When we start a consulting or training relationship, we should first ensure we have a contract with the client. As professionals working with animals, there are multiple liability risks open to us. Most of these will stem from one of three areas. Firstly, if, as trainers, we are negligent and do not take reasonable measures to prevent a foreseeable injury from occurring during our contract period, then we are liable. Secondly, we can be found liable if we violate any public safety laws or, thirdly, if we misrepresent our skills or knowledge to a client.
There are a few steps we can take to limit the risk of liability. To start with, we must ensure we have the correct insurance coverage with a reputable company that specializes in the fields of animal training, behavior and pet care. Also, we must always be careful when choosing our working locations and ensure they are safe from potential hazards. Finally, we must take into consideration the movement of the dogs we are going to see, i.e. how will they access and leave the area, is there appropriate fencing, doorways, access to and from parking areas, and areas where there may be other people? Professionals must take into consideration the risk factors presented by each individual dog’s behavior. Is the dog aggressive? Is there a bite or fight history? Is there any flight risk? What other concerns are there?
We must adhere to all county, state and federal laws at all times, as must all other persons concerned with the dog’s behavior. Each involved person must have signed a consulting contract that covers the liability statements, which should include a liability and limits liability, a liability waiver, and an indemnification policy.
We should only consult within the range of our competency and, if necessary, refer clients to another professional who can better serve their needs. At the end of each consulting contract we should confirm to clients – in writing – a summary of the training, the progress made during the session, and any training, management or safety recommendations we have made for the future welfare of the pet and his/her family. If we have any concerns regarding the pet, then we should document those too at this time.
We must also inform clients that, as pet guardians and owners, they are liable for damage caused by their dogs and open to liability risks if their dog’s behavior results in injury or damage to another person, pet or property. Always have clients check with their local authorities, as these liabilities differ from state to state and county to county. Make sure you are familiar with your own state laws and know where to direct clients for more information.
Some states operate with a strict statutory system where pet owners are responsible for all damages, irrespective of whether negligence is proven or not. In states that operate under the one-bite rule, dog owners are responsible for damages after the first bite. Owners need to be particularly cognizant of their liability if they are working with or managing a dog with aggression issues. We need to educate our clients on the importance of having strategies to manage and implement the necessary safety protocols at home, in the yard and whenever they leave home.
The formal contract is not the end of the professional-client contract story, however. Once we have established that our contract and liability waiver have been understood and signed, we must then consider the psychological contract. In short, this summarizes the beliefs held by both trainer and student regarding what they expect from one another. It is an unwritten set of expectations constantly at play during the term of the formal contract. The interactions we have with our clients are a fundamental feature of the trainer-student relationship. Each role is a set of behavioral expectations that are often explicit and not defined in the business contract (Armstrong, 2003).
Armstrong (2003) states that the psychological contract is blurred at the edges, cannot be enforced by either party and is most often not written down. Yet this contract guides expectations, defines roles and helps interpret the relationship between the two parties. It creates emotions that form and control participants’ behavior (see Figure 1-2). The essence of the psychological contract is a system of beliefs that needs to be articulated to the client.
In the absence of a mutual understanding of this contract, one side of the equation is most likely going to feel disappointed or let down at some point. This is one of the first things to take care of when beginning a trainer-student relationship. Let us start by setting the scene:
I am beginning to formulate in my mind which of the following options to implement when going forward:
The family are still operating at novice level. They do not know what they do not know. They are unconsciously incompetent. All is well and they are feeling good. The expert is on site and their problems are going to be fixed.
Now it is time for real discussions and contract agreements. I call this our “creating shared meaning” session. How this goes and how effective I am will determine the successful outcome of our team efforts, and is critical to the success of the training program. Not only does it remove any ambiguity surrounding the relationship and the future, but also creates a due north for how we move forwards together as a team.
This is an excerpt from Get Coaching Now, The How, What and Why of Effective Pet Industry Client Consultations - Featuring On Task Skill Coaching ™
The study of motivation is concerned with why dogs do what they do.
