Counter Conditioning: This is basically using classical conditioning to change your dog’s feelings or response to something it fears. You are creating positive associations and the dog begins to feel happy or excited, or calm about things that previously caused it to feel fear. It takes time and repetition.
Desensitizing: By repeatedly exposing your dog to a trigger, at an intensity which the dog does not find scary, and having nothing bad occur, your dog ultimately becomes used to it. If the dog is afraid of a running vacuum cleaner you start slow and first desensitize your dog to the vacuum being in the room turned off, then you might move it around the room without turning it on. It will take many exposures for the dog to become desensitized to something. Combine counter conditioning and desensitizing.”
If you are on a walk and a dog is approaching you need to put lots of space between you the dog. Cross to the other side of the street or pull off to the side where he will not react and feed him treats in between him looking at the other dog. This is the desensitizing and counter conditioning.You will be training him to look to you for high value treats whenever he sees another dog (the first video explains this very well).
These two videos do a nice job or showing some counter conditioning and desensitization techniques that we will be using in the next weeks. I look forward to working with you both. Please do not hesitate to email us if you have any questions before your next class.
Read more about these techniques, Debbie’s book “Living with a Fearful Dog” and access to videos at http://fearfuldogs.com/getting-started-with-a-fearful-dog/