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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Classical Conditioning. Part IV. Order, Intensity, Value

If pet parents have been working on a program of desensitization and
counter conditioning and their pet doesn't seem to be getting any better,
it might be time to review order, intensity, value

The scary thing has to happen first, then the food (or other reward).
Nail trim example
If you show the dog the peanut butter or smear peanut butter on the fridge
and have your dog lick as you trim, the reward (peanut butter) is coming
before the scary thing (nail trim). The dog might learn to hate peanut
butter because peanut butter predicts nail trims.

Instead we need to clip a nail, then give a treat.

Even if we get the order perfect, if the scary thing is much too scary, we
might not get anywhere.
Nail trim example
For some dogs, we might be able to clip a nail, then give a treat.
But for many dogs (especially the shy ones), we might have to break down
nail trimming into tiny pieces.
First we reward reaching towards the dog, then we reward a quick touch on
the dog's arm, then a quick touch on the paw. Then we reward the dog for
looking at the clippers. Then we reward the dog for allowing us to touch
his body with the clippers. Then we reward the dog for allowing us to touch
his foot with the clippers and so on.
See Suzanne Clothier's video
<>on "Safety", starting at
2:29 <>

Some dogs will be happy with a piece of kibble as a reward. But for many
dogs, the reward needs to be really great. And the counter conditioning
will work much better if the reward is something that the dog doesn't get
all the time.

For more on desensitization and counter conditioning. See Kathy Sdao's
"Does The Name Pavlov Ring a Bell"
Can be purchased at
Dogwise <> or Karen Pryor
Clicker Training <> and
or other places.

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