Motivation can be described as the direction and persistence of action.
Common characteristics of motivation are that motivation is typified as an individual phenomenon, motivation is described usually as intentional and motivation is multifaceted. The purpose of motivational theories is to predict behavior.
The underlying concept of motivation is the driving force within the dog in which they attempt to achieve a goal.
Performance can be described as the result of the dog’s ability and its motivation, if a dog has ability and no motivation then it will not exhibit a behavior, alternatively if the dog is motivated and lacking the skill then this also restricts the performance of a behavior.
The dogs level of motivation is also affected by it emotional state given the context it finds itself in. The dogs emotional state, its feelings will facilitate or inhibit motivation. The key canine need and thus the drive that motivates the dog is the need to survive, not just as an individual but as a species.
If a dogs motivation drive is blocked before reaching a desired goal there are two possible sets of outcomes. One outcome is the constructive approach. This approach would result in a dog problem solving. The dog will attempt other avenues or behaviors to achieve the desired goal. The second outcome is frustration behavior. Frustration behavior will result in aggression, regression, fixation or withdrawal.
Dogs that have had a positive learning and reinforcement history are more likely to attempt a constructive behavior approach when their motivational drive is blocked rather than reverting to aggression, regression or withdrawal.
Factors Impacting Frustration
There are several factors that influence the level of frustration a dog may experience when you are training them. The level of frustration they experience is dependent on the level of need the dog has to perform the skill, the degree of attachment the dog has to the goal and the strength of the dog’s motivation. If a dogs motivation is blocked the level of frustration exhibited will also be dependent on the perceived nature of the blocking component and the personality of the dog.
It is important as dog trainers that we effectively structure our training sessions to prevent high levels of frustration developing, we need to supply ample amounts of reinforcement, communicate effectively with the dog, encourage their participation and understand their individual perception of the learning environment.
Are We Facilitating Learning or Frustration?
A professional dog trainer will moderate the task difficulty and take personal responsibility to ensure that behaviors are tested before moving to new more difficult behavior criteria. A professional dog trainer will also give clean and unambiguous feedback to the dog they are training and the trainer will use innovation in their training approach to ensure the dog is continually challenged at an appropriate level given their skill and motivation levels.
The underlying concept of motivation is some driving force within the dog by which they attempt to achieve some goals in order to fulfill some need or expectation. To become effective and efficient dog trainers we need to recognize the importance of using appropriate rewards during the learning stage of each behavior, we need to give clean direction and use effective, fair and humane training procedures.
As dog trainers we need to use clear, concise communication systems with consistency in our verbal cues, physical prompts and lures so that we minimize undesirable outcomes. We need to train dogs in an environment that facilitates them moving into a constructive approach and not a frustration approach when their motivation drive is blocked. When dogs move into a problem solving scenario we have the opportunity as dog trainers to capture, shape and develop some very neat behaviors.
Niki Tudge ©
By Niki Tudge
One of the many courses we offer through DogNostics is our BusinesSMARTS™ program. BusinesSMARTS™ is intended to help small business owners coordinate important business principles into their work efforts so they see a growth in business and can reach more clients.
It takes hard work to accomplish anything in life and the same can be said for becoming competent at managing a business. You cannot learn to drive a car, dance or earn a professional certification without dedication and lots of work. DogNostics doesn’t guarantee results from this program but we do guarantee great content, individual direction and proven strategies that can move a business forward if they are implemented correctly. The implementation is why we cannot guarantee results, that is entirely dependent on the business owner and how committed they are to hard work and follow-through. Each of the activities we teach, and coach are supported through our accountability coaching calls at important milestones.
The BusinesSMARTS™ program is divided into 6 components. Each as important as the other. Yet part six for me, Public Relations, is the one that I enjoy teaching most. I think it’s because it is the most under-used and understated tool we have access to in our marketing mix. Too many small business owners avoid the public relations function and the use of tools like advertorials and news releases. They are more often than not viewed as only appropriate or pertinent to large companies and organizations. Nothing could be further from the truth!
