When teaching handlers about their service dogs, we often refer to the dog's "arousal level." When we use this term, we are using it in a very specific way: we are talking about how excited the dog is, no matter if the dog is happy or frightened. Some ways to tell if a dog is aroused is to look at their ears, tail, body posture, and eyes. While a dog's body is constantly moving and changing, looking at these indicators can help people figure out at what arousal level their dog is at currently. The lower the arousal level, the easier the dog is to train, and if the dog's level is too high (sometimes called "over threshold"), then they can't learn anything. The handler or trainer must wait until the dog is calmer (or bring the dog to a place where they will calm down). The following handout can be used to put a number on the arousal level, which facilitates communication.
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