Why did my dog react?
You are walking along happily with your dog without a care in the world, pondering life, what you are doing that weekend or what you fancy having for dinner and suddenly out of the blue your dog hurls himself to the end of the lead barking and growling at something. He may never have done it before, or he even air snaps at you out of the blue when you are handling him and it is a real shock as he has never, ever done it before.
You just haven’t noticed several things that have happened in the environment that have worried your dog, he, however was well aware of them.
It is something us dog trainers call trigger stacking: In simpler terms just imagine a bucket that gets filled with stressful things your dog experiences. Once that bucket is full and it overflows he just can’t cope and the last thing to be dropped in that bucket is the thing he will react to.
What can happens in a dog’s day is that they meet a series of stress-inducing triggers. Each one of those scary things may be okay for your dog to handle without you knowing he is stressed about it and he appears to be okay, but two or three things in succession or all at the same time is way too much for him to handle and he has a meltdown.
You take your dog for a walk, its raining so your dog isn’t particularly loving it anyway, a plastic bag blows past him in the wind (startled and anxious), then a dog suddenly appears round the corner and barks at him a couple of times (really not happy about that but holding it together) just after that a man walks past with an umbrella (he has never seen an umbrella before) and …..boom! Your dog barks and lunges towards the Umbrella man.