Canine Trigger Spreadsheet
Note: DIRECTIONS: PLEASE READ FIRST BEFORE FILLING OUT THIS FORM
To make this trigger matrix the best, it can be a few directions can be helpful. I will briefly discuss what we want you to put in all the different columns. Additionally, the more specific and detailed you can be, the better. We can't speak to your dog. You are our eyes and ears to your dog. We depend on your report and the details you give to understand what is going on with your dog and how we would treat the behavior problems. Also, please upload videos, photos, and documents that would be helpful for me to see. There is a feature at the bottom of the form to be able to upload files for me.
Example Behavior Complaint:
A man walks his small white dog down the road past our house. When they pass by my living room front window, my dog runs and jumps up on the couch that is right in front of the window to look outside to see the man and dog pass by. When that happens, my dog runs to the window, barks, growls, and shows its teeth; the hair stands up on the back, the tail is straight up and stiff, pupils dilated, panting, and excessive salivation are present. After the man and dog go far enough down the road, my dog can not see them anymore, which is about a minute and thirty seconds. My dog no longer displays any of those behaviors. The behaviors begin to lessen as soon as the man and dog get past the window about five feet, almost immediately. My dog is a little more on edge or nervous for the rest of the day. The next morning she is back to herself. The funny thing is sometimes a person with a dog can walk past the house, and my dog is ok. It doesn't make any sense.
Column #1 LOCATION:
In the location column, be very specific when describing the location where the undesirable behavior occurred. For example, do not just list "Living Room" as the location. Be more specific. The location was on the couch against the living room front window.
Column #2 TRIGGER:
The trigger is the man and dog walking by the front window.
Column #3 BEHAVIOR:
Behavior is what is observed as observable outward actions taken by the dog. In the above brief behavior complaint, the behavior was: running and jumping up on the couch that is right in front of the window to look outside. My dog 1.) runs to the window, 2. barks, 3. growls, and 4.) shows its teeth; 5. the hair stands up on the back, 6. the tail is straight up and 7. stiff, 8. pupils dilated, 9.) panting, and 10.) excessive salivation. There are ten separate behaviors that occurred in this one incident that should be listed.
Column #4 FREQUENCY:
Frequency is scoring how often your dog will display those behaviors, with that exact trigger, in the exact location if it is presented ten days in a row. One out of ten times. Six out of ten times? If my dog does it every time, the score is ten.
Column #5 INTENSITY:
Intensity is a subjective score that measures the intensity or severity of the behaviors displayed. The most intense and severe would be ten, and the least intense or severe would be one.
Column #6 DURATION:
Duration is the time the dog actively displays those behaviors from start to finish. In the case above that we have been discussing, the duration is the time from when the dog first notices the trigger and begins to show a behavior until the trigger passes the front window about five feet. That time duration is 30 seconds.
Column #7 REINFORCER/CONSEQUENCE:
The reinforcer or consequence is what happens right after the behavior. In this case, it is the man and dog going away. We actually refer to this as negative reinforcement. The man and dog were scary to my dog. When my dog engaged in the above behaviors, then the man and dog left and went away. Removing the man and dog removes the yukky feeling the dog has. This behavior in the dog's mind is functional. It causes the scary thing to go away. Thus the behavior is reinforced.
Column #8 RECOVERY TIME (BACK TO NORMAL):
Recovery time is the duration it takes for the dog to return to baseline normal after a trigger and behavior episode. Recovery time can be the same as the duration in Column #6. However, it can be a longer duration of time. In the above behavior complaint, my dog is not herself again until the next morning. The recovery time is the rest of the day until the next morning.