Dog Stress Levels

When a dog has gone over threshold, attempting to train them at that moment will be useless. A dog that is over threshold is in “survival mode.” Her sympathetic nervous system is activated, which controls her body’s response to the perceived threat. Adrenaline increases, heart rate increases, muscles contract and pupils dilate as her body reacts as if it were facing a life-or-death event. In these situations, it is better to just get the dog out of the fearful situation or to try to minimize its impact in these instances. If a trainer fails to look at the dog as an individual who is fearful and views the dog’s failure to obey as a dominance issue, the trainer may start punishing a fearful dog for misbehaving when the dog is actually scared. This is especially true if the trainer ignores the fact that some dogs’ “zone of tolerance” is larger than others. Therefore, some dogs will take far less stress before going “over threshold.” Punishing fear only compounds the fear. The dog may then intensify its attempts to run away, or even go into fight mode and attack the handler. But if the flight and fight do not work, and [...]