Navigating the Layered Stress Model in Dog Behaviour

Navigating the Layered Stress Model in Dog Behaviour

May 29, 2023


In the realm of dog behaviour, there’s an influential concept called the ‘Layered Stress Model.’ Some may know it as ‘Trigger stacking’ or ‘Educational scaffolding.’ Yet others relate it to the saying, ‘the last straw that broke the camel’s back.’


Understanding the Layered Stress Model

At times, your dog might act out due to seemingly random triggers. However, the culprits are often underlying stressors stacking up, and the trigger is just the final straw. The Layered Stress Model helps us understand these complex dynamics that drive our canine companions’ behaviour.


Layers of Stress: Health and Lifestyle

Two fundamental layers in this model are ‘Health’ and ‘Lifestyle.’ The health layer focuses on physiological issues, both chronic and acute. Before delving into behavioural correction, consult a vet and review your dog’s diet. A vet trained in muscular problems can provide valuable insights.

On the other hand, the lifestyle layer highlights the dog’s breed-specific needs, including exercise, social interactions, and other daily activities. Acknowledging these aspects is crucial to ensure a biologically appropriate lifestyle for your dog.


Defining Boundaries: The Clarity Layer

The ‘Clarity’ layer emphasizes rules, boundaries, and expectations. It is vital to be consistent and clear about your expectations to help your dog generalize concepts. A consistent environment reduces stress and builds trust between you and your furry friend.


Leash: A Tool of Communication or Frustration?

Then, we have the ‘Leash’ layer. It questions what the leash symbolizes for both the dog and the handler. Ideally, it should be a tool of communication, not frustration. Training both ends of the leash ensures harmony during your walks.


Unseen Culprits: Triggers

Finally, we consider the ‘Triggers.’ These are specific, uncontrollable events that might set your dog off. It’s essential to remember that often, the trigger isn’t the primary issue; it merely uncovers the accumulated stress your dog is experiencing.


Wrapping Up

Understanding the Layered Stress Model equips us to better understand our dogs, addressing their stressors in a comprehensive, empathetic way. Acknowledging and adjusting each layer can reduce unwanted behaviour and improve our dogs’ well-being.

Please remember to refer to the linked podcasts and videos for a deeper understanding of each layer. Happy reading, and here’s to happier, healthier dogs!

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