Positive and Negative Stress Events
Why do we need to consider Positive and Negative stress events? What does it means and why do we need to be aware of it?
This week we are going to delve into the stress bucket
Lots of people focus on and are aware of negative stress events that their dogs experience. For example; having a fearful experience such as hearing a firework. Negative stress events absolutely do get added to the stress bucket, but here’s the thing, so do positive stress events. A positive stress event is something like enjoying a high energy training session, a game of fetch or running an agility course. These are enjoyable events for our dogs but physiologically the same hormones are released whether your dog is experiencing negative or positive stress.
Think of it this way
Why do we need to be aware of the negative and positive events our dogs are experiencing? Think of it this way; each event represents a glass of water and each glass gets poured into the bucket. Like with all buckets, there is a limit as to how much water your dog’s stress bucket can take before it over-flows. If your dog’s stress bucket is full it is likely that you will be seeing behaviour responses to relatively mild encounters or to things your dog normally tolerates and is OK but all of a sudden isn’t. Ever thought; ‘he doesn’t normally react this way?’.
Here’s the very crucial thing
Once your dog’s stress bucket is full it can take an average of 72 hours before it starts to empty, that’s IF no further positive or negative stress events present themselves. So, if your dog is continuing to experience positive and/or negative stress events with a full bucket, you will likely see a continuation of behaviour responses, and so the cycle of reactivity goes on and gets rehearsed.
Don’t worry! There are ways to manage the bucket and there are things that you can do to ensure the bucket is being emptied and you can even grow your dog’s stress bucket with the ultimate aim that it never fills up in the first place. To ensure that your dog’s bucket is given the chance to be emptied the number one thing you should be working on all the time as a lifestyle is growing CALMNESS.