There are lots of definitions of public relations. In 2012, the Public Relations Society of America, after much research, settled on their definition. It is my favorite as it is very simple. “Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”
The Six Components of BusinsSMARTS™
One of the areas of discussion we cover in the last module, The Power of Public Relations, is the difference between and the individual value of News Releases, Editorials and Advertorials. In the module we discuss how small business owners can use these tools to help them with their communication strategy and to support their other marketing activities.
So, let’s have a look at some of these tools and how you can use them in your business!
Publicity, or "free" marketing, is the most economical, and often the most effective way to promote your business. Consequently, it should be used whenever possible. News Releases are news stories that are written by the business and distributed to communicate their news to their market place. For example, when businesses launch new products, announce company mergers or the appointment of key personnel they will distribute a News Release. News Releases are very objective, they are factual and to the point. They should cover the What, Who, When, Where and Why of the news being released.
Opportunities you have to use this tool are:
Yes, News Releases are a promotional tool, but they still need to be a credible news piece.
When an audience reads a News Release they believe it is news and do not consider it a promotion or a self-serving document for the company publishing it. There is never a guarantee that a News Release will be picked up for publication but if they are well written, newsworthy and are submitted correctly to your local media there is a good chance they will be picked up and published by a news outlet.
Editorials are articles written by editors of publications. They are not written by the business, or a third-party agency of freelance writer. An Editorial will express the opinions of the editor or the publishing platform, so they represent the views of the publication itself and not any other party. Because Editorials are considered opinion pieces they are not always objective and can use language that is emotive
If the Editorial is written by an outsider, it will carry a disclaimer, so the audience knows that the piece does not reflects the publisher's official views. Be very careful if you are approached by a publication who wants to do an Editorial, you will probably not have any control over the finished product and you can easily be taken out of context or be misquoted.
Advertorials are advertisements that are paid for. They are made to look like editorials or feature articles when in fact they are adverts in disguise as editorial content. Like editorials, advertorials express opinions, but they are written by the businesses or an agent of the business such as an advertising company or freelance copywriters. Businesses use advertorials to promote new products and services.
Because audiences tend to skim over, or disregard traditional advertisements advertorials can be very effective in helping you make sales. The advertorial piece can very subtly influence the audience and communicate the benefits to purchasing your product or service. By transforming the promotional advertisement into a story you can be more persuasive and reap a much higher return on your investment for placing an advertorial over a traditional advertisement.
So, as you can see there is a great value to using some the tools that fall under the role of Public Relations. I highly recommend that at a minimum you learn how to professionally construct a New Release and/or an Advertorial. These skills will be of great value to you as a key part of your marketing activities. Checkout our BusinesSMARTS Program here
The Public Relations Society of America. The Definition of Public Relations. Sourced July 23, 2018 https://www.prsa.org/all-about-pr/
Positive interrupters or 'alert sounds' such as a kissy noise can be used to attract a dog's attention or to interrupt an unwanted behavior. The dog can then be asked to carry out a more desirable behavior and appropriately marked and reinforced for doing so.
In my presentation, Using Positive Interrupters to Help Increase Desirable Behaviours, at the PPG Behavior and Training Workshop, in Kanab, Utah, April 2018, I also talked about the importance of making possible future ‘negatives’ positive. If you are in any doubt as to the future of the individual and the way in which he/she might be spoken to, which could be the case with many dogs in a rescue or shelter centre, then I advise respondently conditioning words such as 'Oi!', 'Hey!', 'Ey!', 'No!', 'Tsch!', 'Ah ah!' and even phrases such as 'Naughty girl' and 'Naughty boy'.
Respondent conditioning takes place when an unconditioned stimulus that elicits an unconditioned response is repeatedly paired with a neutral stimulus. As a result of conditioning, the neutral stimulus becomes a conditioned stimulus that reliably elicits a conditioned response. Each single pairing is considered a trial. With respondent conditioning the presentation of the two stimuli, neutral and unconditioned, are presented regardless of the behavior the individual is exhibiting. The behavior elicited is a reflex response (Change 2008 p 64).
