Trigger Stacking and Back to Basics

Discussion in 'Labrador Puppies' started by mummyp85, Nov 6, 2019 at 11:15 AM.

  1. mummyp85

    mummyp85 Registered Users

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    In a rare spare moment a few days ago, sat having a read through posts and some really older threads. Two phrases jumped out at me - Trigger Stacking and Back to Basics. The first I had never heard of before, so read up about it. The second phrase made an awful lot of sense. With triggers I guess the obvious ones - over stimulation, lots of noises, meeting people and other animals, etc , are ones you tend to be aware of and distract or cut off before reaching the point of no return where possible. After having observed Hero through the day closely, I was more surprised that it is the less obvious things with him which seem to lead to him becoming hyper, bitey, noisy and just plain not being able to distract him or get him to listen, which have not been glaringly apparent before sending him off in one. For example: next doors car door at 6am always sets him barking loudly and I have tried everything I can think of to get around it without success. But then after reading about Trigger Stacking, I actually sat and really listened and observed Hero in the half hour before the barking starts. Really surprised to find how many little things came before the car door - a bird twittering, a floorboard creaking, footsteps going past the front of house, somebody talking and then the car door , the final straw. When we get up,Hero goes outside to do the necessaries and then likes to have another half hour kip while I have a cuppa. Watching him over the last few days I've noticed that each tiny one of the sounds above disturbs him. He will settle again but then another sound and so on till we get to the car door and boom away he goes barking incessantly, running round and getting bitey. I know this is just one minor example but by observation and listening it has shown me how things can build without being obvious and then you have an uncontrollable pup. The very phrase 'Trigger Stacking' has made me so much more aware of what's going on in Hero's world and how to try to distract, remove, etc., Before he reaches breaking point. I have now been educated thanks to the lovely member who raised this point and it has made such a difference to both of us. Regarding another member who wrote about going back to basics, this is working brilliantly, not only with issues raised in the thread but also works to help Hero calm when he loses the plot so to speak. I have learned an invaluable lesson from these two helpful people and it works. If it works for Hero then it works for me. Incidentally, Because I am more aware, and have been more prepared, the last two days we have had NO 6am barking. Thank you for two such brilliant comments which have made such a difference even in such a short time. Now all I have to do is work out why the other Hooman in the house has to go back to basics every single blooming day and things will be peachy
     
  2. Joy

    Joy Registered Users

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    This was a lovely post to read. You sound so sensitive to your dog's needs that I'm sure you're going to build a wonderful relationship.
     
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  3. mummyp85

    mummyp85 Registered Users

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    Thank you. Hero is beyond important to me and has been a dream since my Golden Prince from childhood so what's best for him is all that counts. Having him after 50 years of waiting for the right time has rejuvenated my life. This forum has made so much difference to how we have approached and lived with having a puppy again.
     
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  4. LabSam

    LabSam Registered Users

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    What a lovely post. I was going through posts last night and talking with my family about Trigger Stacking (I'm sure we read the same post and I am also thankful to the person who shared the article, "Trigger Stacking: how we set our dogs up to fail").

    Our Sammy (14 weeks old) has gotten very bitey (has always been but more so than normal) and we have read and followed the articles on Labrador Site on how to manage overexcited puppies and biting (redirection to a toy-check!, ignore and walk out-check!, tether or crate for time out-check!, don't wear flowy clothes-check!, no roughhousing-check!, teach hand targeting and attention-check!) and yet the behavior has been persisting and seems to be getting worse over the last week or two.

    I've now been looking at possible triggers. Like you, I am going to observe and listen more to things that could be building up without being obvious. I'm also wondering, since I am home with him, if I'm not the trigger--doing too much with him that is too overstimulating, and not allowing for enough sleep and down time. It seems there is so much pressure to "cram" so much into their first 12-16 weeks for socialization and training (meeting people; having people over; puppy classes; dog playdates; play time outside; play time inside; sniff n strolls in the yard or neighborhood; food puzzles; basic training for recall, loose leash walking, sits/downs/stays). I'm thinking it has been too much for a puppy to process.

