Why is trigger stacking important?
Trigger stacking is a really important for any dog owner to understand. It can explain why your dog may want to do some things sometimes, and not at others; why they may be grumpier about something at specific times; why they may react to something that they are normally fine with, or why a more excessive reaction occurs than what you were expecting.
What are we stacking?
Stress refers to anything that takes your dog away from this baseline. Now this can be things that cause them worry, such as their worst fear. Or it could be things that cause them physical comfort and physically take us away from baseline. Needing a drink of water is a stressor, but not as strongly as dehydration is a stressor.
Stress gets a bit of a bad reputation but things that we love doing, things that are exciting also cause us ‘stress’. I love lifting weights but it causes my body to leave its baseline. Sometimes the physical pain I’m left in after a particular set of vile deadlifts cause me stress the next day when I’m faced with a flight of stairs. For my dogs, the things they love take their bodies away from baseline too. Pumba adores water, to the point that he would make himself ill. I have no doubt that when he is obsessively drinking water from a paddling pool that he is taking his body away from baseline. Certainly his kidneys have to work harder to process all of that water. When he’s grunting in excitement as we approach the beach so he can fetch toys in and out of the water, his body is far from that baseline he is in when he’s chilling on the sofa at home. Sonic adores seeing people and other dogs but requires a lot of sleep afterwards to recover and get herself back to baseline. These exciting experiences lead to trigger stacking as much as the ‘bad’ experiences.