Dog Anxiety Treatment Plan, the Rubik’s Cube Metaphor

The Rubik’s cube can be used as a model for a dog’s behavioral wellness. People can spin their wheels in behavioral training when they try to work through concerning behavior related to fear, anxiety or aggression as though it is a one dimensional problem. People struggle with the Rubik’s cube for the same reason. Every time we attempt to modify one side of the cube, those changes will have a direct effect on the remaining sides. The puzzle is solvable only when we attempt to work from the ground up.

Layer 1: Need to Feel Safe

In behavioral training, the BASE layer represents a dog’s need to feel safe within each environment in which they are placed, Also, to develop a trusting relationship with family members or caregivers. Creating conditions that promote a sense of security and trust should be viewed as a priority when creating a behavioral training plan. 

Implement Positive reinforcement methods to address signs of anxiety, stress or fear related to family members, the dog’s environment or aspects of the dog’s routine.

Layer 2: Learned Skills

This layer represents learned skills that help satisfy a dog’s mental and emotional need to develop good communication and problem solving skills. This includes teaching dogs to relax in social situations, training an enthusiastic recall or working through reactivity. These goals build upon the base layer and are only possible if the dog feels safe and trusts their handler and environment.

Layer 3: Need for Enrichment

The third layer represents your dog’s need for enrichment. Going on hikes, on trips to the beach or practicing scent or agility games to name a few. These activities will revolve around your dog’s individual strengths and abilities.

One Dimensional Problem Solving

Putting a correction collar on a dog to address reactivity to other dogs, or blasting a dog with a spray bottle to make them stop barking are examples of one dimensional problem solving. From a singular perspective this could be looked at as a “fix” until you realize that it may have a negative impact on other dimensions of your dog’s behavior. 

Positive or Negative Influence

Every modification will have a positive or negative wave of influence on other aspects of your dog’s behavior. Their confidence, social behavior and their ability to trust are a few examples. Behavioral training will have a positive or negative impact on their total wellness.

Choose training solutions that focus on creating a sense of safety and security by minimizing stress and promoting skills that help your dog improve communication and better regulate emotions.

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