The snowball effect
Snowballs start as tiny little things. Keep rolling them around and packing more snow on them, and pretty soon you’ve got a monstrous, hard, tough snowball. Something that instead of bouncing off a window, if thrown, would go right though it.
That’s how your dog’s little behaviors transform from little moments of insecurity, uncertainty, reactivity, anxiety, or stress, and turn into deeply patterned, window breaking sized issues.
A couple of unaddressed barks on the walk slowly turn into massive reactivity. A nervous growl at a guest left untended to turns into fear aggression. Whining or barking from the crate, allowed to go on, turns into separation anxiety.
Whatever it is, chances are it started out small and less frequent and less powerful. Like all habits and emotional patterns, the slowness of their development is what allows them to creep up on us.
The trick is to address, block, stop, correct, prevent the pattern (or snowball) from growing. If we’ll go after the very first emanation of the problem, and head it off at the pass as soon as we see it, we’ll keep it from becoming this large and dangerous thing.
Even the biggest, nastiest doggy snowballs are created one, unaddressed negative behavior at a time. Your job is to stop them before they ever get going.