SO HOW CAN I HELP MY DOG?
Stress needs time to reverse!! While the stress reaction will onset quickly and the dog’s brain quickly moves to reactivity or shut down (Fight or Flight), the reversal of this response is much, much slower.
This is where trigger stacking comes in. A big stress trigger can take a dog 36 hours for recovery. If we add more stress triggers, whilst the dog’s brain is in reverse, the brain goes into an unhealthy forward and reverse battle. More stress triggers mean more arousal and eventually the dog will reach his threshold and react.
After trigger stacking, a period of decompression is essential. For more information about decompression in dogs then please check out our blog by clicking this link :
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