By repeatedly pairing the words 'Oi', 'No' etc with something the dog loves, for example a piece of yummy food, these words will come to elicit a positive conditioned emotional response rather than a negative one. During the conditioning process, the chosen word should initially be spoken at low volume with a happy tone of voice and a smile on the trainer's face. The tone of voice is incrementally lowered in such a way that it continues to elicit a positive CER. The tone of voice is then highered again (returning to a happy 'sing-song' pitch) and the volume is systematically increased. The lowered tone and increased volume can then be combined, initially with a smile and very soft look on the trainer's face and subsequentially with a more neutral look and finally, a harder mouth and 'sterner' features. The trainer should have a good knowledge of canine communication, ensuring that the individual remains happy, calm and relaxed throughout the process. Remember, we are endeavouring to condition a positive emotional response so it is paramount that no fear, anxiety or stress are elicited.
In an ideal world, I would like to think that no dog ever had to hear these words and that instead, if carrying out a problematic behavior (as perceived by the human) the dog would simply be asked to carry out a more desirable one, for which he/she would then be reinforced, but unfortunately, we do not presently live in this 'ideal' world. By putting respondent conditioning to good use, as described above, if, at any time in the dog's future, someone does use the words you have conditioned, he/she will be much more likely to respond by happily focusing on said person. At the very least, we should have ensured a neutral response.
We can also put operant conditioning to good use and give these words meaning, for example 'Hey' could be taught to mean 'focus on human'; 'Tsch' could be taught to mean 'come towards human'; 'No' might be taught to mean 'sit'... The words could all become evocative stimuli for specific chosen behaviors.
If you would like to learn more about positive interrupters and how to condition them, you can do so by registering for 32.5 Hours of Audio Recordings from the Pet Professional Guild 2018 Workshop held at Best Friends or by signing up for the individual presentation, 'How to Use Positive Interrupters to Increase Desirable Behaviors, which will soon be available through DogNostics.
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There are always rumblings on social media about different dog training methods and their names and acronyms. Everyone seems to have comments and opinions on why one method is better than another. In some cases, in fact long Facebook threads, arguments breakout that become extremely aggressive and rude. Comments like
I am often asked what do I think? Do I approve of this method or that method? Well I never get pulled into these types of conversations or share my opinions and thoughts on one method versus another for a couple of simple reasons.
So, I just don’t do it, I don’t think we can make these kinds of general statements about a hypothetical dog training method because of reason x, y or z!
I remember one discussion about a method that had two different people passionately promoting it. Both individuals provided links to videos they had of their training in action. When I watched the videos of their actual training session and I functionally analyzed what was happening they were both very different. One was a -R protocol and one a +R protocol, yet both were promoting the training method as examples of great positive reinforcement training protocols.
So, to summarize.
Rather than make general sweeping statements about one of the many training protocols methods or philosophies, is it not more accurate to observe a training session and functionally analyze what is happening.
And for me, the most important factor in determining if the training protocol should be used is “Is the animal enjoying it?”
Then you can quietly decide if it’s a protocol you would choose to use in you practice.
The Respondent Conditioning Process
The graphic below shows how a neutral stimulus, through conditioning, becomes a conditioned stimulus that elicits a conditioned response. In this situation we are going to look at a neutral stimulus which is a bell. Through the pairing of the bell with chocolate, which is an unconditioned stimulus the bell can then become conditioned to elicit salivation.
NS = Neutral Stimulus – Does not elicit a response, is neutral.
UCS = Unconditioned Stimulus – is naturally relevant and elicits a response
UCR = Unconditioned Response – happens automatically
CS = Conditioned Stimulus – through the conditioning process has now developed an eliciting value
Now here is the important part. Respondent conditioning takes place when an unconditioned stimulus that elicits an unconditioned response is repeatedly paired with a neutral stimulus. As a result of conditioning, the neutral stimulus becomes a conditioned stimulus that reliably elicits a conditioned response. Each single pairing is considered a trial. In respondent conditioning, the presentation of the two stimuli (neutral and unconditioned) occurs regardless of the behavior the individual is exhibiting. The behavior elicited is a reflex response (Chance, 2008, p.64).
