The Disengagement Theory for Dog Behaviour
Creating Natural withdrawal or disengagement
As professional trainers and behaviourists we are faced with strong criticism when we state that a dog’s adverse behaviour is just a momentary engagement caused by a change in the state of mind.The disengagement theory for dog behaviour is that all dogs will exhibit, stress, anxiety or fear at some point, this is fact. It is all natural and acceptable in Canine society.
As professional trainers and behaviourists we are faced with strong criticism when we state that a dog’s adverse behaviour is just a momentary engagement caused by a change in the state of mind.
The disengagement theory is based on psychological theories that describe how dogs develop unwanted behaviours.
When a dog develops a fear, this is instinctual and causes apprehension resulting in a change of mindset towards the presenting external threat. Anxiety however is more of an anticipation of unknown dangers or threats; this can be a result of imagined origins or past memories/experiences.
When either fear or anxiety is present the change in a dog’s behaviour can be substantial. The most common visible behaviours are defecation, destruction, and excessive vocalisation. What we also have to be aware of is that the natural chemicals produced by the body during these times of stress, anxiety, fear or excitement do not reach critical levels.
So working on the theory that much adverse behaviour is caused by a change in the mind we have to disengage the mind and refocus using a combination of desensitisation and counter-conditioning and behaviour modification to achieve a calm state of mind.
Through encouragement of calm state and reduction in reinforcing the fear reaction we are able to tap into the mind enabling the dog to naturally decrease its reaction to the presented stimuli.
Once a dog is able to disengage its fear, anxieties and excitement then simple controlled exposure to the stimulus that usually causes a response can be repeated with no more undesirable responses. This then becomes a natural withdrawal or disengagement.