• Oliver Ringrose

Trigger Stacking. Do you feel it?

Trigger / stress stacking or as my mum would say "the straw that breaks the camels back"

is something that is referenced and awful lot in dog training.

Really its not enough to know what it is, you really need to know how it feels and...

I think most of us have experienced it

but If not, I will have what you're having!


Trigger stacking speaks mainly about the animal building arousal when exposed to stimulating triggers, either in close succession or on-top of one another, together and the animal not getting the time, space or environment it needs to allow recovery, even to the point of building it until the animal is dysfunctional and you have an issue, or need of an ambulance.

For me its also important to think about the emotional side of trigger stacking because sometimes it takes us through emotion journeys and they can take their toll, they are not all necessarily bad emotional states either, triggers don`t need to be negative things, positive experiences can also stack, both can do it and you can`t cancel a negative with a positive, they stack together.

Animals with poor resilience will stack over larger intervals


As I write this, tomorrow is Monday, for many its the start of another working week or maybe its the start of the school holidays, so right at this moment many of you have already cocked the trigger for the day ahead and its not even here yet!

Picture this.....

Its Monday morning, beep... beep... the alarm arouses you from sleep for the start of the work day.

Except yesterday was Sunday and your alarm was set for lie in and you didn't reset it!

Crap... Your SHOCKED out of bed heart beat racing PANICING to get back on track.

You skate into the bathroom and try to comb your hair and brush your teeth at the same time, over taxing your motor skills and inevitably in the CONFUSION getting toothpaste in your eye, causing considerable PAIN and IRRITATION as if you don`t have enough to deal with already!

Into to the kitchen SEEKING some sort of start to your nutritional day, breads gone off, no time and to top it off someone's put the coffee spoon in the sugar pot,

you HATE coffee,

more DISAPOINTMENT, stuff it, need to get out the door asap.

With a dry digestive in mouth you're out the door, coat half on, half off, you pull the door behind you and move towards your car.

The door doesn`t shut, you return and do it again,

a little bit of a "ffs" slips out in a burst of ANGER at yourself and the world that seems to be against you!

Keys in, start the car,

the car your teenage parked up the night before...

Only to be SHOCKED half way out the seat by some god awful excuse for music that comes blaring out like a jet breaking the sound barrier,

A little more passive AGRESSION slips from your lips!

right that's off, get on the road.

Delays.... Roadworks....Maybe a bit of road RAGE in the PANIC to get to work on time, ANXIETY building, situation is getting out of CONTROL


Finally you get in the office hoping for RELIEF and with toothpaste as highlights,

HUNGRY, THIRSTY, gagging for a decent cuppa tea to wash down that bloody REGRETFUL decision of a digestive and your work college walks in and asks...

"did you manage to get that thing finished?"


Trigger stacking, the many straws that eventually break your back.

A response comes out that you would be enRAGEd to receive yourself, something that is totally disproportionate to the situation and out of character, and really depending on what sort of character you just pushed that response onto, you might just have started a war you didn't set out to start when you went to bed last night.


Its not a dog in the story, but do you feel it?

Can you empathize with this silly story?

Because dogs are feeling it, the question is can you empathize with them, that's is a lot harder to do because your not a dog, but you can definitely try and probably should.

Because walk through this world together.

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