Baselines & thresholds

The key to successful behaviour modification is knowing your dog’s baseline so that you know where to start. If your dog shows no sign of anxiety until you’ve been gone for 30 minutes, then you may not want to start with a 2 second absence! That might be a little conservative. If your dog suffers from anxiety before you even put the key in the lock, you are not going to push to 10 minutes right off the bat. We have to assess the baseline and be very mindful of our dogs’ threshold. 

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 subthreshold (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. 

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. 

The dog’s threshold is determined by the body language cues that the dog exhibits. If we’re looking at some mild signals (getting up and following to the door, for example) then we might not consider that the threshold, but instead simply approaching the threshold. 

Lessons in this Course: