Its The Dog

Learning through dogs

Counter conditioning and desensitization

So what other methods are there to work with biting dogs? A little thing called counter conditioning and desensitization of course. But what are they?

Counter conditioning

CC as it’s often called is a tweaked version of Pavlov’s classical conditioning. Pavlov used a neutral stimuli to trigger a response. In the case of counter conditioning you’re taking a negative stimuli and giving it a positive meaning. remember last week when I mentioned habituated responses? this is what I was talking about.
The point of this method is not to go over threshold so you never put the dog in a position where it feels the need to defend itself. This is why it takes so long. 


Desensitization is not the same thing as socializing. It’s the process of getting the dog comfortable in the presence of a trigger without going over threshold.

What do these two methods used together look like? well like this.

Notice the dog is fairly comfortable throughout the session, her head and tail are high, she’s focused on her handler and the leash is loose. There’s no physical contact with the dog other than during the transfer of treats.
Heres a dog who’s afraid of the world beyond the comfort of the house.

This video touches on what I will talk about tomorrow, flooding and displacement behaviors. displacement behaviors are similar to calming signals, however they mean something different. Calming signals are used to diffuse stressful interactions, displacement behaviors are used when the dog is experiencing two conflicting drives. An example would be a dog is afraid to move forward but want to stay with his person. More to come tomorrow.


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