The zones of sensitisation

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Blog post by zoologist and dog behaviourist Laure-Anne Viselé, 24 November 2020

The zones of sensitisation are one of the most important concepts you will ever come across about dog behaviour. It tackles so many essentials: 

  1. Why your dog’s unwanted behaviour often gets worse if you don’t do anything about it. 
  2. Why management (a.k.a. PROACTIVELY keeping your dog out of trouble) is as – if not more – important than training.
  3. Why distracting your dog from the problem situation (white zone) is only a plaster on a broken leg: e.g. asking your dog to look at you when passing another dog, giving your dog a Kong when you are leaving them home alone. 
  4. Why your attempts at training can fail and can even make the dog worse rather than better: because most people do not train in the green zone
  5. Why dogs don’t always ‘get used to it’ with each exposure to something that triggers them, on the contrary.  

And so many more insights into your dog’s behaviour. 

Do yourself and your dog a favour, and learn to recognize the signs of the different zones, then keep your dog in the white zone 99% of the time, except when you are training, then make sure he is in the green zone.

He can take a bit of yellow zone exposure, but not too much, if you want him to react less intensely. Whatever you do: keep him away from the red zone! That is where the habit / negative emotional association gets entrenched deeper and deeper. 
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