    I am going to observe more, listen more, and our house agreed to go back to basics for the next several weeks. Calm interactions, continuing to reward calm, allow for more down time and nap time, find a sweet spot of balance in physical and mental exercise--just enough but not too much, and giving more breathing space in his waking hours so he learns how to relax more on his own.

    So thankful for this forum!
     
  5. mummyp85

    mummyp85 Registered Users

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    Hello LabSam. Yep very true about following all the usual tips and still not working. I also am at home a lot and being Heroes main 'trainer' and source of everything good, I also wondered if it was my fault. Since being self critical I think in some ways I have sometimes tried too hard to get it right. Now following Back to Basics, I always make sure that after both physical and mental stimulation, I sit down with him, do a bit of right back to start stuff and once he has chilled out, get him to go to his comfy place for a nap. Although he does so well at some things he becomes over excited with some activities and enforcing down time has really helped. Labradors are such wonderful dogs but they ar only as good as the hoomans in their lives. You sound as though you are a loving Hooman for your Sammy and are not afraid to look at what you do affects him. Think we definitely learn a lot about ourselves when we get a puppy
     
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  6. Saffy/isla

    Saffy/isla Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    Hi my girl is now 21 months old and i completely agree with both you and Heroes mum.

    Sometimes we are steaming ahead trying to teach Isla so much that we forget to go back to basics. But it certainly works when we do, it calms her down and builds on our relationship. She loves doing the basic's as she knows what to expect and is confident.

    I am going to watch Isla as well and look for triggers that may not be obvious for some of her behaviours, so interesting, thank you both for reminding me about these things
     
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  7. sarah@forumHQ

    sarah@forumHQ Moderator

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    What a lovely thread!
     
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  8. Ruth Buckley

    Ruth Buckley Registered Users

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    The concept of trigger stacking was new to me but was so important to getting through Loki s awful bitey adolescence. For him car travel was a big problem and I had some nasty outbursts on the days we had been to training classes ( overtiredness and frustration at not being allowed to play with the other dogs contributed too). I'm not saying we shouldn't have gone to the classes but I should have been more aware of how stressful they were for him and taken things a bit easier.
    The best thing for us turned out to be just 'hanging out' not training or even playing necessarily. I have a nice spot by the river where we go and he swims/digs/paddles without too much interference from me, I take a book or indulge my social media addiction or swim myself if the weather allows. I think in the early days I was trying so hard to do everything right it was overwhelming for both of us.
     
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  9. mummyp85

    mummyp85 Registered Users

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    Hanging out sounds so lovely. We haven't managed to get there yet, but hoping to in the future. Tomorrow Hero reaches his 6 month birthday and it seems like we have never been without him. Without this forum don't think we would have still been in one piece by this point. Still a long way to go but when I get comments on how well he is doing, I give a silent thank you to everyone who has helped on the forum. Today has actually been really momentous for Hero - he actually sat and waited for someone to approach him and say hello on his walk. A monumental 1st. Had the madness when we got home though. Seems he thought he'd behaved well for too long and brought on payback lol. But Trigger Stacking, doing bitesize activities interspersed with down time and going back to basics really seem to be working at the moment. Maybe my diminishing wardrobe will survive without completely being full of holes. Next big test is monthly check up at vets tomorrow. He always gets so overexcitable when we go there, but made a few changes so wait to see what happens
     
  10. SianMJ

    SianMJ Registered Users

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    Now my little Gwenni can be triggered by most things around her! My clothes, especially if I’m wearing something new, new rug, other dogs, coming home, me coming home, getting wet in the rain... I could go on. I must say at 9 months she is starting to get little less reactive, thank goodness. Maturity is a blessing lol! Still gets silly but perhaps a little less OTT! We did hang out on a bench or two deliberately and learnt about settle down, which she still knows. Taking some time to understand things as far as possible from her perspective has helped me understand the challenges she has faced and still does, you have to work with some and definitely can’t work against them. This forum has helped me so much too ! Keep up the good work mummyp!
     

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