Something that often goes well with classical counter conditioning is desensitization. We present the stimulus at a level that doesn't scare the dog.
We know that our dog gets upset when the delivery truck is near our home. If we hand our dog treats as the truck is right in front of our home, the truck might be too close for our dog to feel comfortable.
If we use desensitization, we might start treating our dog when the delivery truck is one block away - close enough for our dog to notice, but far away enough so that our dog doesn't get upset.
If we don't add desensitization to our classical conditioning program we might stress our dogs needlessly. Some dogs might be so stressed that classical conditioning might not work. For some dogs, we might even make the situation worse because we might be flooding.
Murphy doesn't like it when I close the curtains. So I don't start with closing the curtains all the way. I start with just barely touching the curtains
See the video below
Murphy also doesn't like medium to large brown cardboard boxes. You will see in the video below that I start with a small white cardboard box.
Puddin doesn't like it when the neighbors slam their garbage can lid. So I start the process by closing the lid lightly. See the video below. I don't close the lid harder until I see that she is happy about a light closing.
More to come on counter conditioning and desensitization.
Have you helped your dog with classical conditioning? Tell us about it in the comments section below
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