Another aspect of respondent conditioning is called high order conditioning. High order conditioning takes place when a well-established conditioned stimulus is paired with a neutral stimulus to elicit a conditioned response. It takes place in the absence of an unconditioned stimulus, and many more stimuli can come to elicit conditional responses, not just those paired with an unconditioned stimulus. This enhances our adaptation and survival ability. But high order conditioning also affects and influences many emotional reactions, such as fear. We should thus be aware of it in the workplace. (Chance, 2008).
The wonderful thing about respondent conditioning is that when we grasp the scientific principles behind it, we can then use it in the workplace and our training lessons to modify a trainee’s behavior. The graphic below shows how conditioning can be used to create a pleasant or enjoyable response to a stimulus. This conditioning process is called counter-conditioning.
Let’s now look at an example of operant conditioning and respondent conditioning in the work place and how they can work together. Figure 4 shows them side by side in terms of timeline and how the stimulus affect behavior.
An Example of Operant Conditioning
Let’s say a competent and highly-trained dog walking employee performs to an excellent standard and clients provide gratuities accordingly. Each time a specific client service is reinforced with a gratuity, the employee’s likelihood of repeating that same standard of client service will be strengthened. In other words, the behavior has been strengthened by its consequences. The behavior has been positively reinforced.
An Example of Respondent Conditioning
Now let’s look at how respondent condition can affect the workplace. Let’s say that a supervisor’s appearance in your business has been paired continually with overly critical feedback to one of your employees. This will more than likely condition a problematic emotional response because, whenever the supervisor appears, it elicits a feeling of anxiety – or similar – in your staff. The supervisor and the staff may both be extremely proficient in their skill delivery but their attitudes are going to negatively impact your business. The supervisor is having a problematic effect on the employees’ attitude which will be reflected in their customer service.
Learn more about training and developing employees through the application of learning theory in my book Training Big for Small Businesses
Walking nicely is a life skill that when missing can negatively impact the human-canine relationship resulting in fewer walks, less exercise and a decrease in social exposure.
Whether legislation dictates that a pet dog guardian cannot leave home without leashing the dog or a guardian has the freedom of access to lots of off-leash areas, walking a dog on leash can offer lots of benefits. Leashes provide information and they offer guidance. The leash provides boundaries and helps the dog understand how far he can wander, thus keeping everyone safe. The leash adds an extra layer of insurance preventing such behaviors as dashing out of the door into the street; pulling away to get to another dog or person; chasing bicycles, cats, squirrels...
Good leash skills not only help the dog to pay attention to the leash, focus on the handler and seek out reinforcement, they also lead to an increase in walks and the pleasure derived from those walks. The relationship between the dog and handler is strengthened and the skills learned have a positive effect on other aspects of the dog’s training and family life!
Condition it well!
Previous learning history could mean that the dog (or other species) associates the leash with pulling to move forwards, with confusion or even with punishment. The leash may have become a poisoned cue. Whether just starting out with a puppy’s leash skills or working on an older dog’s ‘problematical’ leash behaviors/a poisoned cue, respondent conditioning should be employed to engender a positive emotional response to all aspects of walking on leash and to teach the learner to associate the leash with a feeling of joy. Here is a short list of some of the stimuli we recommend you condition:
Micro-slicing Leash Walking
When teaching good leash skills, handlers should put the foundations in place so that they are in a good place to start working towards the goal behavior. We never usually start with the goal so why would leash walking be any different? Endeavour to use constructional learning and a step-by-step approach to learning how to Walk This Way.
The Leash is Full of Cues
Here are a few examples of some of the cues that come from the leash and what they mean:
The leash is a positive cue that leads to positive reinforcement!
