You may have heard the term trigger be thrown around lot in the past few years. In psychology a trigger is anything that sets off a particular thought process, action, or response. Triggers are extremely personal – different for each individual. They are activated through one or more of our five sense: touch, sight, hearing, smell, or taste.
As man’s best friend – dogs are no different. They have triggers just like us, except that they usually do not have much control over their responses to them. Dogs wear their hearts on their fur, a reason we probably like them so much.
Now owners aren’t so much interested in stopping the positive behavior brought on by triggers, (tail wagging, licking, playfulness, etc.) but most would like to work on stopping the negative behaviors triggered by environment, people, other animals, and various stimuli.
Common Canine Triggers
If you’ve ever gone to a dog park then you probably know exactly what we’re talking about. What else do you expect with a bunch of excited pups who are unleashed and unfamiliar with one another? This environment can be one that makes your dog so excited he doesn’t listen, or it can be particularly stressful if your pup hasn’t been properly socialized and introduced to new situations.
Going out for walks
Going for walks is one way dogs and owners bond. However, some dogs become extremely aggressive when on a leash. Sometimes their aggressiveness is brought on by a natural instinct to protect themselves and their owner in an environment that is perceived as hostile. Feeling “trapped” on a leash is something that can lead to regular anxiety.
This is a big trigger for most dogs. They already know that being at the vet clinic means something unsavory is about to happen. Add in all of the other smells of pets dealing with some sort of malady along with whimpering and you can sense the same sort of fear that might be common in a human child visiting the doctor.
For a dog not used to being around a lot of other dogs for an extended period of time, this can be an overly stimulating experience in which they are operating almost exclusively off instinct. Who are all these other dogs? Are they friend? Foe? New food, people, sounds, and smells!
Someone else’s house
Your dog probably acts like an angel in your own home, but if you’ve ever taken them to someone else’s house, more than likely you’ve had to deal with a difficult dog at some point. Some dogs are extremely responsive in familiar environments, but much less so in new ones.
Just like people, some dogs get extremely anxious and even sick in moving vehicles. If they ever had a traumatic experience inside a car at some point, it’s almost guaranteed that they still remember the experience and now have a perception of all cars as being a threat.
Open air markets are a smorgasbord of sights, sounds, smells, and tastes – for you and your dog. Many times there will be other dogs present and you must keep in mind that they are all in a heightened state of stimulation.
Get ‘Triggered’ the right way.
At Pawderosa we work to encourage the positive behaviors that come out of your pup. One visit to our boarding facilities and your furry friend will be wagging for more, more, more!