What is “Over Threshold”?

Jackie Gibbons ● June 24, 2022

You may have heard this word “over threshold” but do you know what it means? The definition of threshold is the point that once exceeded a certain behavior will occur. For our dogs this means what situation or actions that makes them have behavior issues. The tricky thing is not every dog has the same threshold. Some dogs are extremely tolerant while others have a “short fuse”. No matter how much or little a dog can handle, we as owners should not put our dogs over threshold.

The first step is determining the triggers that push the dog over threshold. For some it is very clear, another dog approaches and your dog starts barking and lunging. For others it may seem random or out of nowhere for owners. For these dogs, it’s best to look at all environmental factors and think about what could be different in the situations where the dog reacts. One thing to consider is trigger stacking, which means the more triggers there are the more likely the dog will feel overwhelmed and act accordingly. Meaning a dog seeing another dog may not push him over threshold but add in a motorcycle and the dog is then pushed over threshold by the combination of the two.

Once the trigger or triggers are found, first create as much distance or as little contact with the trigger. The key here is management. Making sure the dog is not put over threshold. Next comes the training and depending on the dog and the triggers that will be different. The main theme in the training will be keeping the dog calm and systematically reintroducing the triggers. It is best to consult professionals for behavior modification. Just like people there is no one answer.