Teach and Test
Set up puzzle moments to test understanding of the skills you have taught. For example: Gently stroke the leash causing a slight vibration. Can the learner solve the puzzle and work out what to do to gain reinforcement? The learner moves towards the handler, click and reinforce! The learner strains on the leash? Reduce the criteria, there is more teaching to do – the learner was unable to solve the puzzle.
Add the Walk This Way Instructor Program to Your Business Services
Teaching a client to teach their dog to walk nicely is one of the skills that is so often not fully mastered in a group class curriculum when trained alongside the other important pet dog skills such as come, stay, off, take, sit, down etc. DogNostics developed the Walk This Way workshop options to support you, supporting and educating clients and pet dogs in your community.
The Walk This Way program is a complete professional trainer's workshop, available in three package options. Each package option is fully flexible and can be used as a workshop, for private appointments or to support a group class curriculum.
If you would like to learn more about the Walk This Way Program, please go to www.dognosticscareercenter.com for more information.
Attend a 2-Day Walk This Way Workshop & Qualify as a Walk This Way Instructor
Register for the "Walk This Way" 2-Day Instructor Certification Workshop with Louise Stapleton-Frappell and Niki Tudge
During this two day workshop, we will cover the skills and knowledge that you need to successfully run ‘Walk This Way’ group or private classes and workshops, thus increasing your service offerings and business revenue! We will guide you through the Walk This Way curriculum, sharing the tools that you need to effectively and positively teach your clients the skills required to make walking their dogs the pleasure it should be. We will not however, just share the requisite skills for teaching dogs to walk nicely on leash, we will also show you how to transfer the knowledge and skills that you learn to a group class setting, as well as sharing the core concepts of On Task Skill Coaching for pet professionals with you!
The knowledge you gain in this workshop can be applied across all your service offerings from group to private classes and will help you to differentiate your business from your competition. You will leave the workshop ready to launch new service offerings thus increasing your business revenue by fulfilling a demand for the one thing all dog guardians want – dogs who happily walk nicely when on leash.
The workshop will culminate in the opportunity for you to gain your professional ‘Walk This Way’ Instructor Certificate! More information and online registration can be found here: https://www.dognosticscareercenter.com/event-2827090
The words we choose to use in our training and behavior change sessions and written client plans impact the way we are perceived.
Our words Impact our credibility and thus our ability to work alongside our peers and our industry partners, particularly those who hold more senior credentials such as Board-Certified Behaviorists and Veterinarians.
In any profession whether you are a presidential speech writer, a career orator or an individual service provider working with clients transferring skills and knowledge, words really do matter. The nomenclature we choose to use matters and impacts how we are perceived. This perception can impact our effectiveness as educators, our individual credibility and the trust that resonates and reflects on us all as professional animal trainers and behavior consultants.
We should always consider how we choose to communicate with our clients, across our different peer groups and with professionals in our industry, particularly professionals with a recognized higher-level of knowledge or skills. The latter are the very professionals that we may need to refer clients too or be helped or mentored by.
There are several terms in our industry that can be, quite rightly, ‘hot buttons’, as they are terms that are reserved for medically qualified individuals because they have specific clinical definitions. Examples of these hot button words are prognosis, diagnosis & treatment.
A simple definition of ‘prognosis’ is the likely course of a disease or ailment. To ‘diagnose’ is the identification of the nature of an illness or other problem by examination of the symptoms and ‘treatment’ is the medical care given to a patient for an illness or injury.
We as dog trainers and behavior consultants also have a specific language that is appropriate for us to use, the language of applied behavior analysis. We can speak to antecedents, consequences, behavior and its topography, the different observable dimensions such as frequency, intensity and duration and of course not forgetting latency!
We can analyze and pull apart components of the antecedent package such as motivating operations, setting events and eliciting or evolving stimulus. We can focus in on the postcedent package using functional assessments to pinpoint the all-important consequences. If necessary, we can develop single subject experiments whereby we functionally analyze stimuli and the effects they have on the target behavior, so we can build effective and efficient counter conditioning and desensitization plans.
