Reading Assessment Results

So you’ve run your baseline assessment and you might be surprised by the results. You might be feeling anxious because you’re at #groundzero – starting with PDQs or the closing of the door. Perhaps you’ve been working at this for a while and you are 10 minutes in before you see signs of stress. Or 45 minutes. Or an hour! Who knows! Either way, you are exactly where you are meant to be and we’re going to work at it together.Let’s talk about reading these results and understanding where our dog it in the process. 

Your initial assessment was run as a “cold trial” without any warm-up and so it was more challenging for your dog than what we are about to embark on. This is done on purpose so that we can get a clear, organic perspective of where our dog’s baseline is located. 

The threshold is the line that is crossed when our dog goes from relaxed to worried/anxious. When we push past that line, we are basically hitting the power switch on their brain’s learning centre because stress inhibits learning. During this program, we will keep your dog sub-threshold (just under that line) so that they can learn and retain the information and so we can increase their resilience to absences gradually and that line is going to move further and further away from the key in the lock as you meet your milestones.

green, yellow, orange, red zones

We are going to watch closely so that we don’t go backwards in our training. We might proceed with caution if your dog starts to show signs of stress, but we’ll definitely abort the mission if your dog starts to show signs of distress. 

Keep in mind that your dog’s threshold may change from day to day, depending on outside factors, but we will get to that part shortly as it’s all about Data Tracking!Stress signals may include: hyper-vigilance, shadowing, lip-licking, yawning, lowered head, trembling / shaking, lifted paw, lowered ears, walking slowly or freezing, panting, anorexia (food avoidance), mild or intermittent vocalisations (whine/bark/howl). 

Distress signals may include: scratching at exit points, intensified vocalisations (whine/bark/howl), destruction, repetitive behaviours, increased grooming, urination / defecation, self-harm, escaping (or attempts), drooling, sweaty paws, vomiting, aggression.

In your Baseline Assessment workbook from Module 1, note these zones and remember that they may start during PDQs for some dogs and during the absence for others. 

We have to work with our dogs when they are relaxed as much as possible. Otherwise, learning cannot take place! 

Let’s say your dog started panting and whining at 8 seconds. That means we’ve got to start just below that to keep them sub-threshold. 5-7 seconds, it is! 

Let’s say your dog started barking when the door closed. Your dog’s baseline is 0 seconds. We’ll start in the PDQs. 

Let’s say your dog started showing stress signals during the PDQs. Well…you can’t go much further back than that, so we’ll start in the PDQs too! #groundzero it is! This is where most dogs start. 

Make sense?

Caveat: if your dog is in the group that doesn’t show signs of stress until the actual absence (after the door is closed and locked), monitor closely for stress signals during the PDQs as it may still be very beneficial to start there in order to patch up any cracks in the foundation.