We really don’t need to, nor should we, infringe on the terminology used by the medical community. Let’s be transparent folks and use the correct words to help us gain credibility and ensure accurate meaning for ourselves and our profession.
Checkout the DogNostics ABA Dictionary
We all know that many of us set New Year’s Resolutions and as the year progresses they begin to fade. This leaves us feeling frustrated, first we have not accomplished what we set out to do and then we feel like a 'loser' as we have failed our own expectations.
I don't know about your but in our home, I always put other things as a priority before myself, 'they say as women we tend to do this". Anyway, this year I thought it would be fun to develop some New Year’s Resolutions for my pets as I never let them down. So, I now know if all else fails with my other resolutions I will at least have accomplished some.
Here are my top 6 New Year’s Resolutions for you to accomplish with your Dog. They are not in order of priority, just the way they came out when I began to think about it.
6. Get A PAL Tag Research has shown that most pets that are lost and returned home safely are wearing a collar or tag with their owner's contact details. Here at the DogSmith® our number one priority is to keep your beloved pet safe and secure. This includes helping you find your pet in the event they are lost. DogSmith Pet Care & Training clients are eligible for a complimentary identification tag and free registration on our DogSmith PAL® database. The identification tag is imprinted with a unique serial number. Over the years many pets have been safely returned to their owners through this program. If you are not a DogSmith client, then please be sure that your pet has the sufficient ID so it can be returned home to you in the even it gets lost.
Anger is a natural emotion that usually stems from perceived threat or loss. It’s a pervasive emotion and it affects our body, thoughts, feelings, and behavior. Anger is often described in terms of its intensity, frequency, duration, threshold, and expression.
Anger typically follows a predictable pattern: a cycle. Understanding the cycle of anger can help us understand our own anger reactions, and those of others. It can also help us in considering the most appropriate response. When you work in a customer service field and one so emotionally charged as the pet industry, having an understanding of anger and its cycle and help you manage client interactions and dialogue.
Illustrated below are the five phases of the anger cycle: trigger, escalation, crisis, recovery, and depression.
The trigger phase happens when we perceive a threat or loss, and our body prepares to respond. In this phase there is a subtle change from an individual’s normal/ adaptive state into their stressed state. Anger triggers are different from person to person. The triggers can come from both the environment and from internal thought processes.
In the escalation phase there is the progressive appearance of the anger response. In this phase our body prepares for a crisis after perceiving the trigger. This preparation is mostly physical and is manifested through symptoms like rapid breathing, increased heart rate, and raised blood pressure. Once the escalation phase is reached there is less chance of calming down as this is the phase where the body prepares for fight or flight.
As mentioned above the escalation phase is progressive and it is in the crisis phase that the anger reaction reaches its peak. In the crisis phase our body is on full alert and fully prepared to take action in response to the trigger. During this phase logic and rationality are limited, if not impaired because the anger instinct takes over. In extreme cases the crisis phase means that a person may be a serious danger to themselves or other people.
The recovery phase happens when the anger has been spent or at least controlled and there is now a steady return to a person’s normal/ adaptive state. In this stage individual reasoning and awareness return. If the right intervention is applied the return to normalcy progresses smoothly. If an inappropriate intervention takes place then this can re-ignite the anger and serve as a new trigger.
The depression phase marks a return to a person’s normal/ adaptive ways. Physically this stage marks below normal vital signs, such as heart rate so that the body can recover equilibrium. A person’s full use of their faculties return at this point and the new awareness helps the person assess what just occurred. Consequently this is the stage marked by embarrassment, guilt, regret, and or depression. After the depression phase a new trigger can start the entire cycle all over again.
How long each phase lasts varies from person to person. Some people also skip certain phases or they go through them privately. Do you recognize any of these phases in your own anger? Do you have good coping mechanisms and anger management strategies?
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DogNostics is the sister company to and provides the key education for DogSmith Licensed professionals.